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

AS EXAMS ARE CUT BACK AFTER HEADS COMPLAIN

J. O'Leary

Times, Sept. 13th 2001, p.10

Reports that in an emergency package of changes to AS level exams announced by the Education and Skills Secretary, assessments will be streamlined, with total examining time cut to three hours. The papers will be concentrated into half-day session to minimise time-tabling clashes. Some 80% of subjects will switch to the new pattern of assessment in Summer 2002. Exceptions, where streamlined assessments will require major changes to the syllabus, include English language, business studies, science and maths. However, these subjects are expected to conform to the new arrangements by 2003.

(See also Guardian, Sept. 13th 2001, p.16)

BUILDING CAPACITY FOR SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT

A. Harris

School Leadership and Management, Vol.21, 2001, p.261-270

This paper focuses on the role of the Local Education Authority (LEA) in building capacity for school improvement. It examines a highly successful school improvement project and draws upon related empirical evidence to explore the LEA's role as an agent of change. The evidence from the project demonstrates that the success of the LEA in school improvement resides in the fact that LEA advisers have a close relationship with schools and offer encouragement and support as they embark upon and manage the process of change. However, government policy requires LEAs to set targets, monitor performance and intervene in schools that are failing. This suggests school improvement through surveillance, with LEAs having less regular engagement or involvement with schools.

CHALLENGING VIOLENCE IN SCHOOLS: AN ISSUE FOR MASCULINITIES

M. Mills

Buckingham: Open University Press, 2201

This book explores the relationship between violence and masculinity in schools. It examines extreme acts of violence such as school shootings seen in the US as well as the more common forms of schoolyard bullying. It focuses on how and why violence has been masculinized.

CLASS WAR IS BACK IN EDUCATION

F. Beckett

Guardian, Sept. 7th 2001, p.18

Argues that government plans to increase the number of specialist comprehensive schools will be socially divisive. Schools which are outside of the elite group will be starved of funds and children attending them will be stigmatised as failures.

CLASSROOM ASSISTANCE

M. Horne

London: Demos, 2001

Points out that with half of all teachers due to retire in the next ten years, and thousands more leaving the profession due to low morale, double the current numbers of recruits will be needed to fill vacancies. Research showed that poor pay and a never-ending barrage of centrally-imposed reforms over which they had no control were causing younger teachers to quit. Fear of OFSTED inspections was also causing stress and low morale. Report calls for an increase in the number of classroom assistants and recommends that school inspectors should spend 65 days a year on teaching practice to improve their knowledge of the classroom.

CURRICULUM CHIEF CALLS FOR REDUCTION IN EXAMS

G. Owen

Times, Aug. 20th 2001, p.4

David Hargreaves, the chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, has called for a reduction in the amount of time pupils spend taking public examinations. However, those papers that they do sit should become more rigorous.

(See also Independent, Aug. 20th 2001, p.8)

EARLIER BONUSES MAY HELP TO HALF TEACHER EXODUS

J. O'Leary

Times, Sept. 3rd 2001, p.7

Reports that the School Teachers' Review Body has been asked by government to consider whether performance bonuses could be offered to classroom teachers after five years service, instead of the present seven.

EXAMS HEAD BACKS CALLS TO HALT "OVER-TESTING" OF PUPILS

R. Garner

Independent, Sept. 17th 2001, p.14

The chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has made a speech supporting the contention that state school pupils are massively over-examined. He also warned schools against pushing pupils into taking too many GCSE exams.

