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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2011): Education - UK - schools

Advanced GNVQs, AVCEs and Level 3 Diplomas in England: a motivational analysis

D. Wellings, K. Spours and J. Ireson

Research in Post-Compulsory Education, vol. 15, 2010, p. 387-403

This paper reviews recent research that has questioned the efficacy of using what has been defined as 'policy with regard to student motivation' to enhance retention and achievement among vocational students. This research examined the contradictions between GNVQ and AVCE policy and the student perceptions of these courses at two schools and a college in the south east of England. It identified a conceptual framework for estimating Advanced GNVQ and AVCE students' expectancies, values and self-regulated learning and demonstrated the value of using psychological theory and methodology to test policy assumptions regarding the motivation of students. The research identified tensions between the vocational policy discourse and end-users perceptions and may provide important lessons for policymakers who appear to be adopting the same approach with regard to student motivation in the rhetoric, design and function of the Level 3 Diploma.

'Bac' blamed for cuts in arts subjects

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, Feb. 7th 2011, p. 8

Scores of secondary schools have made the snap decision to narrow pupils' choices of arts subjects for September 2011 after ministers called for many more students to take English, maths, science, one foreign language and one humanity in order to qualify for the English Baccalaureate.

Balancing acts in the half-way houses: the role of resourced provisions in mainstream schools

G. White

British Journal of Special Education, vol. 37, 2010, p. 175-179

This article by Gordon Stan White, who is SENCo and Head of Foundation Stage Resourced Provision at Lowerhouses CE School in Huddersfield, considers the role of resourced provisions or 'units' within the present school system. Issues discussed include transition, the impact of children being transported out of their local communities, the social and academic benefits and tensions for the children, implications for mainstream teachers and support assistants, and the impact on school standards. The article also discusses the role of resourced provisions in the wider debate over inclusion, analysing whether they are an integral part of genuinely inclusive educational provision or simply make up deficiencies within a fundamentally flawed system. The author concludes that, in the absence of the political will and funding to create a truly inclusive system, although resourced provisions have significant limitations, the access they offer to a mainstream environment with mainstream peer role-models coupled with specialist support provides the best opportunity within the present system for children with special educational needs to make academic, social and emotional progress.

Behaviour and discipline in schools

Education Committee

London: TSO, 2011 (House of Commons papers, session 2010/11; HC516) The Committee heard evidence that pupils who are positively engaged in learning are less likely to have behaviour problems and recommends that the future curriculum should contain a mix of academic and vocational subjects in order to meet the needs of all pupils. Children who have basic skills in literacy and comprehension are less likely to misbehave, and the Government should assess six-year-olds' speaking and listening ability as well as reading ability. The Committee found that data currently collected does not give a full picture of the nature and impact of behaviour in schools, nor does it provide evidence to determine changes over time. It recommends that sample data on all serious incidents in schools should be collected, complemented by survey data from teachers, pupils, parents and carers. The Committee heard evidence of very serious shortcomings in access to children's mental health services and says the Department for Education and the Department of Health must cooperate to allow schools better access to support services. The introduction of a 'trigger' for an assessment of need, based on exclusion, should be considered, says the Committee, to ensure that children with undiagnosed special educational needs do not 'fall through the net'. New powers allowing schools not to have to give parents 24 hours' notice of out-of-hours detention should be used sensibly and appropriately, with particular sensitivity to the needs of young carers and pupils with travel difficulties.

Bottom 53 secondary schools more than half empty, figures reveal

J. Vasagar

The Guardian, Feb. 16th 2011, p. 12

More than 50 poorly performing secondary schools in England are nearly half empty after being deserted by parents, according to a new analysis showing the intense competition to secure the best state education for children. There are currently 300,000 surplus places in secondary schools in England and more than half of these are in the worst performing 25% of schools.

Centre of the world

N. Valios

Learning Disability Today, Dec.2010, p. 20-22

Person centred reviews which promote the participation of young people and their families are increasingly being used to plan transitions for pupils with special educational needs/learning difficulties. They are mainly used in special schools for 14-year-old pupils in Year 9 at the statutory annual review of their statement, which is supplemented by a transition plan to prepare them for leaving school at 19. The reviews meet statutory obligations laid on professionals, but are informal and aim to make the young person feel as comfortable as possible. This article presents a case study of the implementation of person centred reviews at Friars School and Sports College, Wellingborough, Northants.

Council leaders urge rethink on pupil premium

S. Shepherd and H. Mulholland

The Guardian, Feb. 7th 2011, p. 8

The pupil premium, aimed at giving schools extra money for every child they take from the poorest homes could backfire and fail to tackle the funding gap between deprived and rich parts of the country, council leaders have warned. The government is considering calculating the premium by it levelling out across the country, so that every local authority receives the same. However, council leaders argue that rather than levelling out the funds, more money should be directed to the poorest parts of the country.

