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

Academies make their case with vastly improved results

G. Hurst

The Times, Aug. 25th 2010, p. 12

A number of academy schools showed improvements to their 2010GCSE results. Ministers have hailed their success as evidence that autonomy in education will drive up standards.

Academy funding contract drops key education duties

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, July 27th-Aug. 9th 2010, p. 9

The Department for Education has published a draft model funding agreement that will be used to set out the contract between the Coalition government and any new academy. There is concern that numerous clauses related to academies' duties, present in the contract used by the New Labour government, have been removed. Academies will no longer be required to promote child wellbeing or to have a designated teacher for children in care.

A-levels to get harder after results set new record

G. Paton and N. Collins

Daily Telegraph, Aug. 20th 2010, p. 1 + 5

The Coalition government is to begin a major review of qualifications in Autumn 2010. This could lead to the abolition of AS levels and a move towards more rigorous examinations taken at the end of a two-year course of study. This disclosure came amid claims that changes in A-Levels introduced under New Labour had failed to restore academic rigour or to halt year-on-year grade inflation.

Bright pupils 'held back' by league tables

R. Garner

The Independent, Aug. 23rd 2010, p. 6

The best GCSE candidates are not being given the best opportunities to excel due to government league tables, a head teachers leader has warned. The league tables' focus on percentage of pupils obtaining five A*-C grades has led schools to put less emphasis on stretching the brightest pupils according to John Dunford, head of the Association of Schools and College Leaders (ASCL).

Changing urban education

E. Burn, M. Maguire and S. Pratt-Adams

London: Continuum, 2010

This book considers the way teaching and learning is approached in the English urban settings and examines the debates concerning developments in wider social, cultural, political and economic contexts. Recent debates and developments are considered, including: the city as a social, cultural and economic resource, virtual communities, the impact of the forces of globalisation on urban education, challenging schools and urban policy, and mobile urban learning. The authors conclude by stressing the need for a new, critical urban pedagogy which is organic, creative and emancipatory.

Children missing from education: the actions taken to prevent children missing from education becoming 'lost to the system'


London: 2010

This survey evaluates the effectiveness of actions taken by local authorities in relation to children who are missing from education. Inadequate monitoring and reporting of movement between schools and towns means that councils are losing track of children and leaving them without any form of education. Children are allowed to go 'missing' because national systems for exchange of information between councils are not used consistently or correctly by schools. In other cases, local authorities are unaware that children are not in school because they have been unofficially expelled.

Class apart as football elite plans 'free' schools

M. Scott

The Guardian, Aug. 4th 2010, p. 1

Richard Scudamore, the English Premier League chief executive, is seeking meetings with officials from the Department for Education with a view to setting up free schools where the curriculum would be based around sport. The move follows the announcement that, despite Michael Gove's claim in the Commons of 700 expressions of interest, only 62 official applications to set up free schools have so far been received by the Department for Education.

Debating special education

M. Farrell

London: Routledge, 2010

Book examining a range of criticisms made of special education in recent years. Michael Farrell analyses several key debates about the challenges faced by special education and gives balanced critical responses to inform policy and practice for the future of special education. The author's conclusion is that in responding to the challenges, special education demonstrates its continuing relevance and strength.

Exclusion from school: short term setback or a long term of difficulties?

H. Daniels and T. Cole

European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol. 25, 2010, p. 115-130

This article draws on data gathered in a two year English government funded study of secondary school children who were permanently excluded from school and did not return to mainstream settings. It reflects on recent debates concerning different forms of school exclusion and considers what forms of service provision may prevent the multiple and overlapping forms of disadvantage that characterise 'deep' exclusion.

'Forget the flute and study harder'

J. Sugden

The Times, Aug. 27th 2010, p.16

The head of undergraduate admissions at Oxford University, Dr. Mike Nicholson, has suggested that extra-curricular activities are unimportant in obtaining a place at Oxford, but rather that what matters is pure academic ability. The advice contradicts that offered by the universities minister, David Willetts, who last week suggested that pupils should undertake voluntary work to improve their chances of getting a place at university.

Gender and achievement: are girls the 'success stories' of restructured education systems?

C. Skelton

Educational Review, vol. 62, 2010, p.131-142

There is a popular perception that girls' academic success means they have taken up the kinds of gender performances in the classroom previously associated with boys. However research shows that girls remain anxious about doing well and concerned about their relationships with other pupils. This paper offers an explanation as to how gendered classroom expectations and performances of girls have been translated from 'failure' to 'victory' without any actual changes in behaviour. Gender theory and education policy provide an explanation for this; but the article focuses attention on the implications for schools, classroom practice and teachers, arguing that the reason for doing so is a concern that feminist writing should engage more closely with the daily lives of teachers.

