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

The Academies Programme

National Audit Office

London, TSO, 2010 (House of Commons papers no. 288, session 2010-11)

This report warns that academies' performance to date cannot be assumed to be an accurate predictor of how the model will perform when generalized over many more schools, given that the future number is likely to include schools with a much wider range of attainment, and operating in very different community settings. Furthermore, the expansion of the programme increases the scale of risks to value for money - particularly in the areas of financial sustainability, governance and management capacity. With greater numbers of academies opening in recent years, the capacity of the Department for Education to administer and monitor the programme has been stretched.


Baccalaureate planned to reverse the decline in foreign languages

R. Garner

The Independent, Sept. 6th 2010, p. 9

A new English baccalaureate exam is being planned by ministers to fight the decline in the number of young people studying languages and science at GCSE. The new qualification will be awarded to any student who gains A* to C grades GCSE passes in five subjects: English, maths, modern foreign languages, science and a humanity.

(See also The Guardian, Sept. 6th 2010, p. 4; Daily Telegraph, Sept. 6th 2010, p. 6)

Behaviour, classroom management and student 'control': enacting policy in the English secondary school

M. Maguire; S Bell and A. Braun

International Studies in Sociology and Education, Vol. 20, June 2010, p. 153-170

This paper draws on ESRC-funded study on policy enactments in English secondary schools, based on case studies on four similar ordinary schools. The paper has two aims: to develop a theory of policy enactment and to explore empirically the differences in the enactments of policy in similar contexts. The paper finds that behaviour, classroom management and student 'control' remain significant aspects of education policy and practice I schools and examines what is involved in policy enactment from a policy sociology perspective. It argues that policy, even when centrally managed, is translated, adjusted and worked on differently by diverse sets of policy actors. Thus variability and distinctiveness characterise policy enactments at the different levels of practice within and between individual, but similar, schools.

Blow for Clegg as party votes to reject 'divisive' free schools

G. Hurst

The Times, Sept. 9th 2012, p.9

The Liberal Democrats have passed a motion agreeing to boycott the Government's policy on free schools. They have branded the Government's education policy as 'divisive'. The party conference rejected a plea from the party's education minister, Sarah Teather, who advocated that the Liberal Democrats should support the policy.

Cheerleading and yoga in PE lessons

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 24th 2010, p. 12

Official figures show that schools are turning to yoga, cheerleading, circus skills and trampolining in order to get pupils to participate in sport. Teachers are abandoning competitive sports such as rugby, hockey and netball in order to boost numbers participating in PE lessons.

Children will face exams as difficult as any in the world

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 7th 2010, p. 4

The education secretary, Michael Gove, has announced that action will be taken to restore confidence in the examination system, including an overhaul of regulator Ofqual. The regulator will be ordered to gather test papers from some of the world's most respected education systems and use them as a benchmark in assessing British qualifications. This is likely to lead to a dramatic rise in the standards teenagers are expected to meet to obtain good grades in A-levels and GCSEs.

Conflicts of ethos: issues of equality and diversity in faith-based schools

G. McNamara and J. Norman

Educational Management, Administration and Leadership, Vol. 38; Sept. 2010, p. 534-546

This article begins by exploring the way in which traditional symbiotic relationship between church and state in Irish education is being challenged by the development of recent equality legislation, specifically with regard to LGBT where a review of development in sex education in the last decades suggests that the church has used its powers to limit state intervention. The article finds that, despite the raft of employment and equality legislation of recent years, church-controlled schools have retained, because of various legal exemptions, power to potentially discriminate against teachers and pupils on the grounds of ethos. The article concludes that the evidence of the research strengthens the concerns about potential conflicts between faith-based schools and the employment of both equality legislation and revised curricula in the field of sex education.

Contemporary perspectives on early childhood education

N. Yelland (editor)

Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill, 2010

This book considers and interrogates a range of new and critical issues in contemporary early childhood education. It discusses both fundamental and emerging topics in the field, and presents them in the context of reflective and contemporary frameworks. Bringing together leading experts whose work is at the cutting edge of contemporary early childhood education theory and research across the world, this book considers the care and education of young children from a global perspective and deals with issues and groups of children or families that are often marginalized. The authors challenge traditional views and maintain that new ways of thinking and doing are required in these new times. The chapters in this book highlight some of the most important issues as catalysts for discussion and critique. Central to the discussions is the notion that these are complex issues that warrant debate and that there are often no simple solutions to them. These theoretical perspectives are situated in practice with the use of engaging case studies.

