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Welfare Reform on the Web (May 2012): Education - UK - schools

337m spent on academies and free schools in less than two years

H. Mulholland

The Guardian, Apr. 11th 2012, p. 11

The National Union of Teachers accused the government of wasting money on 'vanity projects' after finding that 337m had been spent on the academies and free schools programme in less than two years. The NUT is strongly opposed to reforms that it says are leading to the privatisation of state education and putting national pay and conditions under threat. It said there was no evidence that academies and free schools would drive up standards, and that some free schools were being set up in areas close to existing high performing schools. The union's figures showed 337.2m had been spent in support of the government's policy on academies and free schools since the general election in May 2010, with the Department for Education spending 305.6m on the programme up to February 2012.

Academies form majority of state secondary education

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, Apr. 6th 2012, p. 5

The majority of England's state secondary schools were, or were about to become, academies, government data showed - a major milestone for one of the coalition's most controversial reforms. Figures published by the Department for Education (DfE) revealed 50.3% of the country's 3,261 state secondaries were academies - or had applied to be. This meant the majority of secondary schools would soon no longer be accountable to their local authority. Instead, they would report to central government. Academies were often funded by businesses or philanthropists as well as the state. They had greater freedom to change the timings of the school day, teachers' pay and conditions, and the subjects they taught, although they had to teach core elements of the national curriculum. The DfE figures showed primary schools were far more reluctant to adopt academy status. Just 5% of primaries were, or were about to become, academies.

Are we there yet? An examination of educational equity in the era of school reform and accountability

James P. Spillane (editor)

Education and Urban Society, vol. 44, 2012, p. 123-210

The articles included in this special issue of Education and Urban Society inform the theme that poses the question 'Are We There Yet?' An examination of educational equity in the era of school reform and accountability. The research by Harris, Diamond, and Finnigan raises important issues regarding the role that teacher expectations, teacher capacity, and principal leadership play in improving the quality of teaching and learning in urban, low-performing schools. The very rich accounts from teachers in urban school settings with low to average achievement illustrates that pedagogical practices have remained very much the same at the level of the classroom. As Diamond suggests (in this volume), content may have changed in classrooms but teacher practice has not necessarily evolved. Finnigan's work (in this volume) shows the important role principals have in teacher motivation to improve student learning.

Children's rights as routes to equality: the UNICEF award scheme

K. Hinton and B. Noble

Race Equality Teaching, vol. 30, 2012, p. 9-11

Contrary to what some adults believe, teaching children about their rights enables them to think not only about their own rights, but also how the rights of other children can be respected and met. Rights and equality are closely related, so the UNICEF rights respecting school programme has a real impact on the equality agenda and outcomes. This article focuses on a few key features of rights respecting schools and provides examples of what they look like and what people think about them.

Critics of faith schools launch test case

R. Garner

The Independent, Apr. 12th 2012, p. 13

The British Humanist Society and the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign called for a judicial review of the way Richmond Council decided to approve the founding of two faith schools (both Roman Catholic) without considering alternatives.

Developing black and minority ethnic leaders: the case for customized programmes

D. Ogunbawo

Educational Management, Administration & Leadership, vol. 40, 2012, p. 158-174

The provision of customized black and minority ethnic (BME) leadership courses and programmes is one of the measures being employed to address the under-representation of teachers and school leaders from minority ethnic backgrounds. This strategy has always attracted controversy as opinions have been divided about its value and benefits. Yet there is paucity of literature on the content and impact of customized BME leadership programmes. This paper examines the perceptions and reported experiences of participants in Equal Access to Promotion (EAP) and Investing in Diversity (IiD), two BME leadership development programmes, regarding the benefits of, and value added by, customized BME leadership development programmes. The paper also draws attention to current statistics on the positioning of BME teachers and school leaders within the school system in England and the perceived impact of customized BME programmes in addressing the barriers faced by BME teachers in their drive for development and progression.

Disability equality: definitions and meaning

R. Rieser

Race Equality Teaching, vol. 30, 2012, p. 22-26

This article examines the Equality Act 2010, arguing that there are some gains, but also some losses for disability equality. To use the law most effectively to promote disability equality in schools, advocates and professionals will need to spend some time absorbing new measures and definitions and developing implementation strategies to ensure that disability equality remains high on the agenda and that disabled children, students, staff and parents continue to benefit.

