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

175 schools fail to offer 'English Bacc'

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 1st 2011, p. 4

Official figures show that 175 state comprehensive schools failed to enter a single pupil for all the academic GCSEs needed to gain the government's new school leaving certificate. In fact less than a quarter of teenagers - 22% - took examinations in the five subjects needed to gain the award. Just one in six - 15.6% - went on to achieve the award, popularly known as the English Baccalaureate.

100,000 heads under fire

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 26th 2011, p. 1 + 12

Official figures show that 500 head teachers and deputies will receive between 100,000 and 110,000 in academic year 2010/2011. A further 200 will earn more than 110,000. The NASUWT teaching union has warned that public money is being abused and has called for individual head teachers' salaries to be published.

Anger at 21m spent on school consultants

R. Garner

The Independent, Apr.27th 2011, p. 18

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), has accused the Government of wasting millions of pounds on private education consultants; she also expressed her worry at the news that almost 100 civil servants had been seconded to work full-time on the free schools project. The Department for Education replied that the current Government had reduced the money spent on consultants.

A-level subjects to disappear as school budgets are cut by 20%

R. Garner

The Independent, Apr. 11th 2011, p. 17

The article reports that headteachers around the country are planning to cut the number of A-level courses offered by their schools and to increase class sizes, following the announced spending cuts. Unlike other areas, A-level teaching has not been ringfenced by the Government. The subjects most at risk are: French, German, Spanish, and Latin. Brian Lightman, general secretary of School and College Leaders, has warned that A-level teaching will be the worst hit part of the education service. Mr Lightman said that those schools opting to become academies could be protected in the first year, owing to the extra grant they would receive to compensate for the loss of services from the local authorities. However, they too would be hit in the ensuing years.

Church of England to reduce school places for Christians

R. Garner

The Independent, Apr. 22nd 2011, p. 16

The Right Reverend John Pritchard, chairman of the Church of England's Board of Education and Bishop of Oxford, will publish a document on admissions to CofE schools, later in the year. The document advocates a reversal on current admission policies, leading to only 10 per cent of places in church schools being reserved for pupils from Christian families.

Do comprehensive schools reduce social mobility?

V. Boliver and A. Swift

British Journal of Sociology, vol. 62, 2011, p. 89-103

This paper aims to assess the much promulgated view that the shift from a selective to a comprehensive school system in Britain had a damaging effect on social mobility. Using data from the National Child Development Study, the authors compare the chances, for both class and income mobility, of children born in 1958 who attended different kinds of school. Results show that the selective system as a whole yields no mobility advantage of any kind to children from any particular origins: any assistance to children from low-income families provided by grammar schools is cancelled out by the hindrance suffered by those who attended secondary modern schools. The findings suggest that comprehensive schools were as good for mobility as the selective schools they replaced.

Girl pupils in a class of their own for bad behaviour

G. Hurst

The Times, Apr. 18th 2011, p. 17

A survey of 859 teachers and support staff conducted by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) revealed that almost 44% had reported that problems such as aggressive or threatening behaviour among female pupils were getting worse.

Profit making free schools: unlocking the potential of England's proprietorial school sector

J. Croft

Adam Smith Institute, 2011

In this groundbreaking report, James Croft argues that the crisis of school places can only be met by giving true freedom to Free Schools and allowing profit-making schools to operate within the Free Schools programme. In his study of profit-making school outcomes, he shows that schools charging fees on a par with the average state expenditure per pupil equal or exceed the performance of average independent schools. As the report shows, unlocking the power of profit within the Free Schools programme would be a revolution in schooling in England.

Pupil numbers fall at independent schools

R. Garner

The Independent, Apr. 28th 2011, p. 19

Official figures show that the number of pupils attending independent schools has fallen by more than 5,000 in 2010/11. In the same period, there has been a sharp rise in the number of pupils from overseas. The Independent Schools Council (ISC), which produces the census, argues that in reality the decline has not been so sharp, as 26 fewer schools submitted census returns this year. The census shows a rise in popularity of boarding schools.

Race fears as white pupils fall behind

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 13th 2011, p. 10

The results of a study which looked at the relationship between tolerance and ethnic diversity in schools in England, Germany and Sweden have shown that an increase in the 'civic competence' of minority ethnic pupils led to a 20% drop in the tolerance of their white British peers. The more competent ethnic minority children were in terms of their civic knowledge, skills and values, the less tolerant their white classmates were.

Schoolboy's lessons for Gove as fears grow for school funding

J. Vasagar

The Guardian, Apr. 26th 2011, p. 10

A 15-year-old schoolboy became the first child ever to address the National Union of Teachers (NUT) conference on April 25th 2011 making an impassioned speech against the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). Meanwhile, a survey by the NUT and the University and College Union (UCU) of further education and sixth form colleges has found that 96% will have their budgets cut from 2011/12. Of these, more than nine out of 10 believed the cuts would have a negative impact on teaching and learning and almost three quarters (74%) reported possible teacher redundancies.

(See also The Independent, Apr. 26th 2011, p. 17)

Schools hit by last minute 155m budget cut

W. Mansell and J. Vasagar

The Guardian, Apr. 8th 2011, p. 6

Schools across England faced an unexpected budget cut of 155m in 2011/12 in a move that provoked fury among councils who feared it would disproportionately hit the poorest parts of the country. The cut was made to a fund that paid for pressing needs such as free school meals and extra tuition for pupils who needed help with literacy and numeracy.

Schools ranked on how poorer students perform

R. Garner

The Independent, Apr. 28th 2011, p. 18

In the future, schools are to be ranked on how well their poorer pupils perform. Plans being drawn by ministers mean that secondary schools in England will be compared on the performance of students on free school meals; their place in league tables will vary accordingly. The move is intended to improve performance and social mobility. From April 2011, schools were entitled to a 'pupil premium' for every disadvantaged child they recruited.

Teachers call on governors to justify pay of academies heads

G. Hurst

The Times, Apr. 26th 2011, p. 5

Motions passed by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) at their respective 2011 conferences called on local authorities and governors to do more to monitor and justify the salaries and benefits paid to head teachers of academies. Academy freedom has led to disproportionate pay rises for heads, with an increasing number receiving additional benefits.

Teachers reject education policy

R. Garner

The Independent, Apr. 25th 2011, p. 17

Delegates at the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers' 2011 conference in Glasgow passed a motion of no confidence in the Government's education policies. The general secretary of the NASUWT suggested Education Secretary Michael Gove should be sacked.

'Tired and hungry' pupils hit by recession

J. Vasagar

The Guardian, Apr. 15th 2011, p. 14

Nearly 80% of education staff say they have students at their school or college living in poverty, according to the survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). Four in ten staff at schools and colleges say poverty among their students has got worse since the recession began and some parents can no longer afford to give their children breakfast, according to a survey by a teaching union. Teachers also report cases of children wearing ill-fitting shoes, coming to school without underpants, and missing classes because they cannot afford bus fares.

Was it right to abandon the creative curriculum?

E. Blair and L. Francis

Practical Research for Education, vol. 44, 2011, p. 26-32

During the academic year 2009/10, the Labour government's plans for a new primary national curriculum led to some schools preparing for a new scheme that blended some of the foundation subjects into cross-curricular themed teaching and learning experiences. In June 2010 following the general election, the Coalition Government announced that it would not be proceeding with the new primary curriculum. This article debates the value of the new curriculum and reports on the benefits and issues encountered by a school in South East England which implemented it early.

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