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Welfare Reform on the Web (May 2010): Education - UK - schools

Badly behaved pupils can be forcibly restrained

N. Woolcock

The Times, Apr. 6th 2010, p. 11

Ed Balls., the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families has suggested that teachers should be allowed to use physical force to remove unruly pupils from classrooms and to intervene in playground fights. He said that head teachers and governing bodies should support teachers in using physical restraint when needed and that proper procedures should be implemented to protect teachers from accusations of assault.

(See also Daily Telegraph, Apr 6th 2010, p.10)

Community cohesion: the real challenges

T. Eaude

Race Equality Teaching, vol.28, Spring 2010, p. 31-36

Since September 2007, all schools in England have had a duty to promote community cohesion. Schools can best fulfil the duty by: 1) explicitly addressing and celebrating, not just accepting, both sameness and diversity; 2) promoting contact and shared endeavour across cultural divides; 3) providing opportunities for co-operation as well as competition; and 4) listening out for groups with the least voice and the least power.

Critical perspectives on cultural diversity in early childhood: building an inclusive curriculum and provision

L. Ang

Early Years, vol. 30, 2010, p. 41-52

This paper presents a discussion of the complexities that arise from addressing issues of cultural diversity in the early years context. It explores the challenges of developing effective early years provision and pedagogy that value cultural difference within the framework of a mandated curriculum, the Early Years Foundation Stage, in England. Children's cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds challenge the assumptions of normality and universality that are embedded in policy rhetoric and curricular guidelines for group provision.

Education mobility in England: the link between the education levels of parents and the educational outcomes of teenagers

J. Ermisch and E. Del Bono

Sutton Trust, 2010

This research compared the test scores of children born in 1989/90 with the results of equivalent examinations in other nations. In England, 56% of children with degree educated parents were in the top quarter of results at 14, compared with 9% of those whose parents left school with no qualifications, a gap of 47 percentage points. The equivalent gap was 23 points in Australia, 37 in Germany and 43 in the US. The analysis also included a comparison of GCSE and other test results in England with those of previous generations. In 2006, the odds of getting at least five good GCSEs were four times higher for children of degree educated parents than for other children, only slightly better than for previous generations. Findings suggest that the divisions are due to well-educated parents being more likely to get their children into the best secondary schools.

(For summary see Daily Telegraph, Apr. 26th 2010, p. 10)

Equality priorities and equality objectives: the Equality Act 2010, a cautious welcome

R. Richardson

Race Equality Teaching, vol.28, Spring 2010, p. 6-11

This article discusses the implementation of the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 in schools. For schools, the requirement will be that the setting of equality objectives must be integrally part and parcel of more general processes of self-evaluation and school improvement planning. The Act establishes eight characteristics guaranteed legal protection against discrimination: age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and reassignment, faith, religion and belief, marriage and civil partnership and sexual identity and orientation.

From policy to plate: barriers to implementing healthy eating policies in primary schools in Wales

S. Moore and others

Health Policy, vol.94, 2010, p. 239-245

The reduction of obesity and improvement of diet and nutrition are two of the principle objectives of health promotion programmes in the UK. Due to its association with health in adulthood, the programmes view childhood nutrition as a priority and nutrition in schools as critical. This study examined how food availability during primary school meals was influenced by policies at local education authority (LEA) and school level, and by the practices of school catering staff. Policies at each level complied with those higher in the organisational hierarchy, i.e. national policy directly influenced LEA policy, which, in turn, directly influenced school policy. This ensured that the stipulations of national policy were considered during everyday working practices, but did not ensure that they were dominant or sole considerations. This was due, in part, to each organisational level considering and incorporating additional policy items commensurate with their specific terms of reference. For example, LEA policies reflected commercial considerations such as protecting school meal uptake and school policies reflected parental wishes. Finally, the food made available at a particular lunchtime in a particular school was at the discretion of the cooks, who decided on the meaning of ambiguous items such as 'seasonal vegetables', the substitution of popular items for unpopular ones, portion sizes, and serving strategies.

Get tough with bad parents, schools told

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 1st 2010, p. 14

Guidance from the Department for Schools, Children and Families urges schools to take parents to court for failing to control their children. Head teachers should make more use of parenting orders to force mothers and fathers to take more responsibility for their children. These civil court orders require parents to attend counselling sessions and parenting classes. Breach of the order can lead to prosecution and a 1,000 fine.