England's schools revolution: a progress report, two years on

J. Vasagard

The Guardian, Apr. 11th 2012, p. 10-11

The landscape of education in England is changing fast, and the pace of change has accelerated since the coalition came to power in 2010. From being a tool to turn around failing schools, the option of academy status has been extended to all schools. In April 2012 the Department for Education confirmed that more than half of England's secondary schools are, or are about to become, academies. Hundreds of primaries are facing conversion too (though so far only 5% of primary schools are, or are in the process of becoming, academies). The education secretary, Michael Gove, has also permitted parents, teachers and charities to set up 'free schools'.

Exam boards seminars: final report

Ofqual 2012

This highly critical report concludes that the system of seminars staged by examination boards to help teachers boost pupils' GCSE and A-level results pose unacceptable risks to the integrity of the system. It claims that some teachers attending the sessions expected to receive privileged information relating to certain GCSE and A-level qualifications. Consequently, all face-to-face teacher training sessions relating to specific qualifications will be banned from September 2013. From 2013 the only permitted events will be those staged to prepare teachers to set coursework tasks completed under staff supervision. Seminars relating to new qualifications will also be allowed.

Exclusions inquiry emphasises plight of the most vulnerable pupils

N. Puffett

Children and Young People Now, Mar. 20th-Apr. 2nd 2012, p. 8-9

Some children, especially those with special needs and Gypsy and Traveller children, are more likely to be permanently excluded from school than others. There is also concern about the extent to which head teachers are using illegal, unrecorded short term exclusions to allow children to cool off. The issue of school exclusions and alternative education is rising up the political agenda. This article explores the implications of one of the proposed reforms, making schools, rather than local authorities, responsible for commissioning alternative education services.

Fines for truancy to be increased and taken from child benefit

J. Vasagar

The Guardian, Apr. 16th 2012, p. 14

Headteachers should be able to impose increased fines on parents whose children miss school without a valid reason and the money should be docked automatically from child benefit if they fail to pay, a government adviser said. Proposals published by the government's expert adviser on behaviour, Charlie Taylor, would allow schools to impose fines of 60 for truancy, rising to 120 if they were not paid within 28 days. The money would be recovered automatically from child benefit if parents failed to pay within that time. Parents who did not receive child benefit and failed to pay fines would have the money recovered through county courts.

(See also The Guardian, Apr. 17th 2012, p. 9; The Independent, Apr. 16th 2012, p. 10)

Gove plays a long game on education

C. Ryan

Public Finance, Apr. 2012, p. 14-15

Education secretary Michael Gove has been successful in lifting academy numbers and launching his free schools programme. However, he now needs to resolve urgent questions on capacity, commissioning and the curriculum. On capacity, there are insufficient sponsors and existing successful academies to support failing schools which will be forced to convert. On commissioning, now that local authorities have lost their education capacity, central government is ill-equipped to address failure and plan new school places without local intelligence. On curriculum, many academy head teachers value their freedom to offer practical lessons to pupils who would otherwise disengage. Unfortunately this freedom is under threat from proposed curriculum reforms that could make academic subjects compulsory to age 16.

Gove urges church to extend role in schools

R. Winnett

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 17th 2012, p. 1

In remarks in the Commons on April 16th 2012, education minister Michael Gove urged the Church of England to extend its role in educating children. His comments have been interpreted as encouraging the Church to establish a new generation of academies.

Half of free schools opening this autumn have no premises

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, Apr. 13th 2012, p. 18

Half of the free schools opening in autumn 2012 were still negotiating over premises in April 2012, an education minister admitted. Despite many having made provisional offers of places for September 2012, only about 35 of the 70 schools had written confirmation from the land or lease owner that they could use their proposed building, and a few had yet to find a site. The information was divulged by Nick Gibb, the schools minister, in response to a parliamentary question by Stephen Twigg, the shadow education secretary. Gibb said 'around half' of the free schools due to open in autumn 2012 or shortly afterwards had a 'confirmed' site, while a 'large majority' of the rest were still negotiating contracts for their buildings.

Higher pay for academy heads

The Independent, Apr. 26th 2012, p. 18

The Department of Education revealed that average salary for a headteacher at an academy was 6,000 higher than that of a head at a local authority school. Heads of academies earned on average 61,500, whilst heads of local authority schools earned 55,500. Figures from the Department of Education also showed that the number of teachers employed in the state system had fallen by 10,000 for the first time in years.

