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

Academies and educational reform: governance, leadership and reform

E. Leo, D. Galloway and P. Hearne

Bristol: Multilingual Matters, 2010

While successful innovation and change is not unique to academies, this book illustrates how the academy policy represents a significant opportunity to improve the life chances of their pupils. Too much attention has focused on unanswerable questions about whether academies are better or worse than their predecessors or comparable schools in their neighbourhoods. Too little emphasis has been placedon what policy makers and practitioners can learn from the different, and often conflicting, perspectives of the key players, notably sponsors, architects, principals, parents and pupils in order to create schools that can truly serve their community with distinction.

Additional support needs reforms and social justice in Scotland

S. Riddell and others

International Studies in Sociology of Education, vol. 20, 2010, p. 179-199

New additional support-needs legislation in Scotland sought to recognise the way in which poverty, as well as individual impairment, contributes to the creation of children's difficulties in learning. As well as identifying a wider range of needs, the legislation sought to provide parents, irrespective of social background, with more powerful means of challenging local authority decisions on resource allocation, with the aim of delivering a fairer system. This paper uses Scottish Government statistics and family case studies drawn from an ESRC-funded project (RES-062-23-0803) to examine the links between social deprivation, the identification of additional support needs and parents' ability to use the new dispute resolution mechanisms. There is a strong association between the identification of additional support needs and social deprivation and this is particularly marked in relation to non-normative difficulties, such as social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, compared with normative difficulties such as blindness and deafness. Statutory educational plans, which provide greater rights to additional resources and formal dispute resolution mechanisms, are disproportionately distributed to parents in more advantaged neighbourhoods. Parents from middle-class backgrounds appear to be able to use their social and cultural capital more effectively to challenge local authority decisions. The paper concludes that some funding for additional support needs should be allocated on the basis of social deprivation, but there continues to be a requirement for the assessment and resourcing of individual needs, since poverty has material consequences for individual children, whose difficulties may be overlooked if an entirely systemic approach is adopted. There is a need for greater investment in advocacy services to enable parents from poorer backgrounds to exercise their rights.

The Annual report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills 2009/10


London: TSO, 2010 (House of Commons papers, session 2010/11; HC 559)

This Annual report presents evidence from inspection and regulatory visits undertaken between September2009 and August 2010 by the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted).Evidence is taken from inspection activity across th efull range of Ofsted's remit, including early years and childcare, children's social care, local authority services for children and provision for education and skills in schools, colleges and adult learning. The report draws upon the findings both of routine inspection visits and of the focused survey inspections through which Ofsted collects more detailed evidence about subjects and aspects of provision in social care, education and skills.

Axed free meals to pay for Gove's school scheme

J. Vasagar

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

Money saved from scrapping free school meals for up to 500,000 pupils will be used for a scheme under which groups will compete for cash to improve England's worst performing schools, the education secretary has announced. Academy sponsors, local authorities and headteachers with an outstanding track record will be encouraged to bid for funds to turn round failing schools, in a contest that will reward those offering the most ambitious plan for reform. The cash will come from an endowment fund started with 110m of public money saved by scrapping free school meals for pupils living below the poverty line. The project is expected to be outsourced by the government to a City fund manager who will assess the bids in consultation with education experts.

Choice and selection in school admissions: the experience of other countries

A. Smithers and P. Robinson

Sutton Trust, 2010

This research suggests that England, unlike other developed nations, is failing to give teenagers a specialist education to suit their aptitude. Most of the 30 developed nations studied give pupils a choice of technical training, academic study, or vocational courses. Schools in England do not offer a proper set of options, forcing all pupils down the same educational path. The study calls for a radical reform to create '14-to-18 education' which would allow pupils to focus on advanced specialist courses. GCSEs should become a national examination for 14-year-olds.

Failing schools will become academies

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Nov. 5th 2010, p. 1 + 16

The education secretary Michael Gove has ordered all English councils to draw up a list of schools that fail to reach minimum performance levels. This includes schools rated inadequate or merely satisfactory by Ofsted. Such schools could become independent academies under the leadership of a new head teacher and sponsored by education chains, private companies or charities.

Gove to approve plans for four more free schools in England

J. Vasagar

The Guardian, Nov. 5th 2010, p. 20

Four new applications to open free schools, led by parents and teachers, will be announced by the education secretary today. The announcement on free schools comes alongside plans to speed up the expansion of the number of academies, which have similar freedoms, as means of tackling England's most underperforming schools.

Gove to double the number of 'superherads'

R. Garner

The Independent, Nov. 17th 2010, p. 15

The education secretary Michael Gove has announced that the number of 'superheads' helping to tackle underperforming schools is to double. At present there are 393 heads rated 'outstanding' or 'good' by Ofsted taking part in the scheme and the number is set to rise to 1,000 by 2014.

Gove will allow heads to sack BNP members

J. Vasagar

The Guardian, Nov. 2nd 2010, p. 4

Head teachers are to be given powers to dismiss teachers who are members of the British National Party or other groups that have extremist tendencies, the education secretary Michael Gove has announced.