Heads are urged to boycott tests for 11-year-olds in assault on league tables

G. Hurst

The Times, Apr. 22nd 2010, p.16

Two major teaching unions, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT), have announced that they will press ahead with their boycott of this year's assessment tests for 11-year-olds. They argue that the tests place undue pressure on school-children and do not provide a fair assessment of teaching and children's capacity within schools in disadvantaged areas. It is estimated that around 7,000 head teachers - representing around one third of England's primary schools - will participate in the boycott. This number would be enough to undermine next year's primary school league tables.

Head teachers hope SATs boycott will end testing

R. Garner

The Independent, Apr. 28th 2010, p.20

Mick Brookes, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), has said that the boycott of assessment tests for 11 year olds, due to start on 10th May, will go ahead following a vote in favour by members. All three party education spokesmen have said that they will hold talks with the NAHT and the National Union of Teachers (which is also boycotting the tests) following the election.

Head teachers in boycott 'should be suspended for a day'

N. Woolcock

The Times, Apr. 29th 2010, p.19

Ed Balls has suggested that school governors should suspend head teachers who refuse to oversee the assessment tests for 11 year olds, due to start in just over a week.

The home education of children with special needs or disabilities in the UK: views of parents from an online survey

S. Parsons and A. Lewis

International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 14, Feb. 2010, p. 67-86

The home schooling of children with disabilities or special educational needs (SEN) is one choice of provision that is often overlooked or unreported in the debate on inclusive education. This study aimed to access the views of home educating families through an online survey. Twenty-seven parents of children with SEN or disabilities who were being educated at home responded. Two-thirds identified 'push' factors away from school as their main reason for home educating their children, including bad experiences with formal provision and the perceived failure of schools to meet their child's needs adequately. Findings are discussed in relation to the personalisation agenda of education in the UK.

Implementing a play-based and developmentally appropriate curriculum in Northern Ireland primary schools: what lessons have we learned?

G.M. Walsh and others

Early Years, vol.30, 2010, p. 53-66

In the United Kingdom, tensions have existed for many years between the pedagogical traditions of pre-school, which tend to adopt developmentally oriented practices, and the more formal or subject-oriented curriculum framework of primary school. These tensions have been particularly acute in Northern Ireland, which has the earliest primary school starting age in Europe. In response to international research evidence and practice, a play-based and developmentally appropriate curriculum, known as the Enriched Curriculum, was introduced as a pilot in classes for four- to six-year-olds in over 100 primary schools in Northern Ireland between 2000 and 2002 and continued until the Foundation Stage became statutory for all primary schools in 2007. This paper discusses four key themes emerging from the evaluation of the enriched curriculum: the value and meaning of a play-based curriculum; the importance of teachers' confidence and knowledge; teaching reading in a play-based curriculum; and easing transitions in a play-based curriculum.

One in four teachers faces violence

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 29th 2010, p. 2

A survey of 1,000 members by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers has revealed that: 1) more than 25% of all respondents had been confronted with physical violence; 2) about 60% thought that standards of pupil behaviour had deteriorated over the past five years; and 3) almost 90% had had to deal with a badly behaved pupil in the current academic year, with most reporting low level disrespect and disruption.

Plans to raise participation age undergo more testing

R. Watson

Children and Young People Now, Mar. 30th-Apr. 5th 2010, p. 11

A further five pilot areas are to trial government plans to raise the school leaving age from 16 to 18 by 2015. These pilots will be looking at the delivery of advice and guidance, ways to engage 16- and 17-year-olds who drop out of learning, and the development of an area-wide strategy to engage all young people in education and training.

Promoting health and well-being through schools

P. Aggleton, C. Dennison and I. Warwick (editors)

London: Routledge, 2010

The contribution schools can make to improving students' health and wellbeing is increasingly recognised. Schools that have embraced this role and adapted policies and practices to create an environment in which young people feel safe and happy have reported broad and significant gains. Through expert contributions from active researchers and experienced practitioners, this book combines recent research with knowledge of the current climate in which schools are operating and provides an overview of the key issues that need to be addressed, including:

  • alcohol use
  • sexual health
  • drug use
  • obesity
  • mental health.

Schools blamed as poorest fail to get to university

J. Bingham

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 16th 2010, p. 14

In 2009, 64% of universities failed to meet expectations for recruitment of applicants from deprived neighbourhoods. The Russell Group of leading research institutions has responded by blaming schools for the low aspirations and underachievement of pupils from the poorest families that remain barriers to university entrance for many, despite millions being spent on widening access to higher education.

Secondary school transition: does mentoring help 'at risk' children?

