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

Academies bill is urgent to improve schools, says Gove


The Guardian, July 20th 2010, p. 8

Speaking in the House of Commons, education secretary Michael Gove reacted to criticism that his proposed reforms will only benefit children and schools that are already performing well, saying that every school that acquires academy status 'will take an underperforming school under its wing, in order to ensure that all schools improve as a result'.

(See also The Guardian Comment & Debate, July 20th 2010, p. 27)

Back to schools

C. Ryan

Public Finance, June 11th-17th 2010, p. 14-17

Presents an overview of the education policies of the new Coalition government and their impact on local authorities. The government has introduced a Bill to allow outstanding primary and secondary schools to become academies without consulting their local authority and to enable funding for parents and teachers to establish free schools. Councils will be unable to block the establishment of free schools using planning rules. Money may have to be switched from the school renewal programme to fund them, and local authorities fear their projects may be lost. There are also concerns that the new academies created from outstanding primary and secondary schools will have no obligation to work with weaker schools and therefore may not be engines of social mobility. A Bill will also be introduced in Autumn 2010 to bring in the pupil premium, the Liberal Democrats' flagship policy for giving schools extra funding for every pupil they take on free school meals. However, the size of the pupil premium will be considered in the spending review.

Councils merge services to cut costs

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, July 6th-12th 2010, p. 12

In response to public sector spending constraints, two London boroughs are planning to merge their education departments. The two boroughs expect their plans to generate 20% savings over the next three years.

Dealing with complexity: theory of change evaluation and the full service extended schools initiative

A. Dyson and L. Todd

International Journal of Research and Method in Education, vol. 33, 2010, p. 119-134

In 2003 the then Department for Education and Skills launched the full service extended schools (FSES) initiative. This was aimed at supporting the development in every local authority area of at least one school providing a comprehensive set of services on a single site to pupils, their families and local communities. These services were expected to include childcare, health and social care, lifelong learning, parenting support, study support, sports and arts provision, and ICT provision. The complexity and indeterminacy of such initiatives present particular challenges to evaluators, and mean that simple input-output approaches to evaluation are inappropriate. This paper reports the use of a theory of change approach to FSES evaluation.

Gove kills off the AS level exam

R. Garner

The Independent, July 5th 2010, p. 14

The AS-level, introduced at the turn of the century by the previous government as an attempt to broaden the sixth form curriculum, is to be axed by Secretary of State Michael Gove as part of a revamp of A-levels. Speaking at a conference at Wellington's College, Gove also announced the expansion of the TeachFirst scheme, which fast tracks the country's best graduates into the teaching profession.

Gove cuts to end training for teaching assistants

R. Garner

The Independent, July 6th 2010, p. 16

Thousand more state school pupils are to be taught by unqualified teaching assistants as a result of the decision by the Department for Education to axe training opportunities for them. The announcement came on the day Secretary of State Michael Gove signalled the axing of the 55bn school building programme, a move described by shadow schools spokesman Ed Balls as 'a tragedy'.

Gove's free schools under the microscope

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, June 29th-July 5th 2010, p. 12-13

Free schools will be state-funded independent schools set up by teachers or parents. Free secondary schools are likely to have a restricted curriculum, delivered in relatively poor accommodation by non-specialist teachers. Free primary and secondary schools will both drain resources from the rest of the education system and will be too small to be run cost effectively.

Home education rules will have to change, says Gove

R. Bennett

The Times, July 28th 2010, p. 7

The education secretary, Michael Gove, has said that changes should be made to the home schooling system if it was found that children educated at home are at a greater risk of abuse or neglect. He promised to examine evidence presented by Birmingham City Council about the case of Khyra Ishaq who was starved to death by her mother and her stepfather after being taken out of school to be home educated.

Inept teachers 'not struck off but moved on'

N. Woolcock

The Times, July 5th 2010, p. 13

A BBC Panorama Documentary alleges that only 18 teachers have been permanently banned for incompetence in 40 years, and many are re-employed by other schools. The programme includes interviews with teachers who say they were offered a good reference in exchange for leaving their school.

(See also The Guardian, July 5th 2010 p. 11)

Inside an academy

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, June 29th-July 5th 2010, p. 18-19

As the Coalition government aims to expand the number of academy schools, this article presents a case study of the operation of Petchey Academy in East London, to show how it is improving the prospects of its pupils.

Kings and queens back on history curriculum

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, July 2nd 2010, p. 12

A review of the school curriculum in England is expected to set out the subject knowledge that pupils will be expected to attain at each stage, but will give schools more freedom to decide how to teach lessons. It is expected to emphasise key historical dates and facts, the great works of English literature, and mental arithmetic, and to focus on biology, chemistry and physics as separate sciences.

