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Welfare Reform on the Web (January 2011): Education - overseas

2009 Pisa Assessment Framework: Key competencies in reading, mathematics and science

Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2010

PISA 2009 Assessment Framework presents the theory behind the development of the latest survey. The re-worked and expanded framework for reading literacy includes not only the assessment of reading and understanding printed texts, but also an innovative component to assess how well students read, navigate and understand electronic texts. Additionally, this publication provides the basis for measuring mathematical and scientific competencies. Finally, it presents the theory behind the questionnaires used to gather information from students, schools and parents on students' home backgrounds, students' approaches to learning and school learning environments.

At the crossroads: Gypsy and Traveller parents' perceptions of education, protection and social change

M. Myers; D. McGhee and K. Bhopal

Race, Ethnicity and Education, vol. 13, 2010, p. 533-548

This article uses empirical data gathered during a pilot study funded by a local education authority to consider Gypsy and Traveller parents' perceptions of education. It examines the changing role of education within the lives of Gypsy and Traveller parents and children reflecting changing social circumstances, in particular how many parents now feel schooling has a greater place in their children's lives than would have been the case a generation ago. The research demonstrated that many families felt their children could learn skills at school and that would be necessary to generate an income in the future. This adaptation towards schooling designed for a sedentary population carried with it a large degree of concern from the point of view of Gypsy and Traveller parents around issues such as cultural erosion and safety, (issues that in the past may have led to many children not attending school). Employing concepts such as Goffman's umwelt and Putnam's description of defensive bonding social capital this article considers such concerns. It examines how parental anxiety about the transition from primary to secondary schools and the associated perceptions of risk posed by the permissive culture of the sedentary population materialize. It also explores how this transition coincides with parental tensions surrounding the 'early onset adulthood' of Gypsy and Traveller children who are regarded within their families and communities as being adults from an early age. Within this context, the article examines some of the very fluid adaptations being made by families to changing economic and social circumstances and also the roles adopted by members of the education 'community', in particular Traveller Education Services, in their relationships with Gypsy and Traveller families.

Do sectoral training funds stimulate training?

P. Kamphuis, A.C. Glebbeck and H. Van Lieshout

International Journal of Training and Development, vol.14, 2010, p. 273-290

Sectoral training funds are an arrangement aimed at alleviating a well-known theoretical problem of underinvestment in worker training as a result of free-rider behaviour of firms. Funds that are raised through a levy on the wage costs of all firms in a sector, and that are subsequently used to subsidise their training costs, lower the marginal costs of training, thereby making investment in it more attractive. In the Netherlands, collective agreements require firms to contribute to such funds in a number of sectors. Using a comprehensive dataset of Dutch firms, this research attempts to determine the extent to which sectoral training funds actually stimulate investment in worker training. Surprisingly, no evidence is found for the existence of such an effect. Training levels are not higher in sectors with a fund than in sectors without a fund.

Gender justice and education: constructions of boys within discourses of resentment, neo-liberalism and security

M. Mills and A. Keddie

Educational Review, vol. 62, 2010, p. 407-420

This paper examines the impact of a politics of resentment, neo-liberal policies, and security concerns on issues of gender justice in schools in various western countries. The authors argue that since the 1990s gender justice in schools has been severely hampered by a politics of resentment, or backlash politics, and the presence of neo-liberal discourses in education. Furthermore, they contend that current national security concerns in the post-September 11 context have compounded many of the challenges posed by these trends. They detail how such trends have produced constructions of boys as oppressed, as problems and as dangerous. They argue for a problematising of such constructions and of the anti-feminist, masculinist and imperialist discourses undergirding them. They propose that moving beyond such essentialising towards gender justice in education will require a critical engagement with the ways in which national security issues, such as the 'war on terror', are working alongside backlash politics and neo-liberal discourses to distort gender equity and schooling priorities.

Liberating Filipino Americans through decolonizing curriculum

P. Espiritu Halagao

Race, Ethnicity and Education, vol. 13, 2010, p. 495-512

As Filipino Americans continue to struggle academically in public schools, we must seek alternative frameworks to understand how their historical backgrounds and cultural identities have impacted their educational experience. Filipino Americans have a colonial history that has produced what scholars term as 'colonial mentality', a denigration of self and aspiration to be like the coloniser. Given the historical legacy of colonialism, educators have begun to look at developing curriculum and pedagogy within a decolonisation framework with the aim of emancipating students from ignorance and igniting a commitment to social change. In 1996, a multicultural teacher education programme, entitled Pinoy Teach, was launched to empower college students to teach Filipino American history and culture to middle school pupils. This article presents findings and implications from a survey research study that examined the long term impact on its college student teachers ten years later. Though the Pinoy Teach curriculum was not originally developed within a decolonisation framework, the results showed that the programme served as a tool to decolonise the college student teachers. The outcomes have implications for the conceptualisation and implementation of decolonising pedagogy and curriculum.

No league table, no inspection, no private schools

J. Vasagar

The Guardian, Dec. 6th 2010, p. 15

The Finnish education system contrasts sharply with England. Every child in Finland receives a free school meal and free education, including university. There are no league tables or inspections and there is only one national exam that children have to take on leaving school aged 18. The government conducts national assessments, sampling the population to keep track of school performance, but the results are not made public. With regard to the curriculum, the state decides what should be taught, but not how. The most striking difference between the Finnish and the British systems is that in Finland there are no private schools. Finland's success, as confirmed by the results of the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey, is due to the high status enjoyed by teachers in Finnish society. Following reforms in the 1980s, a master's degree is now required to enter the profession.

Seeing the strange in the familiar: unpacking racialized practices in early childhood settings

S. Brown, M. Souto-Manning and T. Tropp Laman

Race, Ethnicity and Education, vol. 13, 2010, p. 413-532

In this article, three educators share case studies describing racial biases and segregationist practices in early schooling. The authors draw upon critical race theory as a lens and employ critical discourse analysis to uncover classed and raced biases within and across three early childhood contexts. While the cases are situated in specific public school settings - a parent teacher association (PTA) fundraiser, a mandated literacy programme, and a read-aloud - they shed light onto a variety of contexts as these are all common phenomena in many American elementary schools. Together, the cases illustrate how racism has been normalised through familiar practices in early childhood settings. Through description and reflection, the authors suggest ways to start seeing the strange in the familiar, unpacking racialised practices across three settings, and advocating new ways of thinking about these common practices leading to change and transformation.

Vocational education and training - an engine for economic growth and a vehicle for social inclusion?

A. Nilsson

International Journal of Training and Development, vol. 14, 2010, p. 251-272

There has been a revival of interest in academic research on vocational education and training (VET) in recent years as it is believed to promote both economic growth and social inclusion. In this literature review, these assumed effects are critically examined. The review examines studies on the contribution of VET to productivity improvement at the company level, macroeconomic growth, the socialisation of young people (i.e. preparing teenagers to participate in society as adults), and combating youth unemployment.

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