Gove under fire over academies claim

J. Shepherd and P. Wintour

The Guardian, July 30th 2010, p. 1-2

Michael Gove, the education secretary, has faced renewed criticism after exaggerating the scale of demand from schools to become academies. In a press release on 2 June Gove was quoted as saying that over 1,100 schools had applied to become academies to escape local authority control. It has emerged that only 153 schools have in fact applied. Ed Balls, Labour shadow education secretary, has accused Gove of 'railroading' legislation through Parliament using misleading information.

Gove welcomes atheist schools

R. Garner

The Independent, July 29th 2010, p. 16

The government is ready to back the creation of atheist schools as part of a series of reforms, secretary of state Michael Gove has told the Commons Education Select Committee. Mr Gove has also announced that the Labour MP Graham Allen will chair an independent commission to investigate ways to ensure that disadvantaged young people receive the best possible start in life.

Heads question whether GCSEs can inspire pupils as pass rates rise again

G. Hurst

The Times, Aug. 24th 2010, p. 11

It is expected that pupils taking GCSEs will be awarded grade C or above in 2010 in more than two thirds of subjects. Many of the most selective independent schools have argued that GCSEs get in the way of teaching and adversely affect students' enjoyment of their subjects. Some independent schools are moving towards the IGCSE as a replacement for the GCSE. This removes the coursework element of the qualification.

Is there a crisis in school science education in the UK?

E. Smith

Educational Review, Vol. 62, 2010, p.189-202

Drawing upon government reports over a period of 90 years, this paper reviews the extent to which concerns over the recruitment, training and retention of scientists have persisted among science education policy makers. The review finds that many of the concerns that preoccupy policy makers today, such as the perceived quality of the science teaching workforce, are the same that existed when science was first introduced as a school subject. This raises the issue of the role of policy in influencing educational change. The author questions whether there was ever a 'golden age' of science education in the UK.

Just six marks for C in GCSE science paper

J. Sugden

The Times, Aug. 27th 2010, p.16

Isabel Nisbet, chief executive of Ofqual (the exams watchdog) has said that this year's GCSE science examination papers were too easy and that there were inconsistencies between examination boards. Ofqual has expressed concerns about the science examination papers over the last two years.

Leading grammar says Baccalaureate is the future

R. Garner

The Independent, Aug. 20th 2010, p. 10

Chelmsford County High School for Girls, one of the country's leading state grammar schools, is to encourage pupils to switch from A-levels to the International Baccalaureate (IB) in September 2010.

Local authorities move to sue government over scrapping of school programme

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, Aug. 6th 2010, p. 4

At least two councils, Sandwell in the West Midlands and Nottingham, are taking steps to sue the government over the cancellation of multi million pound contracts to build new schools. The Building Schools for the Future Programme was cancelled by the coalition government in 2010 as part of massive public spending cuts.

Many rivers to cross, many bridges to build: how do we make the equalities happen in school?

J. Bednall

Race Equality Teaching, Summer 2010, p. 11-15

This article addressed the question whether integrating work 'on the equalities' across the curriculum, coupled with an understanding of creative, multimodal, socially and culturally inclusive teaching and learning pedagogies, can raise achievement across all abilities. It finds that for work on the equalities to have a positive outcome, society's confidence and trust in teachers as professionals must be re-built and the rights of teachers, pupils and parents must be seen in a positive relationship rather than in opposition with one another.

Maths is multiplying and science is fizzing, but language barrier is still as solid as ever

G. Hurst

The Times, Aug. 20th 2010, p. 6

The 2010 A-level results in science and mathematics have seen another rise in A grades and pass rates. The figures were welcomed as a sign that attempts to reverse a decline in the pursuit of science subjects by students have succeeded. Language subjects however, have seen a decline in interest and performance by students at A-level.

Meeting the needs of students with diverse backgrounds

E. Sage (editor)

London: Continuum, 2010

This collection of case studies tells the stories of individuals coping with diversity in UK schools today. The book focuses on real situations that challenge practitioners daily, such as culture and religion and English as an additional language. Each chapter leads to points for discussion and contains practical suggestions for improving classroom life, stressing the importance of being able to communicate, collaborate and co-operate across cultures, whether these are different nationalities or indigenous groups with differences and disabilities affecting the way they interact.