GCSE BOYS CATCHING UP ON THE GRILS

J. O'Leary and G. Owen

Times, Aug. 23rd 2001, p.4

The 2001 GCSE results reveal:

  • an improvement in the performance of boys relative to girls;
  • a sharp rise in numbers taking computer studies;
  • a slight vise in numbers of students taking modern languages;
  • a sharp fall in numbers taking home economics;
  • continuing evidence of grade inflation; and
  • persistent underachievement in key subjects

(See also Guardian, Aug. 23rd 2001, p.3 + 9; Daily Telegraph, Aug. 23rd 2001, p.1; Independent, Aug. 23rd 2001, p.1 + 10)

GCSE GRADE "INFLATION" TAINTS RECORD PASS RATE

G. Owen and H. Studd

Times, Aug. 24th "001, p.1 + 2

One Jeffrey Robinson, a senior maths examiner, has claimed that the annual increases in GCSE pass rates have been manufactured in response to commercial pressures. He has alleged that the number of marks required to achieve each grade in his subject has been steadily reduced as examination boards compete for business from schools.

(See also Financial Times, Aug. 24th 2001, p.2; Independent, Aug. 24th 2001, p.1; Daily Telegraph, Aug. 24th 2001, p.1; Guardian, Aug. 24th 2001, p.10)

GETTING THE BEST OUT OF PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT IN YOUR SCHOOL

F. Hartle, K. Everall and C. Baker

London: Kogan Page, 2001

This book demonstrates how performance management can be turned to a school's advantage in improving teaching and school performance. It discusses techniques such as now to assist teachers in the self review process, maximise opportunities for staff to manage their own performance, understand the role of team leaders and address poor performance.

HIRE EDUCATION

M. Goldring

Guardian, Aug. 31st 2001, p.16

The government is seeking to solve the shortage of teachers in the UK by plundering developing countries of their few professionals and damaging their prospects of lifting their citizens out of poverty.

HOMEWORK, NOT PAPERWORK, IS WHAT TEACHERS KNOW BEST

C. Woodhead

Daily Telegraph, Aug. 30th 2001, p.22

Argues that the recruitment and retention crisis in teaching could be solved by a cut in centrally imposed initiatives and bureaucracy, and improved pay, especially in shortage subjects.

HOSTILITY GROWS TO BLAIR'S SCHOOLS STRATEGY

P. Webster and J. O'Leary

Times, Sept. 3rd 2001, p.1 + 2

A Mori poll for the Times has revealed strong opposition to government plans to expand the role of the private sector in delivering public services such as health and education. Nearly half of the electorate believe that health and education should be provided entirely by the public sector. Two thirds believe they should be provided completely or mostly by the State.

I COULD SET MY OWN A-LEVELS, BUT NO ONE WOULD DARE SIT THEM

T. Kealey

Daily Telegraph, Aug. 23rd 2001, p.24

Argues that government plans to widen access to higher education has led to grade inflation at A-level.

IMPROVING INSPECTION, IMPROVING SCHOOLS: CONSULTATION ON FUTURE ARRANGEMENTS FOR SCHOOL INSPECTION

Ofsted

London: 2001

Presents proposals for changing the school inspection regime which are designed to encourage fuller involvement of pupils and parents, sharpen the focus of inspections and reduce their overall burden on schools. Report seeks comments on three models for the future of school inspection:

  • retain the status quo of a mix of long and short inspections, with more of the latter over time;
  • a three tier system of short, extended and full visits; and
  • a flexible structure tailored to individual schools.

LABOUR CUT EDUCATION SPENDING TO FIVE YEAR LOW

H. Stewart, C. Denny and W. Woodward

Guardian, Sept. 4th 2001, p.1 + 2

By sticking to tough Conservative budget targets in its first two years in power after 1997, the Labour government reduced education spending as a share of GDP to 4.5%, a lower level than that under the Thatcher government, when it fell to 4.7%. However, state school pupils' test results have improved dramatically since 1997, showing that more money is not a guarantee of better schools.

LEADING PRIMARY SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT: WHAT WORKS, AND WHY

A. Smith and C. Sykes

Dereham: Peter Francis Publishers, 2001

Examing strategic development and planning in modern primary schools, this book looks at what works and why. It covers issues surrounding raising standards; innovation and change in primary schools; development of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) in primary schools; and improving development planning. It also looks at the role of the deputy headteacher in managing development.