Last-minute law allows schools run by parents

M. Bowers

The Times, July 27th 2010, p.5

On the night of July 26th, the Academies Bill was rushed through Parliament, allowing new schools to be established free from local authority control. The Bill was passed by 317 votes to 225. Ed Balls, the shadow education Secretary, expressed fears that the changes would lead to 'social apartheid' in education.

New academies will leave pupils struggling to succeed, say critics

J. Shephard

The Guardian, July 26th 2010, p.18

Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers has criticised the bill to allow schools to opt out of local government control saying that it enables schools to ignore the views of staff and parents. Meanwhile, Graham Stuart, the Conservative chair of the Commons Education Select Committee has attacked the government for using measures reserved for emergency counter-terror laws to rush the bill through Parliament. An influential campaign group, The Campaign for Science and Engineering, has warned that taking schools out of local government control means that a whole generation of pupils could leave school seriously unprepared for modern working life.

(See also The Guardian, July 26th 2010, p.34)

Rebuilding of 700 schools scrapped as ministers seek 1.5bn more cuts

S. Coates

The Times, July 5th 2010, p. 6

Plans to rebuild 700 schools have been ditched as the Government announced the end of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme. Another 1billion is to be cut from this year's education budget, which is expected to mean youth projects will be cancelled and Sure Start projects for under-5s and other initiatives delayed for at least a year.

(See also The Guardian, July 5th 2010 p. 5; Financial Times, July 5th 2010; p.2, The Guardian, July 13th 2010, p.2)

School rebuilding falls under cuts

R. Prince

Daily Telegraph, July 6th 2010, p. 8

In the latest round of spending cuts, the government has announced the cancellation of Labour's Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme which was intended to fund the rebuilding or refurbishment of at least 1500 English schools. Seven hundred schools which have had 'financial closure' on building projects will see construction work go ahead, but a further 700 projects will be cancelled.

(See also Daily Telegraph, July 5th 2010, p.6)

Schools must 'gird loins' to get rid of bad teachers

R. Garner

The Independent, July 5th 2010, p. 18

Graham Stuart, Chairman of the House of Commons Select Committee on Education, demanded today that head teachers prepare themselves to sack incompetent staff, after the Teaching Council for England revealed that only 18 teachers had been struck off for inefficiency in 40 years.

Schools in no rush to form academies

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, July 30th 2010, p. 2

The Coalition government was accused of misleading the public after it emerged that only 150 schools have applied to become academies. The figure represents less than one in ten of the schools that originally registered an interest in breaking free of local authority control.

Schools to get 10m 'Olympics'

T. Rowley

The Independent June 28th 2010, p. 13

The government has announced plans to create a national schools games contest styled on the Olympics to tackle the decline in competitive sport among children. The scheme, in which school children will compete in regional run-offs to qualify for national finals in the run up to the 2012 Games, will receive 10m a year from Sports England to pay administration costs for the competition.

Schools will raise fees to pass charity test, parents are warned

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, July 9th 2010, p. 6

Private schools are under pressure from the Charity Commission to offer more free places to poor pupils in order to retain their charitable status. School leaders have warned that schools will probably raise fees in order to generate more funds for bursaries. Many are already struggling financially due to the economic downturn, and could be forced to close.

(See also Daily Telegraph, July 8th 2010, p.1)

Science and mathematics education, 5-14: a 'state of the nation' report

Royal Society

London: 2010

This report assesses maths and science teaching for five- to fourteen-year-olds. Pressure on schools to achieve good results has meant that learning in science has been reduced to little more than memorising facts. England's high stakes testing system leaves too little time for practical experiments, as teachers become increasingly focused on drilling pupils to pass examinations. The decline has been intensified by a lack of specialist science teachers, especially in primary schools.

Sharp rise in number of special needs pupils

R. Prince

Daily Telegraph, July 23rd 2010, p. 4

Ministers in the coalition government have ordered an inquiry into why numbers of pupils diagnosed with special needs have shot up in recent years. There are concerns that the diagnosis may be being overused to explain simple bad behaviour or even in order to get more money for the school.

Slow take-up for academies, despite pressure from Gove

G. Hurst

The Times, July 19th 2010, p.16

Approximately 50 state schools are likely to become academies in September 2010. These figures are likely to disappoint Michael Gove, the education secretary, who is rushing through legislation which will remove the power of local authorities to veto academies. Teaching unions oppose academies and are staging a lobby of Parliament in protest at Gove's decision to halt plans to rebuild 715 secondary schools.

Top schools offer less aid to poorer students

R. Williams

The Guardian, July 26th 2010, p.18

Researchers from Staffordshire University's Institute for Education Policy have found that the most prestigious schools (those ranked between 1 and 70 in a league table published by The Times) spent only 4.3% of their income on financial aid for poorer children. The study also showed that of the 348 private schools studied, over a quarter offer less than 5% of their total income for scholarships and bursaries.

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