V. Yadav, M. O'Reilly, and K. Karim

Community Practitioner, vol. 83, Apr. 2010, p. 24-28

Transition from primary to secondary school can be a critical period for children, particularly those identified as being 'at risk'. This study investigated whether a mentoring intervention could be especially valuable for 'at risk' children during the transition between primary and secondary school. Using data gathered from 88 children via pre-, mid- and post-intervention questionnaires, changes were assessed in self-esteem, resilience, locus of control and mental health difficulties. Positive changes were found in all measures.

Take parents of unruly pupils to court, headteachers are urged

R. Garner

The Independent, Apr. 1st 2010, p. 22

Speaking at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' conference, the Schools Secretary Ed Balls urged schools to take parents of persistently disruptive pupils to court where they could face fines of up to 1,000. Head teachers can already take parents to court, but figures released show that while more than 2,000 orders had been issued for truancy and poor attendance, so far none had been granted for poor behaviour.

Teachers join civil servants in strike threat against cutbacks

G. Hurst

The Times, Apr. 6th 2010, p.11

The National Union of Teachers has voted to combine forces with the largest civil service union to hold simultaneous strikes if pay is frozen or pensions cut. Both unions have urged the TUC to mobilise workers nationally.

(See also The Guardian, Apr. 6th 2010, p.13)

Tests deny children their human rights says teachers' leader

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, Apr. 7th 2010, p. 15

Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, has told the NUT conference in Liverpool that the national tests for 10 and 11 year olds (formally known as SATs) only give children the right to pass exams, not to be educated. The Human Rights Convention which Britain signed in 1991 gives children the right to a broad education which develops their 'personalities, talents and abilities to their fullest potential'. The NUT is balloting head teachers and deputy heads about whether to boycott the tests this year. The National Association of Head Teachers is also balloting members.

Through a different lens: exploring Reggio Emilia in a Welsh context

T. Maynard and S. Chicken

Early Years, vol. 30, 2010, p. 29-39

Following devolution in Wales, concerns about the perceived over-formalistion of young children's education led to the introduction of a Foundation Phase Framework for children aged three to seven that advocated a more holistic, play-based approach. Following the staging of the Reggio Emilia travelling exhibition in Swansea, funding was secured for a project in which teachers explored Reggio philosophy and practices as a means of gaining insight into their own thinking and pedagogy. Looking at their practice through another lens exposed teachers' commitment to an approach dominated by prescribed, subject-related outcomes. This means that moving away from a subject-centred approach and supporting child-centred learning as required by the Foundation Phase Framework may be extremely challenging for teachers.

Training of teachers

Children, Schools and Families Committee

London: TSO, 2010 (House of Commons papers, session 2009/10; HC 275)

Teacher quality is central to pupil attainment. This inquiry considered how effective the Department for Children, Schools and Families and its agencies have been in attracting and supporting the development of highly effective teachers. The report concluded that for much initial teacher training the entrance requirements are too low. The Training and Development Agency's 'skills tests' in literacy, numeracy and ICT should be made an entry requirement for initial training, and candidates should have just two chances to pass each test. Having a diversity of training routes is important in recruiting high calibre career changers to teaching. School-centred and employment-based provision should be expanded-though, in the case of employment-based initial teacher training, only when provision is consistently of a much higher quality. Much of a trainee teacher's time is spent training in a school. This feature of initial training has now been in place for over 15 years, yet still providers struggle to find a sufficient number of school placements. Furthermore, there is not a strong enough culture of professional development among teachers, and this must change radically if educational standards in schools are to improve. The report welcomes the requirement that teachers should gain and maintain a licence to practise. The professional standards for teachers, the drive to make teaching a masters-level profession, and the licence to practise should be brought together under one overarching framework- a 'Chartered Teacher framework'. Under this, as well as demonstration of competence against the relevant professional standards, teacher pay and progression would be linked to completion of a masters qualification and, subsequently, to completion of further accredited training.

Worlds apart: social variation among schools

A. Smithers and P. Robinson

Sutton Trust, 2010

This research found that the most popular comprehensive schools, which are not supposed to select pupils, are more socially exclusive than England's remaining grammar schools. The 164 most exclusive comprehensives took only 9.2% of pupils from poor backgrounds, even though about 20% of children living in their catchment areas were 'income deprived'. In spite of the Labour government's tightening of admissions rules, the wealthiest middle class families can still get their children into the best comprehensives by buying houses in the catchment area. On the other hand, some 13.5% of pupils at grammar schools, which admit pupils on the basis of an entrance examination, came from poor homes.

(See also Daily Telegraph, Apr. 12th 2010, p. 1)

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