LEADING STATE SCHOOLS WILL SET UP FRANCHISE OPERATIONS

J. Kelly

Financial Times, Sept. 5th , 2001, p.2

The white paper on the future of secondary education could lead to the rapid spread of chains of schools set up as franchise operations. The move would allow schools to spread their methodologies through access to training, manuals, software and support. Despite the move towards a private sector model, the government intends to," protect the key controlling role of governors in all state schools." Any money "surpluses" will be directed back into investment in education.

THE LEARNING COUNTRY: A PAVING DOCUMENT: A COMPREHENSIVE EDUCATION AND LIFELONG LEARNING PROGRAMME TO 2010 IN WALES

National Assembly for Wales 2001

In contrast to England , Wales will not introduce specialist comprehensive schools or permit private sector involvement in running state schools. Tests for seven-year-olds will also be abandoned.

LEARNING TO TRUST AND TRUSTING TO LEARN

E. Hartley-Brewer

London: Institute for Public Policy Research, 2001

The constant pressure on children to succeed in tests and examinations means that the most academically gifted feel accepted only if they achieve top grades, while those unable to keep up feel failures. As a result many young people lose self-confidence and have little sense of their own identity. In some cases this can lead to depression and mental health problems. The focus on results also stunts children's curiosity as teachers drill them in model answers rather than teaching them to think for themselves. Too much homework can also be problematic as it damages relationships with parents.

MANAGING TEACHER APPRAISAL AND PERFORMANCE: A COMPARATIVE APPROACH

D. Middlewood and C. Cardno

London: Routledge Falmer, 2001

Book looks at how various countries have approached the issues facing school managers about how to appraise their staff and the implications of this process. It includes studies from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Singapore and the USA. It covers issues such as school leadership, the professional development of teachers, and the implications for future teacher appraisal and performance.

MINISTERS DELAY TESTS FOR PUPILS AT NURSERY SCHOOLS

R. Garner

Independent, Sept. 7th 2001, p.11

Reports that the government is to abandon baseline tests for pupils aged 4 and 5 during their first few weeks at school. Teachers will instead be required to complete a profile of what every pupil can do at the end of their nursery school or reception year.

MODERN FOREIGN LANGUAGES IN THE PRIMARY SCHOOL: THE WHAT, WHY AND HOW OF EARLY MFL TEACHING

K. Sharpe

London: Kogan Page, 2001

Discusses why modern foreign languages (MFL) should be included in the primary curriculum, covering issues such as who should do the teaching and what should be taught. It looks at the contribution of MFL to education, teaching skills and approaches with young learners, and linguistic progression.

ONE IN FIVE NEW TEACHERS NOT SUITABLE FOR JOB

J. O'Leary

Times, Aug. 31st 2001, p.8

In a survey of more than 800 secondary schools, head teachers expressed reservations about 1,372 of the 7, 127 appointments they had made. Some schools had appointed unqualified teachers. Others had been forced to appoint staff to teach subjects that were not their speciality, or to take overseas teachers unfamiliar with the curriculum.

(See also Guardian, Aug. 31st 2001, p.6; Guardian, Aug. 30th 2001, p.4)

READ MY LIPS - SELECTION IS BACK

S. Pollard

Guardian, Sept. 5th 2001, p.15

Article discusses plans put forward in the government's schools white paper. Pre-publication leaks focused on the plans for increased private sector involvement in the running of state schools. Other points that have arisen are the relaxation of the national curriculum to allow less academic pupils to take vocational courses from 14 and extra bright children to take specialised courses before they are 16 as well as a near 50% increase in the number of specialist schools by 2003. The article goes on to discuss the politics surrounding the introduction of specialist schools and the function of private schools in the system.