Educating children on the autism spectrum: preconditions for inclusion and notions of 'best autism practice' in the early years

K. Guldberg

British Journal of Special Education, vol. 37, 2010, p. 168-174

This article draws together findings from expert evidence and empirical studies to identify the preconditions for developing inclusive learning environments for young children on the autism spectrum. It concludes that in order to develop 'best practice', practitioners need to adapt interventions to the unique needs of the individual child, work in partnership with parents and other professionals, create enabling environments and be informed by a developmental approach to learning. Practitioners need to have knowledge of the autism spectrum and how it impacts on the child. Careful assessment of the individual child is also crucial. Finally, it is important to ensure that these young children receive direct teaching in communication and language, social understanding and skills, as well as learning with and through peers.

Fingerprinting in schools to be curbed

T. Whitehead and A. Porter

Daily Telegraph, Feb. 10th 2011, p.2

Under proposals in the Protection of Freedoms Bill aimed at restoring civil liberties, schools would be banned from taking the fingerprints of pupils under 18 without parental consent. As many as one in seven schools uses fingerprint technology for a range of services such as registration, taking out library books, and running cashless canteens. The Bill also tears up the controversial vetting and barring scheme that would have targeted nine million adults who have occasional contact with children.

Guidelines for selecting alternatives to overreliance on paraprofessionals: field-testing in inclusion-oriented schools

M. Giangreco, S. Broer and J. Suter

Remedial and Special Education, vol. 32, 2011, p. 22-38

This 5-year multisite mixed-methods evaluation study chronicles the field-testing of the Guidelines for Selecting Alternatives to Overreliance on Paraprofessionals in 26 schools in six states. Evaluation of the utilization and outcomes of the guidelines was based on data from 472 study participants. Findings highlight (a) reasons why schools decided to utilize the process; (b) self-assessment ratings, selected priorities, and actions pursued by the schools; (c) consumer feedback; and (d) the impact of the guidelines process in the schools. Primary areas of impact included changes in special educator caseloads and paraprofessional utilization, extension of inclusive opportunities, and improvement in classroom collaboration and practices. Implications for schools and future research are discussed.

Northern Ireland's integrated schools enabling inclusion: a new interpretation?

L. Abbott

International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 14, 2010, p. 843-859

Following a long history of religiously segregated schooling in Northern Ireland, a contested society characterised by division and conflict, pioneering parents set up the first integrated school 28 years ago to educate together pupils from the two main cultural traditions. Integrated schools generate an ethos whereby opportunities are afforded to pupils and teachers alike to engage with, and take seriously, all forms of difference, rather than retreat into a culture of silence. Moreover, inclusive practices are firmly enshrined within the principles of such schools, supported by their anti-bias philosophy. This paper reports the views of head teachers and pupils in primary and post-primary integrated schools on the model of inclusion that, respectively, they espouse and experience. Through interviews, the heads spoke of embedding a culture of tolerance and respect for difference through teamwork and reflection, whilst recognising that there was still work to be done to develop further their interpretation of inclusion within an integrated environment. For their part, the pupils had clear perceptions of the ethos of integration, felt that they 'fitted in' at different levels, and could confront diversity in a 'safe' atmosphere.

One in six children will miss out on first choice secondary schools

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, Feb. 28th 2011, p. 10

A snapshot survey conducted by the Guardian in 12 local authorities in England found that 15.8% of children will be refused a place at their first choice secondary school. The survey also found that schools that were oversubscribed in 2010 were even more so in 2011.

Out of control - the academy criticised at Tory conference

J. Vasagar

The Guardian, Feb. 4th 2011, p. 15

St Michael and All Angels Academy in Southwark, South London, is to close after just 16 parents named it as their first choice in the latest admission round - a collapse in confidence which the school claims was exacerbated by the sweeping attack on a 'culture of excuses' by former teacher Katherine Birbalsingh at the 2010 Tory party conference.

Practicalities not prejudices: HE admissions and 14-19 diplomas

C. Jarvis

Research in Post-Compulsory Education, vol. 15, 2010, p. 441-454

This research explored progression to higher education (HE) courses from 14-19 diplomas in the West Yorkshire region of the UK. Sixteen HE tutors involved in admitting undergraduates across a range of institutions and subjects were interviewed. There was little evidence to support the fear that the courses would have less status than A levels because of their vocational associations. Where reservations existed they were more complex than this. Tutors working on courses relating to social care valued the diploma's emphasis on generic academic skills and work experience. Those delivering highly focused vocational courses or academic courses requiring prior subject-specific knowledge were more cautious. The main barriers to securing full commitment from tutors were the breadth of study options within the diplomas, which left tutors unclear about the knowledge and skills candidates would acquire, and tutors' limited understanding of the diplomas.

Preparing for the transfer from school and college science and mathematics education to UK STEM higher education: state of the Nation report

The Royal Society


The aim of this fourth and final 'state of the nation' report is to provide a unique insight into young people's pre-university participation in science and/or mathematics in order to determine the characteristics of the student pool available to undertake STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) first degree courses in the United Kingdom. Data from each of the UK nations regarding the combinations of science and/or mathematics subjects individuals took in post-16 school-leaving examinations (GCE and VCE A-levels and Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers) in the years 2004/05, 2006/07 and 2008/09 were analysed in detail. The results provide an insight into the size of the 'pool' of students within each UK nation that is (i) taking science and/or mathematics A-levels or equivalent mainstream combinations; and (ii) the major fraction of this pool that is qualified for entry into STEM first degree courses. Further analysis in terms of gender, institution type and attainment provides a more detailed picture of the changing post-16 science and mathematics qualifications landscape across the UK. An analysis of data at the level of individual nations is included as a supplementary section at the end of this report.