'I balanced all, brought all to mind': lessons for schools from recent case law

R. Richardson

Race Equality Teaching, vol. 30, 2012, p. 27-29

This article outlines what 'I balanced all, brought all to mind' (or the duty to have due regard) entails for schools. It draws substantially on documents issued by the Department for Education and the TUC.

Illusionary inclusion - what went wrong with New Labour's landmark educational policy?

A. Hodkinson

British Journal of Special Education, vol. 39, 2012, p. 4-11

This article examines the emergence and evolution of New Labour's landmark educational policy, namely that of inclusion. The author, Alan Hodkinson, associate professor at the Centre for Cultural and Disability Studies at Liverpool Hope University, illuminates his conceptual difficulties in attempting to define what inclusion was and what inclusive education became during the latter part of the twentieth century and first decade of the twenty-first century. Throughout this article he endeavours to observe and define inclusive education in England through the employment of critical analysis of teacher discourse and examination of the vocabulary of inclusion. The article's conclusion is that, rather than creating a brave new world for equality and social justice, inclusive education here was rendered illusionary by the actors who colonised and striated inclusion's space upon a stage of competing policy initiatives and practicalities of educational settings.

Improving attendance at school

Charlie Taylor

London: DfE, 2012

In this independent review commissioned following the August 2011 riots, it is proposed that parents of truanting children should face higher fines deducted directly from child benefit payments. Under the proposals, the fine imposed on parents of children missing school without a valid reason would be increased from 50.00 to 60.00. If not paid within 28 days, the fine would be doubled and recovered from child benefit payments. Tougher rules should also be imposed to discourage parents from taking children on holiday during term.

Inclusive education, politics and policymaking

A. Liasidou

London: Continuum, 2012

The book provides a critical and up to date overview on how far we have come in educational policy and practice as regards to inclusive education, and suggests possible ways forward. The author brings together and critically analyses a wide range of theories and research in exploring inclusion in education. To make this text fully engaging for the reader, activities are presented which have been used on Education Studies courses to encourage students to reflect on their own experiences enabling them to position themselves within the theory and research in this field. These activities are transferable to primary, secondary, further and adult education contexts. The book serves as an ideal introduction to this contemporary issue and provokes critical review and engagement with study in this field for students of Education Studies BA and Education MA courses.

Lax middle-class parents are blamed for rise in pupils' wild behaviour

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 30th 2012, p. 10

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers claimed that a quarter of its members had been attacked by pupils in the previous 12 months. Half said behaviour, particularly low-level disruption, had worsened over the previous two years. Mary Bousted, the association's general secretary, blamed poor parenting, claiming that middle-class children were just as likely to misbehave as those from poor families.

(See also Daily Telegraph, Apr. 5th 2012, p. 8)

Millions paid out to teachers for classroom assaults and accidents

H. Mulholland

The Guardian, Apr. 6th 2012, p. 21

Assaults, accidents, injuries and discrimination in the workplace saw teachers collectively secure millions of pounds in compensation claims, according to figures released by three teaching unions to coincide with annual conferences over the Easter 2012 holidays. The NASUWT, one of the country's largest teaching unions, secured 12.6m for its members for claims overall - representing an increase of almost 20% on the previous year. A total of 964,268 was secured on behalf of 80 members during the year for claims related to assaults and stress-related illness.

Most free schools take fewer deprived pupils, figures show

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, Apr. 24th 2012, p. 9

At least three-quarters of the coalition's flagship free schools admitted a lower proportion of deprived pupils than was average for their wider neighbourhood, government data showed. Figures lodged in the House of Commons Library by the Department for Education revealed that 18 of the 24 free schools that opened in autumn 2011 had taken a lower proportion of children eligible for free school meals than was average for schools with pupils of the same age group across their local authority. To be entitled to a free school meal, a child's family income had to be below 16,000. Ministers had claimed that free schools would not disproportionately benefit better-off families and would empower working-class families. According to the data, at St Luke's, a primary school in the London Borough of Camden, the percentage of pupils registered as eligible for a free lunch was zero. The average proportion of children claiming the benefit in state primary schools across Camden was 38.8%.

