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

2bn PFI scheme to rebuild 300 schools

J. Vasagar

The Guardian, July 20th 2011, p. 21

Up to 300 schools will be rebuilt under private finance schemes with an 'upfront cost' of around 2bn, Michael Gove has announced in the Commons. The first of the renovated schools is due to open in September 2014, the education secretary said in a statement acknowledging the 'deep disappointment' caused by his cancellation of Labour's school-building programme. Gove also said the government will cover the contractual liabilities of six councils following the cancellation of Building Schools for the Future. It will offer to pay the costs they have run up with private contractors, which run into millions of pounds.

Behaviour and discipline in schools: a guide for head teachers and school staff

Department for Education

2011

New government guidance allows teachers in English schools to use reasonable physical force to control unruly pupils. It explicitly bans 'no contact' policies and even says that head teachers should not automatically suspend staff accused of using excessive force on pupils. The changes come amid government claims that the balance of power in schools has swung too far in favour of pupils in recent years. Under the rules schools should: 1) consider calling in police to prosecute pupils who make false allegations against staff; 2) punish pupils for misbehaviour committed outside of school, including during evenings and weekends; 3) search pupils' clothing, bags and lockers for drugs, alcohol, weapons and stolen goods without consent; 4) consider forcing all pupils to undergo airport-style security screening as they enter school; and 5) require all parents to sign 'home-school agreements' and apply to the courts for 50.00 spot fines or parenting orders if children regularly misbehave or skip classes.

(For summary see Daily Telegraph, July 11th 2011, p. 1 + 2)

Councils' pupil premium allocations revealed

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, June 14th-27th 2011, p. 8-9

This article reports that official figures have been released showing how the pupil premium will be distributed to schools across England. There are concerns that schools will simply use the money to offset budget cuts. Schools will also need a 'critical mass' of pupil premium children to pull in enough money to make a real difference to the education of the disadvantaged.

Councils rethink educational psychology provision

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, June 14th-27th 2011, p. 12-13

Increasing numbers of councils could follow the example of Essex and Manchester and run their educational psychology services through arm's-length bodies. The Department for Education is reviewing training of educational psychologists, and expects more services to be commissioned by local authorities, clusters of schools and individual parents.

Cuts threaten expansion of baccalaureate, warn heads

G. Hurst

The Times, July 7th 2011, p. 22, 23

Funding cuts could mean that state schools could no longer afford to offer the International Baccalaureate.

Degree of success: university chances by individual school

Sutton Trust,

2011

This report accompanies the first publication of statistics on higher education destinations for individual schools with sixth forms and colleges in England. It reveals that just five schools send more students to Oxford and Cambridge universities than the 2000 worst performing schools put together. Third behind Eton and Westminster came Hills Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge.

Equity, ethnicity and the hidden dangers of 'contextual' measures of school performance

A. Bradburya

Race Ethnicity and Education, vol. 14, 2011, p. 277-291

Contextual value added' (CVA) scores have been used as a means of monitoring school performance in England since 2007. This article explains how these scores are calculated using biographical pupil data (including ethnicity, gender and Free School Meal status) in order to judge the impact of a school on pupils' attainment. This article argues that the use of ethnicity as a variable in setting expected levels of progress between two points of testing legitimises and reinforces differences in attainment by race, and that the growing importance of CVA in schools threatens to engender practices that systematically disadvantage pupils from certain ethnicities. This article uses data from government advice on CVA, calculations of CVA and local authorities' education websites to examine how the government's use of CVA as a monitoring mechanism has the potential to institutionalise low expectations of some minority ethnic pupils in schools. The discourses used in the presentation of CVA as a 'fairer' measure are also discussed, particularly in relation to the legitimising effect of a system which regards ethnicity and other biographical features as inevitable factors in determining individual pupils' levels of attainment. When compared to professed aims to reduce gaps in attainment by ethnicity, CVA reveals an incoherence at the heart of government policy on minority ethnic attainment.

Gove's GCSE targets will hurt gifted pupils, claims Tory MP

R. Garner

The Independent, July 6th, p. 22

Graham Stuart, Conservative chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Education, said yesterday that as a result of Michael Gove's target for schools to get 50 per cent of their pupils to achieve five A* to C grades at GCSE, schools will ignore gifted pupils and those with special needs.

Gove 'trapped in the 50s'

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, July 12th 2011, p. 10

Shadow education secretary Andy Burnham accused Michael Gove of being trapped in the 1950s for encouraging pupils to study traditional subjects such as modern and classical languages to achieve the English Baccalaureate, from which technology, arts and design are excluded. Burnham said the education secretary risks creating a two tier system where technical and practical subjects are regarded as second class. Burnham also outlined plans being drawn up by Labour under which schools would be judged by how far they stretch their least and most able pupils.

Marking of thousands of SATS questioned

Anon.

Daily Telegraph, July 19th 2011, p. 2

More than a third of heads surveyed by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) reported severe or outrageous problems with marking of the 2011 Standard Assessment Tests (SATS). In a survey of1,689 NAHT members, 93% reported problems with the marking of the writing test, 27% reported problems with the reading paper, and 11% warned of problems with the maths examination. The warning came as ministers confirmed that the SATS writing test is to be abandoned.

Schools cut subjects to fit with new Baccalaureate

R. Garner

The Independent, July 14th, p. 2

Richard Garner reports that, whilst implementing the Government's new English Baccalaureate, more than four out of 10 secondary schools have dropped subjects from the curriculum, such as drama, arts, religious education, and IT. Redundancies are likely to result from these changes

Teachers who fail to uphold British values face the sack

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, July 15th 2011, p. 8

New standards developed by the Department for Education focus on eight key areas of teaching, with one section on personal and professional conduct. They are intended to clearly set out the skills that all teachers should demonstrate, and to make it easier for heads to weed out ineffective staff. Teachers must set high expectations of pupils, demonstrate good subject knowledge, present well-structured lessons, manage behaviour and fulfil their wider responsibilities in school life. Beyond teaching, the new guidance states that staff must not undermine fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and religious tolerance.

Test results fall for poor pupils at worst schools

G. Hurst

The Times, July 11th 2011, p. 13

Research by the Education Endowment Fund set up to support improvement in England's weakest schools has shown that standards of reading, writing and maths by poor children in failing schools have worsened for the past 3 years. The analysis of results showed that poor white British children, who comprise 70% of pupils on free school meals in failing schools, tended to perform significantly worse than pupils from other ethnic groups.

Third of adults have no qualifications in worst education blackspots

Anon

Daily Telegraph, July 22nd 2011, p. 12

A study by the University and College Union based on an analysis of the proportions of working age adults without qualifications in 2010 has found that in some areas a third had no formal qualifications. In other areas the proportion was as low as two per cent. Overall, 11.3% of adults in Britain had no qualifications. The union warned that Britain was now divided into educational 'haves' and 'have nots' and that people with the lowest levels of qualifications were likely to suffer from government policies such as abolition of the Educational Maintenance Allowance.

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