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

£400M TO EASE SCHOOL CRISIS

N Watt

Guardian, Mar 19th 2001, p.1 & 2

The government is concentrating on health and education in the run up to the election and has announced £500m extra spending money. £400m is to go towards training and recruiting teaching assistants and a £100m fund will give every surgery in England and Wales an extra £10,000 if doctors sign up to a modernising contract to improve primary care. Article goes on to discuss the long term plans associated with this extra funding.

AGENCY AIMS TO PROMOTE SCHOOL LINKS WITH BUSINESS

J Kelly

Financial Times, Mar 20th 2001, p.6

Reports launch of a Business Development Unit within the Department for Education and Employment that will broker sponsorship links between big business and schools.

BLUNKETT ADMITS FAILURE ON TEACHER RECRUITMENT

S Cassidy and L Hodges

Independent, Apr 5th 2001, p.5

David Blunkett has admitted that the teacher shortages were a result of the government's failure to encourage sufficient recruitment earlier. The cash inducements to persuade people to train as teachers could not be given earlier because Labour was faced with the need to keep public spending down.

CHANGES TO A LEVELS PUSH UP CLASS SIZES

G Owen

Times, Mar 19th 2001, p.5

Reports on how the introduction of new style A levels has sharpened the divide between state and public schools in terms of class size. Research by the Secondary Heads' Association has also found that the new courses have led to a reduction in the amount of time for independent study which they fear will make it more difficult to prepare students for the techniques of study required at university.

(See also Daily Telegraph, Mar 19th 2001, p.2).

CHANGING CLASSROOMS THROUGH INSPECTION

C Chapman

School Leadership and Management, vol.21, 2001, p.59-73

Article reports findings from a preliminary study of the impact of Ofsted inspections on classroom change. Five comprehensive schools from a range of socio-economic backgrounds provided data using a multiple methodological approach. Findings suggest that school context and culture are important factors in determining teacher perceptions, responses and intentions to change classroom practice as a result of inspection.

THE CHANGING ROLES OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN EDUCATION

C Campbell

Local Government Studies, vol.26, no.4, 2000, p.85-106.

Article focuses on the changing roles of local government in education in Scotland and England and Wales. Explores the combined implications of the introduction of school-based management, involving the devolution of powers from local government to schools, and the reorganisation of local government, involving substantial structural reforms.

CITY ACADEMIES SET TO OPEN IN LONDON

J Kelly

Financial Times, Mar 22nd 2001, p.6

Announces that the first two new-style city academies will specialise in teaching business and enterprise and will be located in deprived areas of London. They will be publicly funded independent secondary schools where a fifth of capital costs are met by private sponsors.

COUNCIL TAKES EQUITY IN PFI SCHOOLS VENTURE

N Timmins

Financial Times, Apr 5th 2001, p.5

Article looks at moves by Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire to become the first local education authority to take an equity stake in a project to refurbish schools. Discusses how the contract and control is divided up.

DIFFERENT SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT

J Harris

Public Finance, Mar 23rd - 29th 2001, p.25

Gives the Westminster Council's viewpoint on the continuing row over the future of the Pimlico School building and the failed Private Finance Initiative.

EDUCATION ACTION ZONES: COMMENTARY ON THE FIRST SIX ZONE INSPECTIONS

Ofsted

2001

Report concludes that education action zones have failed as test beds for innovation and have added to the bureaucracy facing head teachers. Instead of bringing in new ideas, they have built on existing national and local initiatives. There has been a limited positive impact on primary schools in some zones, but no significant impact on secondaries.

(The individual reports can be found on the Ofsted web site

EDUCATION FOR INDUSTRY: A COMPLEX TECHNICISM

G Rikowski

Journal of Education and Work, vol.14, 2001, p.29-49.

Employers' statements of the knowledge and skills they require school leavers to possess are typically confused and contradictory. Paper formulates a "filter" enabling a better understanding of industry's educational needs. Use of the filter reveals that employers demands are impossible to meet because their expectations are unrealistically high and their needs inherently contradictory.

EDUCATION OUTCOMES AND VALUE ADDED ANALYSIS OF SPECIALIST SCHOOLS FOR THE YEAR 2000

D Jesson

London: Technology Colleges Trust, 2001

Analysis of examination results shows specialist schools out-performing comprehensives without the aid of selection by aptitude. Using data from two thirds of secondary schools, report shows only marginal differences between the intake of specialist schools and other comprehensives. A separate analysis of specialist schools with above average levels of free school meals shows that the success is not confined to affluent areas. The improvement at GCSE is twice the national average, with 40% of pupils achieving five good passes.

