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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2001): Education - UK - Schools

2,500 HEADS HAVE QUIT TEACHING IN PAST YEAR

B Russell

Independent, Jan 12th 2001, p.11.

Research has shown that:

  • 2500 head teachers left their jobs in 2000;
  • vacancies for head teachers reached their highest level on record with the exception of 1997;
  • there are long term difficulties in filling primary school headships;
  • recruitment problems are most acute in the South East.

(See also Guardian, Jan 12th 2001, p.6).

£600M PAY DEAL TO ATTRACT TEACHERS

J O’Leary

Times, Jan 18th 2001, p.1.

In order to counter the teacher shortage in South East England, it is predicted that the School Teachers’ Review Body will raise London allowances by 30%. Starting salaries for new teachers will rise by more than 5% to a basic level of £17,500, but across-the-board increases will be limited to 3.7%.

£10,000 DEAL FOR NEW TEACHERS

W Woodward

Guardian, Feb 12th 2001, p.2

Reports a raft of financial incentives to encourage graduates to take up teaching. Proposals include having the government write off the student loans of graduates teaching shortage subjects at 10% a year over ten years and offering three-month teacher training courses for undergraduates during summer holidays with £2,000 grants. Undergraduates could also do teacher training modules as part of their subject degree courses, without the extra money. On completing their first degrees, these graduates would then go straight into the classroom with top-up training. Options for giving financial help to final year students on B. Ed. courses are also being considered.

A-LEVEL REFORMS FORCE STUDENTS TO QUIT, CLAIM HEADS

J Judd

Independent, Jan 18 2001, p.12.

Head teachers report that pupils are struggling with the new A-levels which require them to study four subjects instead of three in their first year in the sixth form.

(See also Independent. Education Supplement, Jan 18th 2001, p.3).

ARE BRITONS TO BECOME THE DUNCES OF THE WESTERN WORLD?

D Johnson

Daily Telegraph, Feb 8th 2001, p.28.

Reports proposals by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to drop classic authors such as Chaucer, Shakespeare and Joyce from English literature GCSE.

(For withdrawal of proposals see Daily Telegraph, Feb 9th 2001, p.4).

BLAIR OFFERS NEW SCHOOL REVOLUTION

P Wintour

Guardian, Feb 9th 2001, p.1 + 12-13.

Reports speech by Tony Blair in which he promised that Labour, if re-elected, would give elite universities financial incentives to recruit more state school pupils and would double the number of specialist secondary schools in five years. He pledged that Labour would ensure that more than half of under 30-year-olds went to university by 2010 and would attack adult illiteracy. He also proposed £1,000 savings accounts for each new-born child. For every £1.00 parents placed in the account, the government would offer £2.

(See also Financial Times, Feb 9th 2001, p.2; Independent, Feb 9th 2001, p.4; Times, Feb 9th 2001, p.2).

BLAIR PLEDGES TO CUT CLASS SIZES IN PROBLEM SCHOOLS

P Wintour and K Smithers

Guardian, Feb 14th 2001, p.6.

Reports government pledges to:

  • reduce class sizes in problem secondary schools;
  • reduce the administrative burden of Ofsted inspections;
  • provide £80m to give small schools administrative support in handing inspections.

BLUNKETT BETS LONG ON SCHOOLS

J Kelly

Financial Times, Feb 6th 2001, p.4.

Assesses the effectiveness of the Labour government’s education reforms.

EARLY YEARS LEARNING

S J Blakemore

Early Education, no.33, 2001, Supplement. 4p.

Research suggests that children under the age of four or five may not have fully developed the cognitive and social skills that facilitate learning from formal instruction. Such research has led some to question the value of formal education at an early age and to suggest that a focus on social interaction, play and exploration might be more valuable.

EDUCATION ACTION ZONES: MEETING THE CHALLENGE: THE LESSONS IDENTIFIED FROM AUDITING THE FIRST 25 ZONES

National Audit Office.

London: TSO, 2001 (House of Commons papers. Session 2001/01; HC 130).

Sets out main findings arising from the National Audit Office’s examination of the financial statements produced by the first 25 Education Action Zones (EAZs). Points to poor financial management, failure to raise funding from local businesses, and lack of understanding of their role and responsibilities on the part of Forum members.

ENTERING THE LEARNING ZONE

N Merrick

Public Finance, Feb 2nd – 8th 2001, p.24-25.

Education Action Zones have failed to attract as much sponsorship funding from private business as expected. In spite of this they have fostered innovation, supported the professional development of teaching staff and encouraged co-operation between schools.

EVERY CHILD IS DIFFERENT, SO WHY SHOULD ALL SCHOOLS BE THE SAME

D Blunkett

Times, Feb 12th 2001, p.16.

Proposes raising standards in secondary education through the encouragement of specialist schools (including church schools), the improvement of teaching in the first three years of secondary school, and the provision of more choice for young people.

EXTRA £52M TO FUND TEACHERS’ PAY AWARDS

R Watson

Times, Jan 29th 2001, p.2.

Reports that the government is to allocate an extra £52m to local education authorities to help fund above-inflation teachers’ pay awards.

LEARNING THE HARD WAY

J Hardy

Guardian, Feb 14th 2001, p.23.

Argues for the retention of comprehensive schools offering a broad curriculum and maximum choice of subjects for pupils. Strongly criticises specialist schools, especially those which are faith based, for promoting social division and forcing children to specialise too early.

THE LEARNING ZONE

W Woodward

Guardian, Feb 2nd 2001, p.15.

The government’s education action zones failed to attract sufficient business sponsorship. They are being replaced by the Excellence in Cities initiative which is being piloted with £4m in government grants in seven areas. Business sponsorship is not a requirement. At the same time, private money is being encouraged into new individual city academies, rather than zones.