Councils' link with schools to be transformed

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Sept. 14th-20th 2010, p. 8-9

The coalition government has expressed its determination to free all schools from local authority control. This article discusses the role that local councils could play in the new system. Plans for the forthcoming schools white paper envisage the councils' new role as having four components: commissioning excellent education; owning school improvement; managing admissions and fair access; and being local champions for social justice.

Early intervention: a new potential for education welfare

National Association of Social Workers in Education


This policy paper calls for urgent investment in the education welfare profession at national level, and in individual officers at local level, in spite of public spending cuts. It recommends a review of the role that education welfare services play in children's services. The review would: 1) shed light on the complexity of the role, including its contribution to safeguarding, school improvement, childcare, breaking cycles of deprivation and preventing youth offending; 2)identify the best way to integrate the education welfare officer role into the broader field of early intervention services; and 3) outline successful service delivery models. The paper also calls on government to establish a timescale for improved regulation of the service, including access to professional development and training.

Education, global justice, and the contribution of Lynn Davies

M. Schweisfurth and C. Harber (editors) Educational Review, Vol. 62, Aug. 2010, p. 251-370 This special issue of Educational Review celebrates the work of Professor Lynn Davies in the areas of education and global justice, a field in which her contribution has been both significant and original. Lynn taught in schools in England, Mauritius, and Malaysia before joining higher education, initially at the (then) Wolverhampton Polytechnic and then at the School of Education, University of Birmingham, where she was director of the Centre for International Education and Research from 1996 to 2006.

Ensuring access and inclusion for marginalised children in extended services: identifying the barriers and promoting choice

N. Frost; S. Elmer and L. Best

British Journal of Special Education, Vol. 37, Sept. 2010, p. 113-121

This article looks at the existence of marginalised children in extended services. The authors conducted research on access to, and inclusion in, extended services based in schools and children's centres. A wide range of research methods were employed, including both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The voices of children, their parents and a range of professionals were gathered to inform the study. The study identifies barriers that limit children's opportunities for inclusion and solutions to overcome these barriers. Following completion of the research, a toolkit was developed to enable extended services to assess and improve their practice.

Exam system 'diseased', claims former education advisor

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, Sept. 17th 2010, p.13

A former government minister, Mick Waters, has published a new book - Reinventing Schools, Reforming Teaching - which suggests that England's exam system is 'diseased' and rife with 'insider trading'. He also suggests that the regulating body, Ofqual, has lacks the courage to challenge exam boards.

Failing primaries to become academies

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 2nd 2010, p. 11

The education secretary has signalled that the coalition government will challenge all schools with persistent and serious problems identified by Ofsted. Those which do not improve quickly, including primary schools, will have their management replaced by an academy sponsor with a proven track record.

(See also Daily Telegraph, Sept. 2nd 2010, p. 19)

Fee-paying schools may be spared 'free places' charity rule

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 30th 2010, p. 5

In order to retain their charitable status under the Charities Act 2006, private schools have to demonstrate that they offer public benefit. The Attorney General has ordered a review of Charity Commission guidance insisting that private schools can most easily demonstrate that they provide public benefit by offering more free places to poor children. The Independent Schools Council has claimed that the Commission is misinterpreting the law, and so acting illegally.

(See also The Times, Sept. 30th 2010, p. 21)

First 16 'free' schools unveiled in offices, churches and libraries

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 7th 2010, p. 4

Details of the first 16 'free schools' approved by the Department for Education were announced on Sept. 6th 2010. They will be state funded but run by parents, religious groups, charities, and childcare providers. Many will use existing buildings to keep costs down. Labour branded the announcement laughable, claiming that the low number of schools showed that there was little support for the reform.

First of Gove's new studio schools open for business

N. Woolcock and J. Sugden

The Times, Sept. 10th 2010, p. 18

Teenagers will start this week at Barnfield Enterprise Academy in Luton one of the first studio schools catering specifically for 14 - 19 year olds and providing teaching with a more practical focus. The school is designed for no more than 300 pupils, all of whom will undertake 12 hours of paid work experience per week as part of their course.

Gender balance in teaching debate: tensions between gender theory and equality policy

S. Riddell and L. Tett

International Journal of Inclusive Education, Vol. 14; Aug. 2010, p. 463-477 This article draws on findings from a research project by the Scottish Executive into gender balance in teaching and the underlying reasons for the decline in the number and proportion of men, particularly in secondary schools. It begins by considering tensions between modernist and post-structuralist accounts of sex and gender, it then goes on to consider the accounts given by students and teachers of the reasons for their own choice of teaching as a career, their experiences in teaching and their views as to why the number and proportion of men within the teaching profession as declined. The aim of the study is to understand whether students and teachers believe that sex is an important variable structuring their lives, including their decision to become a teacher or whether they regard gender as something which is chosen from a wide repertoire of options and is relatively free from constraints of embodiment. The article concludes that there is a need to make use of the idea of gender as performance whilst holding on to the fundamental concepts of 'man' and 'woman'. This is necessary to understand and monitor the career paths and underlying power relations of women and men in teaching and to transform these over time.