EXPEL AGGRESSIVE THREE-YEAR-OLDS, TEACHERS DEMAND

J O'Leary

Times, Apr. 12th 2001, p.16

Delegates at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers conference have called for children to be expelled from nursery school for disruptive behaviour under a zero tolerance policy. At present children below the statutory school age cannot be expelled, unless the reception class they attend is attached to a primary school.

FIRST PUPILS SENT HOME FOR LACK OF STAFF

H Studd

Times, Mar 20th 2001, p.4

Reports that due to industrial action over teacher shortages, 600 pupils at Holywells High School in Ipswich have been forced to adopt an emergency timetable for at least three weeks. It will cause their lessons to be cut from 40 hours a week to 34.

HAGUE VOWS TO REDUCE CONTROLS ON SCHOOLS

A Sparrow

Daily Telegraph, Mar 26th 2001, p.11

In a speech to the Secondary Heads Association, William Hague has pledged that, if elected Prime Minister, he would give schools freedom to manage their own budgets, employ their own staff, increase pay and commission school transport. He would also divert money spent on local education authority services directly into schools, giving them an extra £540 per pupil, and slim down the national curriculum. He promised to simplify the national curriculum and allow schools to suspend it entirely for slow learners.

(See also Times, Mar 26th 2001, p.4; Independent, Mar 26th 2001, p.8; Guardian, Mar 26th 2001, p.6).

HOME-SCHOOL AGREEMENTS: A TRUE PARTNERSHIP?

S Hood

School Leadership and Management, vol.21, 2001, p.7-17

All schools in England and Wales have been required to have a signed home-school agreement in place since September 1999. Paper describes and discusses the findings of a recent national research study which sought to evaluate the responses of teachers, governors, students and parents to the home-school agreement initiative and the progress of schools with its implementation. Study found little evidence to support the government's view that home-school agreements will provide a framework for improved partnership between parents and schools.

HSBC AWARDS SCHOOL 800,000 CONTRACT

J Kelly

Financial Times, Apr 17th 2001, p.4

The HSBC Education Trust has awarded Thomas Telford School a contract to develop an online mathematics course, partly aimed at helping to eliminate acute teacher shortages in maths at GCSE level.

LEARNING ONLINE TO GET PRIVATE SECTOR BOOST

J Kelly

Financial Times, Apr 3rd 2001, p.4

Reports two government initiatives intended to boost the use of IT in schools:

  • launch of a private-public partnership to revitalise the National Grid for Learning; and
  • production of digital course material for six GCSEs.

LIB DEMS HARDEN POLICY OF PENNY ON TAX FOR EDUCATION

C Adams

Financial Times, Mar 19th 2001, p.4

The Liberal Democrats have said that if they were in government adding a penny to the basic rate of income tax would provide extra spending money for education and would be necessary following Gordon Brown's cutting of taxes by £3.5bn in his Budget. They hope to show that they are serious about improving public services. Such a move would raise enough money to cut the average class size to 25, pay for the abolition of student tuition fees and provide more teachers, books and equipment.

MODULAR A-LEVELS: WHO ARE THE WINNERS AND LOSERS? A COMPARISON OF LOWER-SIXTH AND UPPER-SIXTH STUDENTS' PERFORMANCE IN LINEAR AND MODULAR A-LEVEL PHYSICS EXAMINATIONS

B McClune

Educational Research, vol.43, 2001, p.79-89

Study compares the performance of two groups of students, using data gathered from the examination scripts of lower-sixth and upper-sixth candidates in A-level physics. The candidates were assessed at different stages in their course, using the same exam questions. Pupils completing the second year of their course had higher attainment than those taking the examination during their first year of study. Similar differences in upper-sixth and lower-sixth pupils were observed in both boys and girls; however there is some evidence that boys are more likely than girls to take advantage of some features of modular exams.

MORE TEACHERS JOIN 'WORK-TO-RULE' PROTEST

S Cassidy

Independent, Mar 16th 2001, p.5

The areas now affected by teachers voting to take industrial action over staff shortages are Manchester, Reading, Kent, London, Doncaster, Portsmouth, Southampton, Middlesborough and Leicester. Teachers are protesting about staff shortages and the "cover to contract" action will see staff refusing to cover for absences or vacancies of more than three days.