The importance of teaching

Department for Education

London: TSO, 2010 (Cm 7980)

This white paper sets out a package of far-reaching education reforms, including:

  • The creation of a new generation of 'training schools', in which aspiring teachers would be given on the job training
  • Refusing to fund teacher training for students who had failed to gain at least a 2:2 degree
  • A programme to pay for former Armed Forces officers to take postgraduate teacher training courses
  • The creation of a Teach Next scheme to recruit people from a range of trades and professions.
  • Giving head teachers the power to remove incompetent staff
  • The reintroduction of uniforms, house systems and prefects to improve school discipline. Teachers will also get more powers to search pupils, more protection from malicious allegations and freedom to restrain disruptive pupils physically. Head teachers will have the final decision on expulsions, preventing independent appeals panels from forcing children back into a school.
  • League tables will be reformed to rank schools on the number of pupils gaining five good GCSEs in core subjects. Controversial 'value-added' tables, which weight schools' scores by, among other things, the number of pupils from deprived backgrounds, will be scrapped.
  • More information will be published on school websites, including data on class sizes, reading schemes, examination results in specific subjects, attendance, behaviour and budgets.
  • Modular GCSEs, which allow pupils to take and be tested on courses in bite-sized chunks, will be scrapped in favour of straight examinations at the end of a two-year course. Pupils will be penalised for poor spelling, punctuation and grammar, and will be banned from repeatedly re-sitting GCSEs and A-Levels. SATS tests for 11-year-olds will be reviewed and a new reading test for 6-year-olds will be introduced.
  • Ofsted inspections will be limited to four key areas, teaching standards, leadership, pupil behaviour and achievement. Schools will no longer be judged on equality, the promotion of community cohesion and children's spiritual development.

Jamie Oliver to grill ministers over end of school meal grant

J. Sugden

The Times, Nov. 10th 2010, p. 17

The Government has cut support for Jamie Oliver's efforts to improve school dinners. A ring-fenced grant to raise the quality of ingredients while keeping down the cost of healthy meals will be absorbed into the main school budget in March 2011 leaving head teachers to decide between affordable healthy meals and new books and equipment. Jamie has gathered together experts in order to convince the health secretary of the detrimental impact of revoking the grant.

No more level playing fields

D. Conn

The Guardian, Nov 12th 2010, p. 37

On the day of the comprehensive spending review last month, Michael Gove announced he was scrapping the School Sport Partnership (SSP) which, led by the Youth Sport Trust, has secured 2.4bn of government and lottery funding which has been invested in school sport since 2003. The 162m SSP budget will be transferred into the overall school budget. In the letter delivered to Sue Campbell, chair of the Youth Sport Trust, Gove wrote that the government 'will work to develop a model to assist an Olympic style approach to school sport'.

(See also The Independent, Nov. 22nd 2010, p. 8)

Not present and not correct: understanding and preventing school exclusions

J. Evans

Barnardo's, 2010

Excluding young people from school is expensive and does little to improve behaviour according to children's charity Barnardo's. Despite the encouraging decline in the use of permanent exclusion over recent years, fixed-term exclusions are still over-used. Secondary schools in England imposed 307, 840 fixed-term exclusions in 2008/09, equating to more than 800,000 days of missed education. If the intention is to send a short sharp message to young people that their behaviour is not acceptable then the message is clearly not being received; two thirds of secondary school fixed period exclusions were given to pupils who had already received one earlier in the year, showing that such exclusions are very frequently ineffective.


Oxford targets Britain's top private schools

T. Rowley

The Independent, Nov. 15th 2010, p. 18

More than a fifth of Oxford outreach events, designed to encourage applicants from non traditional backgrounds were put on for pupils at independent and private schools, documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal.

Quality control in primary schools: progress from 2001-2006

R. H. Hofman, J. de Boom and W.H. A. Hofman

School leadership and Management, vol. 30, 2010, p. 335-350

This article presents findings of research into quality control (QC) in schools from 2001-2006. In 2001 several targets for QC were set and the progress of 939 primary schools is presented. Furthermore, using cluster analysis, schools are classified into four QC-types that differ in their focus on school (self) evaluation and school improvement. Accordingly, the progress of those four types of quality control from 2001 to 2006 is shown. Next, regression analyses have been conducted to find predictors of school progress in QC. Finally, attitudes of schools towards external quality control is discussed.

Rich schools will get richer under spending cuts

J. Vasagar

The Guardian, Nov. 16th 2010, p. 13

Research conducted by the House of Commons Library shows that the real level of funding per pupil will fall by around 2.4% under the government's spending plans for education, with money shifting from councils in more deprived areas to richer ones.

Schools that go it alone do best, says thinktank

J. Vasagar

The Guardian, Nov. 8th 2010, p. 16

The most successful schools ignore government advice and set their own standards for effective teaching, a report by the thinktank Reform reveals. Successful schools have an open culture, says the report, with head teachers regularly popping into classrooms informally. By contrast, class size makes little difference.