Primary headteachers: new leadership roles inside and outside the school

S. Robinson

Educational Management, Administration and Leadership, vol. 39, 2011, p. 63-83

This article considers some of the findings of research undertaken for a PhD into the changing educational agenda and its impact on the role of primary headteachers in England. During the course of the study from 2005-2009, as a result of government policy, new roles for headteachers both inside and outside their school increasingly emerged. The research discusses the perceptions of headteachers regarding the reasons for system change and considers their motivations for undertaking new roles. Findings include the range and type of new roles undertaken; the impact of performativity and ways in which the relationship some headteachers experience with inspection is symbiotic, together with how building capacity to sustain new roles impacts on leadership practice.

Reading, riting, religion, really?

P. Collins

The Times, Feb. 8th 2011, p. 4, 5

David Cameron says multiculturalism has failed. So what's he doing promoting faith schools? David Cameron outlined one of his policies in Munich on 5th February. He will 'take funding away from Muslim groups that do not commit unequivocally to the British way of life embodied in the rule of law, free association and the panoply of liberal freedoms.' In spite of his comments government policy is still to support faith schools.

Schools, governance and community: a next practice intervention

M. Sheard

Educational Management, Administration and Leadership, vol. 39, 2011, p. 84-104

The article analyses an innovative scheme for the re-organization of school governance that sought to enhance the voice of community members and contribute to the improvement of educational achievement. The scheme was located in the north of England, a region characterized by high levels of social disadvantage and low participation rates in higher education. The research adopted a case study methodology informed by observation, minutes of governors' meetings, training workshops, conferences, face-to-face interviews, online surveys and local authority (LA) documentation. The fieldwork was conducted in 2007-2008. The findings suggest that although aspects of community engagement are present they are inhibited by a number of factors operating at the strategic level in LA policy. This results in an aspirational model of school governance that reflects traditional practices in which the LA intervenes as the indispensable broker and external agent for innovation and change. In order to move away from the restrictions of this approach the LA needs to expand its strategies to involve members of the community in governance and develop mechanisms to devolve greater decision making power to the community.

Schools will be held to account for later success of their pupils

J. Vasagar

The Guardian, Feb. 18th 2011, p. 15

Schools will be held to account for the future careers of their pupils under government's proposals to publish information for each school about the proportion of pupils who go on to take up a university place or get a job after leaving.

Showdown looming over cuts in teacher training

A. Porter and G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Jan. 31st 2011, p. 1+2

In a move certain to trigger a new confrontation with public sector unions, the government is planning to reduce the numbers of students training to teach in secondary schools by more than 2000 from September 2011. Bursaries supporting students training to teach subjects such as history, geography, English and art will be abolished, but will be retained for subjects seen as vital to the economy, such as science, mathematics and foreign languages. However, no new teachers will get 'golden hellos' of 5,000 after a year in the job.

Student resistance to the surveillance curriculum

A. Hope

International Studies in Sociology of Education, vol. 20, 2010, p. 319-334

The growth of surveillance in UK schools in recent years has resulted in the development of what can be labelled as the surveillance curriculum. Operating through the overt and hidden curricula, contemporary surveillance practices and technologies not only engage students in a discourse of control, but also increasingly socialise them into a 'culture of observation' in which they learn to watch and be watched, accepting unremitting monitoring as a norm. This paper examines how the surveillance curriculum operates through observation, discourse and simulation, before drawing upon elements of Gary Marx's typology of resistance to consider student responses to new surveillance technologies, such as CCTV and Internet monitoring devices. It is concluded that although the surveillance curriculum seeks to control, it also provides a space within which students can forge their own identities through playful resistance, (re)configuring the 'algebra of surveillance'.

U-turn by Gove saves music teaching - for now

R. Garner

The Independent, Feb. 8th 2011, p. 20

A recent government review on music education in state schools described it as 'patchy'. Consequently, Michael Gove, the education secretary, has decided that the 82.5m ringfenced funding for music teaching will be retained for a further two years. This ringfencing represents a change in policy; it had previously been left to heads to decide how to spend their funds. The Government will publish a national plan for the future of music in education later this year. One of the issues that will be considered is whether means-testing should be introduced to decide who should pay for tuition. Currently, the initial period of tuition is free; subsequently, the cost is split between the government, parents and local authorities

Village working flat out for a free school

G. Hurst

The Times, Feb. 7th 2011, p. 17

'A tiny primary kept alive by volunteers is hoping to be the first to claim funding under Michael Gove's plans'. Priors Marston, Warwickshire has been financed largely from fundraising by villagers since 1996 after the local authority withdrew funding. Its trustees are now in a race against time to confirm its position as Britain's first free school. The Education secretary Michael Gove has agreed to state funding from September but if the trustees can organise contracts and staff etc. in time they may get funding after Easter.

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