(See also Daily Telegraph, Mar 16th 2001, p.14).

NEARLY ALL PUPILS FAIL VOCATIONAL A LEVELS

G Owen

Times, Mar 30th 2001, p.14

Survey shows that more than 75% of candidates failed the new vocational A levels in IT and Art and Design. The figure for Business and Leisure was as high as 90%. The low pass rates suggest that the standard has been set too high.

OFSTED INSPECTORS WILL BECOME MORE "TEACHER-FRIENDLY"

L Lightfoot

Daily Telegraph, Apr 12th 2001, p.12

Reports that the school inspection system is to be reformed to make it more teacher-friendly. Inspections will in future take more account of self-evaluation by schools and teachers and of attributes that are not easy to measure.

(See also Times, Apr 12th 2001, p.16).

PLAN TO SUBSIDISE PRIVATE EDUCATION FOR STATE PUPILS

J Kelly

Financial Times, Mar 20th 2001, p.6

Reports proposals by the Independent Schools Council to raise fees to subsidise places at private schools for state school entrants. The plan however relies on the government allowing state pupils to take their funding allocation of ca. £3,000 each with them into the private sector.

(See also Times, Mar 20th 2001, p.4).

PRIVATE FIRM SETS UP FEDERATION OF TECHNOLOGY SCHOOLS

J Judd

Independent, Mar 14th 2001, p.4

3E's Enterprise will take over up to 20 comprehensive schools to create Britain's first federation of schools united under a central management structure. It will hire and fire staff, set performance targets and award bonuses, acquiring the management roles traditionally undertaken by local authorities. The article goes on to discuss the pros and cons of the initiative.

(See also Times, Mar 14th 2001, p.4; Financial Times, Mar 14th 2001, p.4.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS SNUB NEW-STYLE A LEVELS

G Owen

Times, Apr 17th 2001, p.1

Reports that the new AS level examinations taken in four to five subjects in the first year sixth form are being ignored by independent schools. The new curriculum has driven up class sizes in state schools, and is putting pupils under strain leading to high drop out rates. Finally, research has shown that university admissions tutors are paying scant attention to AS-level results.

PRIVATE SECTOR "TURNS TIDE" IN ISLINGTON SCHOOLS

J Kelly

Financial Times, Mar 28th 2001, p.4

According to Ofsted, private sector management of education services in Islington has arrested their decline. Applications for secondary school places have risen, and standards in primary schools are showing signs of improvement.

(See also Guardian, Mar 30th 2001, p.8; Financial Times, Mar 30th 2001, p.4)

PROBLEMS WITH DIVISION AS SUMS DON'T ADD UP

R Watson and A Miles

Times, Mar 30th 2001, p.16

Presents an overview of the Labour governments education reforms, 1997-2001.

PUPILS SENT HOME AS ACTION GROWS

J O'Leary

Times, Mar 16th 2001, p.1

The first school to send children home because union members refused to cover for missing staff emphasised the industrial action being taken by teachers over staff shortages. The Department for Education has set up a "rapid response unit" to deal with such crises and a government spokesman has said no school should sent pupils home before consulting the department.

PUPILS TOLD TO STAY AT HOME AS TEACHERS' PROTEST HALTS LESSONS

S Cassidy

Independent, Mar 27th 2001, p.2

Reports impact of industrial action by teachers protesting over staff shortages on schools.

(See also Times, Mar 27th 2001, p.4).

RUMBLE IN THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE

W Woodward

Guardian, Apr 17th 2001, p.17

Reports that the General Teaching Council (GTC) which was intended to raise the status of the profession, has become embroiled in a row with the unions. They accuse the GTC of usurping their role as advocates for the profession and advisers to government.

SCOTS FEAR NEW EXAMS FIASCO

K Scott

Guardian, Mar 19th 2001, p.12

The Scottish Qualifications Authority has missed a deadline for sending information to schools; is behind in preparing exam papers; is short of 2,000 experienced marker; and tests of its computer have found a higher error rate than last year. The date for issuing exam results has been put back by a week to August 15 amid fears of a repeat of last years fiasco.