Girls think they are brighter than boys at age four, study finds

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, Sept. 1st 2010, p. 13

Researchers at the University of Kent have found that girls think they are brighter and work harder than boys by the age of four, and boys think girls will outperform them at school by age seven or eight. It argues that teachers have lower expectations of boys, which can be self-fulfilling.

Gove axes red tape to show trust in teachers

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 24th 2010, p. 12

In its drive to cut bureaucracy, the coalition government has abolished the self-evaluation forms introduced in schools in 2005 by the Labour government. Head teachers spent a large amount of time updating the documents every year to aid the Ofsted inspection process. This involved answering around 100 questions and showing how they met a raft of legal requirements.

Gove persuades headteachers to back down on boycott of SATs

R. Garner

The Independent, Sept. 27th 2010, p. 22

Head teachers have called off their boycott of national curriculum tests for 11 year olds after being promised an independent review by the education secretary Michael Gove.

Gove's schools revolution begins with a whimper

R. Garner

The Independent, Sept. 3rd 2010, p. 17

Only 32 schools will transfer to academy status on the first day of term, despite claims by secretary of state, Michael Gove, earlier in the summer that 1,100 schools were waiting to take advantage of the government's offer.

(See also The Guardian, Sept. 7th 2010, p. 16)

Gove to let schools put poor pupils first

P. Wintour and J. Vasagar

The Guardian, Sept. 14th 2010, p.10

Michael Gove, the education secretary plans to give schools the right to make a preference for children from poor backgrounds in their admission policies. The freedom will be extended to all primary and secondary schools in England or Wales. It is likely that the definition of 'poor' will extend to children who have ever been on free school meals, rather than simply those who are on them currently.

Independent schools to open their sixth forms to state pupils

R. Garner

The Independent, Sept. 24th 2010, p. 24

Pupils from state schools are to be recruited into independent schools sixth forms under a radical plan unveiled this week by David Levin, newly appointed president of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) which represents traditional boys-only private schools such as Eton and Harrow. The scheme will be tailored to pupils that want to study what are officially described a strategic, but vulnerable subjects such as maths, sciences and modern foreign languages.

Leading learning through Assessment for Learning

W. F. Boyle and M. Charles

School Leadership and Management, Vol. 30, July 2010, p. 285-300

This article examines the origins and purposes of Assessment for Learning (AfL) within the context of the National Curriculum Assessment in England. As part of the primary strategy, AfL became part of the government's drive to improve standards by measuring school's outcomes. The authors describe their investigation into teachers' understanding of AfL, how AfL has influenced teaching, learning and assessment during the intervening six years and whether it has established a presence as part of the teaching pedagogy.

Middle class pupils still winners despite admissions lottery

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, Sept. 3rd 2010, p. 8

Researchers from the Institute of Education and Bristol University, looking at the lottery admissions system used by Brighton & Hove, have found that the lottery system alone does not give children from poorer backgrounds a better chance to getting into the best schools. Brighter pupils also fared less well. The study, which is being presented at the British Education Research Association Conference today, suggests ways in which the system could be improved.

The move to faculty middle management structures in Scottish secondary schools: a case study

C. Anderson and G. Nixon

School Leadership and Management, Vol. 30, July 2010, p. 249-264

This article looks at the move from a management structure based on discrete subject departments managed by subject specialist principal teachers within the context of the Scottish secondary schools, towards grouping of subjects (faculties) with a single manager. The article assesses the impact of the change upon the experience of students and probationer teachers in view of drawing conclusions about the wider issues of adopting flatter management structures, especially for small subject departments. The empirical work used to inform this article is a survey of probationer and PGDE (Professional Graduate Diploma in Education) students within the subject RE surveyed in January/February 2008.

On the shortcomings of our organisational forms: with implication for educational change and school improvement

D. Waite

School Leadership and Management, Vol. 30, July 2010, p. 225-248 This article informs school improvement and educational change from a completely different perspective. Building upon recent research in neural psychology, primatology and ethology, the article examines the four common and general types of organisational structures. Status and dominance hierarchies are examined, as are the dynamics of collaboration/competition and collectivism/individualism. Final consideration is given to the concept of culture and community, especially as they manifest themselves in school improvement literature.