Minister's 'segregation' warning as independent schools shine

R. Garner

The Independent, Aug. 20th 2010, p. 10

Pupils at independent schools are three times more likely than those at comprehensives to gain A* grades, prompting the schools minister Nick Gibb to warn that the education system in the UK is 'one of the most segregated in the world'. Figures show that 17.9% of all independent school entries were awarded A* grades compared to 5.8% of all entries from comprehensive schools.

A novel parent-supported emotional literacy programme for children

S. Adams and others

Community Practitioner, vol. 83, Aug. 2010, p. 27-30

Supporting children to develop socially and emotionally is the responsibility of all professionals working with them. UK schools are supported in this through the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) curriculum. This paper describes a preliminary evaluation of a novel parent-supported child emotional literacy programme developed in Cornwall - the Parents and Children Together (PACT) programme In eight schools in Cornwall, 686 children from Years 3-6 and their parents participated in the PACT programme and were compared with 212 peers who received a standard SEAL curriculum. Parents of children participating in PACT reported a significant improvement in their child's emotional literacy compared with children receiving the standard SEAL.

Ofsted, exclusion and missing data: a vicious trio

E. Syke

Race Equality Teaching, vol. 27, Summer 2010, p. 21-24

This article compares the education system of Italy, where a totally inclusive system was created in 1977, with that in place in England and Wales since the introduction, in 1979, of competition. It concludes that totally inclusive schools can be entirely successful and can act as foundations for inclusive societies and that the inspection regime in place in England and Wales, driven by a competitive ethos, works against these goals and must be re-thought.

Questions of inclusion in Scotland and Europe

J. Allan

European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol. 25, 2010, p. 199-208

This article considers some of the uncertainties surrounding inclusion that are currently being raised by teachers and their union representatives, parents and children within the context of the changing policies of Scotland and Europe. The paper concludes with a discussion about the prospects and possibilities for inclusion, acknowledging the barriers that exist and arguing that there is an urgent need to address the competing policy demands within education and the problems associated with fragmented services. A call is also made for research involving children, young people and families in order to inform practice.

Sats test results mired in confusion

N. Collins

Daily Telegraph, Aug. 3rd 2010, p. 1

National Sats test results and teacher assessments for around 600,000 primary school pupils were published side by side in August 2010. Experts warned that there was a risk of confusion among parents if pupils were awarded different marks for the same subject, due to teachers' appraisals not matching test scores. The confusion arose because Labour education secretary Ed Balls decided in November 2009 to publish the two sets of figures together in a move designed to placate teaching unions.

Slump in language GCSEs

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Aug. 25th 2010, p. 1 + 6

Foreign languages could be made compulsory at GCSE level following an unprecedented collapse in the number of pupils studying French and German. The change will be considered as part of a general review of the school curriculum planned for Autumn 2010.

Slump in pupils studying languages 'will damage their job prospects'

R. Garner

The Independent, Aug. 25th 2010, p. 4

French has for the first time slipped out of the top 10 most popular subjects at GCSE, a sign of the decline in take up of languages in schools which employers believe will harm British students in the international jobs market. College leaders have urged ministers to stem the decline.

(See also The Times, Aug. 25th 2010, p.12)

School reform 'held up by trade union militants'

R. Winnett

Daily Telegraph, Aug. 30th 2010, p. 8

Only about 30 of the 2,000 schools that expressed an interest in converting to academies have done so before the start of the 2010/11 school year. A further 150 schools are waiting for their formal applications to be approved. The progress of the reform is alleged to have been slowed by aggressive union opposition and civil service lethargy.

Schools promoting 'bogus qualifications'

R. Garner

The Independent, Aug. 24th 2010, p. 15

Students from poorer background are being channelled towards vocational qualifications rather than GCSEs in a form of 'educational apartheid', the think tank Civitas has claimed.

State schools reject Tory offer to switch to IGCSE courses

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, Aug. 12th 2010, p. 6

Only 16 state schools have chosen to take up the government's suggestion that they teach International GCSEs, which are similar to O-levels with more of a focus on examinations as opposed to coursework and which are used by over 300 private schools in the UK.

(See also: The Independent, Aug. 12th 2010, p. 18)

Towards excellence in Early Years Education: exploring narratives of experience

K. Goouch

London: Routledge, 2010

This book describes the work of two Early Years Professionals, drawing on their narrative accounts as they robustly describe and analyse their work with young children. Against a background of increasing regulation and inspection of early years care and education, the author emphasizes the importance of building authentic relationships with children and their families, explores how play can be promoted as the central site for learning, and shows how professionals can use play to account for children's development and learning.

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