TEACHER BONUSES TO BE TOPPED UP

J Kelly

Financial Times, Mar 23rd 2001, p.3

Reports that head teachers are to be given and extra 250m over two years to "top up" the performance-related pay of their best staff.

(See also Times, Mar 23rd 2001, p.5; Guardian, Mar 23rd 2001, p.8).

TEACHERS' BONUS MONEY SCHEME A 'LOTTERY'

J O'Leary

Times, Mar 16th 2001, p.6

"Achievement bonuses" have been awarded to a third of state schools in England for their good results last summer as part of the second stage of the government performance-related scheme. The awards recognise good teaching and encourage further improvement. All 239 schools removed from the governments failure list in 1999/2000 will receive rewards. Head teachers have said the awards failed to recognise many good schools. Head teachers and governers decide how the money should be spent. Primary schools stand to receive £5,000 and a typical secondary school £25,000.

TEACHERS CLAIM PRIMARY SCHOOLS REPLY ON SUBSIDIES

J Kelly

Financial Times, Apr 11th 2001, p.10

Reports allegations by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers that primary schools rely on £100m in subsidies from commercial voucher schemes, parental contributions and teachers' own pockets. A further 500m worth of time was given by parents and volunteers who supervised classes, took school trips and coached sports.

(See also Times, Apr 11th 2001, p.4; Daily Telegraph, Apr 11th 2001, p.11; Guardian; Apr 11th 2001, p.10).

TEACHERS IN MORE CITIES JOIN PROTEST

W Woodward

Guardian, Mar 14th 2001, p.7

Industrial action by teachers over staff shortages is spreading to more cities. The National Association of schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (NAS/UWT) have said their members will refuse to cover for long-term absences and staff vacancies. This could result in shortened timetables and sending children home from school.

(See also Times, Mar 14th 2001, p.4).

TEACHERS THREATEN TO STEP UP ACTION ON SHORTAGES

R Smithers

Guardian, Mar 19th 2001, p.12

Industrial action by teachers over staff shortages is spreading around the country. Teachers are refusing to cover for unfilled positions or absences of more than three days. This action will result in hundreds of schools introducing shortened timetables or sending children home. Teachers who take part in the action have already been threatened with having up to £250 a day deducted from their pay.

TEACHERS THREATEN TO STRIKE OVER THUG PUPILS

L Lightfoot and D Millward

Daily Telegraph, Apr 17th 2001, p.9

The two largest teaching unions are joining forces to oppose the government's policy of inclusive education for violent and disruptive pupils. The NUT has called for the government to scrap its target for reducing expulsions, and for local education authorities' appeals panels to be replaced by panels of locally elected teachers.

(See also Times, Apr 17th 2001, p.4; Independent, Apr 17th 2001, p.4; Guardian, Apr 17th 2001, p.4).

TEACHERS WARN OF WORSE CLASS SHORTAGES

J O'Leary

Times, Apr 11th 2001, p.4

A survey of newly-qualified members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has shown that many expected to leave the profession within three years. Student teachers at the ATL's annual conference also said that large numbers of their colleagues were dropping out of courses before graduating.

(See also Guardian, Apr 11th 2001, p.10).

UNION CALLS OFF ITS ACTION OVER STAFF SHORTAGES

R Garner

Independent, Apr 10th 2001, p.10

Government has offered teaching unions wide-ranging talks about their workload and improvements in the recruitment and retention of teachers. In return the unions have signalled their willingness to suspend their current industrial action, which has led to hundreds of children being sent home from school. However all three main teaching unions plan to go ahead with a work-to-rule from September, unless the government sets up an independent enquiry into pay and conditions.

(See also Guardian, Apr 10th 2001, p.5; Daily Telegraph, Apr 10th 2001, p.2; Times, Apr 9th 2001, p.6; Financial Times, Apr 10th 2001, p.4).

WOODHEAD WARNS ON DISRUPTIVE CHILDREN

S Cassidy

Independent, Mar 14th 2001, p.13

Mr Woodhead has told a conference organised by the Centre for Policy Studies that integrating disruptive children into main stream schools is damaging the education of children who want to learn. He went on to say that the retention of special schools was needed as the presence of badly behaved children was having a serious impact on teachers' morale as well as on the education of other pupils. Teachers unions have criticised him for failing to distinguish between special needs children and a minority whose behaviour was unacceptable.