Perpetual resits are distorting A-level results, says exam chief

G. Hurst

The Times, Sept. 27th 2010, p. 3

Andrew Hall, the chief executive of the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) has said that preliminary research suggests that repeated resits overstate the ability of AS and A level students. He has suggested that there is a case for banning more than one resit per A level and for reducing the weighting of AS examinations.

Poorer pupils head for front of the queue

R. Winnett and G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 14th 2010, p. 1 + 2

The coalition government is considering allowing the new generation of free schools and academies to use family income as a criterion for allocating places alongside current factors such as location. Schools would be encouraged to admit poorer pupils by the offer of 2,000 extra per year for each child on the roll eligible for free school meals.

Pupils from ethnic minorities 'get more attention'

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 15th 2010, p. 12

Research suggests that white British children are falling behind pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds because they receive less attention from teachers in some poorly performing schools. It is claimed that the pressure of school league tables may lead teachers to focus on minority ethnic pupils in their GCSE year on the grounds that they are close to achieving the target of five A* to C grade passes. White British children who are likely to pass or fail anyway therefore get less attention. This hypothesis is used to explain why ethnic minority pupils experience larger gains in test scores than white British pupils.

Rethinking disability: a disabilities studies approach to inclusive practices

J. W. Valle and D. J. Conner

Maidenhead : McGraw-Hill, 2010

In response to concerns about teacher retention, especially among teachers in their first to fourth year in the classroom, this publication offers future teachers a series of brief guides full of practical advice that they can refer to in both their student teaching and in their first years on the job.

Schools cut will hit the poorest

P. Curtis

The Guardian, Sept. 13th 2010

The Department for Education has assessed the decision by Michael Gove to scrap the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) project to conclude that children from the most disadvantaged homes will be most affected.

Schools must earn poor pupil payment, charity tells Gove


The Guardian, Sept. 2nd 2010, p. 6

The Sutton Trust has advised education secretary Michael Gove that only schools that give priority to children from disadvantaged backgrounds should get the full pupil premium, a new financial incentive to reward schools for accepting poorer pupils.

Schools shun parenting classes

R. Garner

The Independent, Oct. 1st 2010, p. 20

A government plan to improve the behaviour of unruly pupils by sending their parents to compulsory parenting classes has been a complete failure according to figures released by the Department for Education, with not a single school or local authority making use of the policy in the five years since its introduction.

Schools 'use special needs as an excuse'

J. Sugden, G. Hurst

The Times, Sept. 14th 2010, p.1 and 8

A report from Ofsted has suggested that schools are wrongly identifying children as having special needs in order to cover up poor teaching and boost funding. Christine Gilbert, the Chief Inspector of Schools, has said that it is often the case that children just need better teaching. The system of support for children with special needs is about to be overhauled.

(See also The Independent, Sept. 14th 2010, p.14)

Social class affects white pupils' exam results more than those of ethic minorities - study

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, Sept. 3rd 2010, p. 4

Research by the Institute of Education and Queen Mary College, University of London has found social class has a bigger effect on the GCSE results of white pupils than those from other ethnic backgrounds. The study analysed official data for thousands of pupils from 2003-2007.

The special educational needs and disability review: a statement is not enough



This report claims that as many as half of the children identified as having special educational needs are actually underachieving due to poor teaching and low expectations. It suggests that schools are encouraged to over-identify pupils to attract more funding from councils and improve their position in league tables that give weighting to schools with high numbers of special needs children. It also suggests that middle class parents now push for their children to be registered as having special needs to ensure that they receive extra tuition.

Tory council may make all schools academies

R. Williams

The Guardian, Oct. 1st 2010, p. 10

Tory controlled Surrey County Council is considering converting all of its 53 secondary schools to academy despite none of the county's secondary schools taking up Gove's recent invitation for schools rated outstanding to get academy status.

Unhappy returns

C. Ryan

Public Finance, Sept. 10th-16th 2010, p.14-17

This article comments on the progress of the education reforms being introduced by secretary of state, Michael Gove. It covers the botched review of the Building Schools for the Future programme, over optimistic attempts to introduce free schools and to expand the academies programme, and snags with the proposed pupil premium. It points out that this ambitious reform programme could be undermined by public spending cuts to be announced in October 2010.

Wanted: trainee teachers to mark Edexcel exams

R. Garner

The Independent, Sept. 23rd 2010, p. 12

Edexcel, one of the country's largest exam boards, is advertising for student teachers to help mark GCSEs and A-levels next summer. The move is being criticised by teachers leaders who argue that only trained teachers should do the job.

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