School's out: children take to the street

P. Walker and others

The Guardian, Nov. 25th 2010, p. 1

Up to 130,000 students and school pupils, same as young as 13, walked out of class, marched and occupied buildings around the country on Nov. 24th in a second day of mass action within a fortnight to protest at education cuts and increased university tuition fees.

Special educational needs: a public issue

A. Liasidou

International Studies in Sociology of Education, vol. 20, 2010, p. 225 - 239

This article explores the contribution of sociological scholarship to understanding and analysing the notions of 'special educational needs' and 'disability' and the ways in which the two notions have been reconfigured and theorised as 'public issues' rather than 'personal troubles'. Barton's contribution is highlighted both in terms of his contribution to the evolution of the 'sociological imagination' - as a powerful theoretical tool for unravelling the highly political and contested nature of disability and special educational needs - and also in terms of his analysis of the emergence and development of sociological theorising in the field. The parochial obsession with deficit and medical-oriented approaches to dealing with 'difference' and 'need' have been significantly challenged through the 'sociological imagination' aimed at pointing up the highly political and complex nature of disability and 'special educational needs'. Times have changed and sociological theorising has evolved, but presumed 'personal troubles' are still not unequivocally conceptualised as being intertwined with, resting upon and emanating from 'public issues' embedded in the social, cultural and political edifice of educational, social and national communities. The 'sociological imagination' should be constantly invoked and deployed in order to expose and challenge the sophisticated ways in which individual pathology accounts and special educational imperatives re-invent themselves through more inclusive linguistic veneers.

Teachers' pay and sickness records to be published

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Nov. 9th 2010, p. 1

Under coalition government plans to drive up education standards, schools will be forced to publish teachers' salaries, qualifications and sickness records. Other measures relating to pupils will also be published for the first time, including the amount of money spent per child and how many hit new-style targets for progress in basic subjects between the ages of five and 11. Parents will be able to use the data as a basis for choosing a school for their child.

Top athletes warn MP not to axe school sports grant

D. Campbell

The Guardian, Nov. 30th 2010, p. 14

Dozens of British medal winners including Denise Lewis, Tessa Sanderson and Jason Queally have pleaded with David Cameron to reverse the planned ending of the 162m annual grant to schools for encouraging sport.

Top schools can expand to meet demand

C. Hope

Daily Telegraph, Nov. 1st 2010, p. 1

Under plans being drawn up by the education secretary, primary and secondary schools will be freed from limits on pupil places imposed by local authorities by converting to academy status. High-performing schools will then be allowed to accept as many pupils as they can physically accommodate, while poor schools could see numbers decline sharply and be forced to close. These proposals are a response to concerns that councils are limiting the size of popular schools to stop them from draining pupils from inferior schools nearby. (See also Daily Telegraph, Nov. 15th 2010, p. 2)

Unions and academics oppose planned tests for six-year-olds

R. Garner

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

Plans for new national reading tests for six-year-olds will be included in the coalition government's education White Paper. Education secretary Michael Gove launched a consultation and there are early signs of opposition to the scheme from teaching unions and academics. Gove insisted the tests would be light touch phonics-based checks, but John Bangs, visiting professor at London University Institute for Education, argued money would be better spent ensuring teachers are adequately trained in how to assess reading skills. Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said that the cost to introducing yet another test would be better spent on investment to help children who find it difficult to learn how to read. Martin Johnson, the deputy general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said 'After all the [government's] talks of setting teachers free, it now wants to chain them further with yet another high stakes test.'

Unruly pupils 'hidden' from Ofsted inspectors

R. Williams

The Guardian, Nov. 18th 2010, p. 13

Head teachers are employing a array of tricks to keep unruly pupils hidden from Ofsted inspectors, MPs were told. Speaking to the education select committee, Tom Trust, former elected member of the General Teaching Council for England (GTCE) revealed that children may be temporarily suspended or supply teacher brought in to cover terrible classes, just before Ofsted inspections.

(See also Daily Telegraph, Nov. 18th 2010, p. 18)

Welfare regimes and educational inequality: a cross-national exploration

T. Peter, J. D. Edgerton and L. W. Roberts

International Studies in Sociology of Education, vol. 20, 2010, p. 241-264

Research on welfare state regimes and research on educational policy share a common concern for the reduction of social inequality. On one hand, welfare state research is typically designed within a comparative approach where scholars investigate similarities and differences in social institutions across selected countries. On the other hand, the basic model of educational policy research is usually country specific and seldom identifies why and how we are to understand cross-national differences pertaining to social inequality. The goal of this research is to bridge these two areas by testing socio-economic gradients and educational outcomes among 15 industrialised countries (using 2003 PISA data) from a welfare state perspective. Results support Esping-Andersen's 'three worlds' typology in that the level of between-school educational inequality is the highest in conservative welfare states and is the lowest in social-democratic countries.

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