LEAs SHORT-CHANGED BY PAY RISE

H Jameson

Municipal Journal, Feb 9th – 15th 2001, p.4.

The Local Government Association claims that the generous increase in teachers’ pay awarded to reduce the current recruitment crisis is not fully funded and could leave councils with a shortfall of £200m.

LIES, LIES, LIES, MR BLUNKETT – SELECTION REALLY DOES MEAN SELECTION

R Hattersley

Times, Feb 15th 2001, p.20.

Attacks the government for reneging on their promise to end selection of pupils by schools by examination or interview. The rules for ballots to abolish grammar schools were weighted in favour of maintaining the status quo, and the specialist schools being promoted by the government will be able to select 10% of their pupils by aptitude.

LOW-COST HOMES MAY AID LONDON TEACHERS

J Kelly

Financial Times, Feb 1st 2001, p.7.

Describes the package of measures introduced by the government to improve teacher recruitment, including training salaries for graduates, better pay and access to low-cost housing.

NEW LABOUR ON EDUCATION: COULD DO BETTER

T Brighouse

Political Quarterly, vol.72, 2001, p.19-29.

New Labour’s first term in office saw the implementation of a transactional programme of education reform which responded to perceived public concerns. In any second term it will need to concentrate on:

  • improving teacher recruitment and retention;
  • reforming secondary school admission systems;
  • encouraging the specialist school movement;
  • curriculum reform.

OUR SCHOOLS CAN ONLY GET BETTER IF THEY ARE DISTINCT

T Blair

Times, Feb 14th 2001, p.22.

The government’s proposed reforms of secondary education aim:

  • to make all schools distinct schools, offering a good education in all subjects but also developing centres of
  • excellence; to encourage teachers through financial incentives and reduction of red tape.

PRETTY VACANT

W Woodward

Guardian, Jan 18th 2001, p.23.

Attributes current shortage of teachers to a reduction in teacher training places in the 1970s and unattractive pay and working conditions. The latter require substantial improvement to attract recruits into the profession.

PUPILS TO BE STEERED INTO VOCATIONAL PATH AT 14

W Woodward

Guardian, Jan 24th 2001, p.1 + 2.

Reports that Labour will, if re-elected, expand vocational GCSEs in an effort to address skills shortages. At 14, pupils will be given the option of choosing a vocational path that could lead to an apprenticeship at 16. The brightest pupils will be encouraged to take GCSEs at 15. Computer-based problem solving tests will be developed to stretch the brightest pupils at nine and 13, to prevent "coasting".

(See also Financial Times, Jan 24th 2001, p.4; Independent, Jan 24th 2001, p.9; Daily Telegraph, Jan 24th 2001, p.5; Times, Jan 25th 2001, p.8; Guardian, Jan 25th 2001, p.12).

SCHOOLS BUILDING ON SUCCESS

Department for Education and Employment

London: TSO, 2001 (House of Commons Papers. Session 2000/01; Cm 5050).

Proposes radical reform of secondary education, including:

  • more specialist schools (1,500 by 2006) with new subject specialisms in engineering, science and business;
  • more beacon schools to spread best practice and more city academics in disadvantaged areas;
  • extra support for religious schools, with government contributions for capital spending increasing from 85% to 90%;
  • companies and voluntary organisations to support failing schools;
  • vocational GCSEs to be available for those who want them;
  • bright students to take GCSEs early;
  • key stage 3 tests to be taken at age 13 instead of 14;
  • new teachers in shortage subjects to have their student loans written off;
  • new teacher training modules in degree courses to give undergraduates a taste of teaching.

SELECTION RETURNS TO HAUNT THE CLASSROOM

S Jenkins

Times, Feb 14th 2001, p.22.

Argues that the government’s policy of promoting specialist schools will lead to a return to grammar schools and selection by ability. Bright pupils will be creamed off into highly resourced specialist schools, leaving the rest to flounder.

STANDARDS AND QUALITY IN EDUCATION 1999/2000: ANNUAL REPORT OF THE CHIEF INSPECTOR OF SCHOOLS

London: TSO, 2001 (House of Commons papers. Session 2000/01; HC 102).

The considerable recent improvement in teaching quality and school standards is being put at risk by:

  • teacher shortages;
  • lack of books and equipment;
  • an inequitable funding system, with wide variations in how much schools receive per pupil.
Highlights weaknesses in:
  • the teaching of writing in primary schools;
  • motivation of children in the first three years of secondary school.

TEACHER RECRUITS TO GET 6% PAY BOOST

W Woodward

Guardian, Feb 2nd 2001, p.1+2.

To ease recruitment problems in schools, salaries of new entrants into teaching will rise by 6% from April 2001. Staff in London will also receive increases above the basic 3.7% rise announced by the Education Secretary. More than 150,000 classroom teachers at the top of their scale will receive pay rises of £2,000 backdated to September 2000, and most of the 200,000 teachers who applied for the threshold payments under the new performance-related pay scheme will receive them.

(See also Financial Times, Feb 2nd 2001, p.1).

TEACHERS WILL REFUSE TO PAY SUBS TO REGULATORY BODY, UNIONS PREDICT

W Woodward

Guardian, Feb 6th 2001, p.5.

Reports that teachers are rebelling against paying an annual subscription fee to the General Teaching Council, their new regulatory body.

VOTERS OF BRISTOL PICK SCHOOL CUTS OVER TAXES

C Milmo

Independent, Feb 15th 2001, p.7.

Voters in Bristol chose in a referendum to freeze tax rates despite warnings that this could lead to £4.5m of school spending cuts.

(See also Guardian, Feb 15th 2001, p.12).