School and system leadership: changing roles for primary headteachers

S. Robinson and D. Hopkins

London, Continuum, 2012

School leadership is undergoing significant change as headteachers respond to new opportunities and challenges offered to or imposed on them as a result of government policy. There have been increasing calls for transformational change to redesign the school system to provide a suitable workforce for the knowledge economy and to manage the anticipated shortage of future school leaders. Sue Robinson combines her professional experience as a practising primary headteacher and National Leader of Education with recent research into the impact of government policy on the roles of primary heads to offer an analysis of the shifting nature of school leadership. Headteachers have taken advantage of roles available including consultancy, leadership of academies and federations and children's centres.

Schools 'can't solve all Britain's social ills'

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 4th 2012, p. 4

Schools minister Nick Gibb said in a speech to the annual conference of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers that the first response to almost any social ill was to give schools a new duty to tackle it. Mr Gibb argued that such demands were reducing time available for teaching traditional subjects and claimed that he saw his role as being to resist such demands.

Singing from the same song sheet: policy consensus at a children's centre

R. Wilson

Race Equality Teaching, vol. 30, 2012, p. 6-8

This case study is based on an INSET day at a children's centre facilitated by the author, part of the work leading to a new equality policy at the centre. The INSET day comprised the morning spent looking at a general overview of equality legislation, changing terminology and the importance of challenging stereotypes and the afternoon looking at inclusive resources and how to use them, and a follow-up session focusing on how to challenge discrimination. The discussion was followed by a session in which groups were asked to suggest principles about how staff should be expected to behave in a professional context. The centre equality policy has now been in force for a year.

Teachers' leader warns: schools face autumn of discontent

R. Garner

The Independent, Apr. 6th 2012, p. 1

Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers, warned that schools faced strikes in the autumn over pay and conditions. Among the Union's grievances were increased pension contributions, pay curbs, the scrapping of national pay rates and longer hours. A spokesperson for the Department for Education said it was far too early to speak of strike action.

Teachers to strike in protest at Coalition 'dictatorship'

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 10th 2012, p. 10

The National Union of Teachers called for a wave of strikes and street demonstrations against plans for regional pay at its 2012 annual conference. The Union claimed that the reform would penalise teachers in poor areas where pay would be deliberately depressed. The conference also approved plans for a series of small-scale walk-outs at individual schools threatened with conversion to academies.

Turn our schools into academies and we'll strike

R. Garner

The Independent, Apr. 10th 2012, p. 4

Delegates at the National Union of Teachers' 2012 conference in Torquay had backed a motion calling on teachers in every school planning to become an academy to let it be known if they'd be prepared to go on strike. Delegates also asked their union to ask teachers in neighbouring districts to investigate the possibility of striking is support of their colleagues

Union warns of class-ridden school system

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, Apr. 5th 2012, p. 11

England's schools were increasingly divided along class lines, making it harder than ever for the poorest children to succeed, a union leader warned. Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said middle-class parents were keeping their children away from the most deprived schools, creating clusters of 'schools for the dispossessed'. This was having a toxic effect on the poorest children, who often needed to be with aspirational middle-class peers to flourish academically, Bousted told the ATL's 2012 annual conference in Manchester. 'We have schools for the elite, schools for the middle class and schools for the working class,' she said. 'Too few schools have mixed intakes where children can learn those intangible life skills of aspiration, effort and persistence from one another . the problem in the schools of the dispossessed is that they are peopled by children who lack resilience.'

What's so inclusive about an inclusion room? Staff perspectives on student participation, diversity and equality in an English secondary school

G. Gilmore

British Journal of Special Education, vol. 39, 2012, p. 39-48

This article by Gwen Gilmore, a lecturer in the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy at Massey University, draws on a research project which explored the nature, extent and characteristics of a disciplinary inclusion room (IR) in a secondary school in the south-west of England using a Cultural Historical Activity Theory framework. In five years to 2010 this school reduced fixed-term exclusion from a 10% rate to less than 0.01%. At the same time school attainment improved, with the percentage of students attaining grades A*-C in GCSEs increasing from 43% to 73%. The school under study was located within an Excellence in Cities and Behaviour Improvement Partnership initiative. The mixed methods used to inform this article include analysis of school documents, a staff on-line questionnaire and nine in-depth interviews. Staff views of the IR indicated a dynamic, interactive model and the potential for increased discourse around inclusion informed by joint problem solving in context. This research suggests that a disciplinary IR and associated systems can complement educational goals. The findings prompt a reconsideration of the role of discipline provision and give strength to inclusive, educationally based practice. This article, the literature and research are also informed by a matched Year 8 and 9 student questionnaire and interviews with nine students who attended the IR.

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