REJECTING SCHOOLS: TOWARDS A FULLER UNDERSTANDING OF THE PROCESS OF PARENTAL CHOICE

C. Bagley, P.A. Woods and R. Glatter

School Leadership and Management, vol.21, 2001, p.309-325

Paper focuses on the issue of why certain schools are rejected as opposed to selected by parents. Reasons given by parents for rejecting a particular school include transport/distance, ethnic composition, unacceptable appearance and behaviour of existing pupils, the school's reputation, the school's physical environment, and its failure to balance academic prowess with a caring environment.

SCHOOL OFFERS £500 TO STUDENTS

G. Owen

Times, Sept. 20th 2001, p.16

Tomlinscote School in Frimley, Surrey is using profits made by its vending machines to pay the top 20 GCSE students who stay on in its sixth form cash grants of £500 each.

SCHOOLS: ACHIEVING SUCCESS

Department for Education and Skills

London: TSO, 2001 (Cm 5230)

Proposes that commercial firms, voluntary organisations and religious groups should have the right to bid to take over failing schools or run any new schools or run any new school planned by a local education authority. The target for creating at least 1500 specialist schools is brought forward from 2006 to 2005. The range of specialisms is to be extended to include maths, computing, science, engineering and business. Best performing state schools will be given greater autonomy, and good teachers in them will be encouraged to agree new contracts that could allow them to work in two or three different institutions. There will be more emphasis on vocational education and schools will be encouraged to enter bright children for examinations early. School regulations are to be relaxed to allow heads to open all hours, so that the can offer evening classes for adults and crèches for children.

A SECOND TERM TO PUT SECONDARY SCHOOLS FIRST

T. Blair

Times, Sept. 5th 2001, p.14

Discusses the schools white paper and the issues of how to reshape public services with investment and reform. A 'Far-reaching change is required in secondary education to raise standards'. The white paper lays out plans for how schools can diversify and gain the freedom to innovate and adapt to meet the needs of pupils. It proposes the promotion of specialist schools, beacon schools, city academies and faith schools. The article raises other issues covered in the white paper such as the need for better rewards and incentives for teachers, more flexible staffing, and support arrangements to facilitate these changes.

SKILFUL CHOICES

C. Ryan

Public Finance, Aug. 24th - Sept. 6th 2001, p.24-25

Argues that the government's push for higher standards in schools depends on four linked initiatives. These are:

  • the Excellence in Cities programme;
  • the expansion of specialist and beacon schools;
  • the introduction of compulsory literacy and numeracy hours into secondary schools for pupils aged 11-14; and
  • the introduction of vocational GCSEs

SO GIRLS ARE GETTING THE BETTER GRADES IN EXAMS. WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?

F. Childs

Independent Review. Aug. 23rd 2001, p.4

Discusses why girls are outperforming boys at GCSE and A-level. Attributes this to the fact that:

  • girls are more ambitious than they used to be;
  • modern examinations emphasize coursework and continuous assessment, which favours girls; and
  • men are no longer expected to be breadwinners, and so are under less pressure to succeed.

SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS AND DISABILITY ACT: DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION IN EDUCATION

H. Rimington

Child Right, no. 178, 2001, p.14-15

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA) aims to introduce individual rights for children with disabilities in school and provide a mechanism for enforcement. In particular, the Act extends the role of the Special Educational Needs Tribunal to decide on certain limited claims relating to disability discrimination within schools.

TEACHER KNOWS BEST

M. Horne

Guardian, Sept. 4th 2001, p.15

Argues that, in order to solve the present recruitment and retention crisis in teaching, government needs to show greater respect for the professional autonomy of teachers, and allow them to manage change from within schools.

TEACHER SHORTAGES BLAMED ON "UNCARING" MINISTERS

R. Sylvester

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 4th 2001, p.2

The chief executive of the General Teaching Council (GTC) has blamed the exodus of teachers from the profession on too much paperwork, excessive central control, and the pace of government imposed change.

TEACHER SHORTAGES WORST EVER

W. Woodward

Guardian, Aug. 28th 2001, p.1

The Chief Inspector of Schools has warned that current teacher shortages are the worst for 30 years. He is concerned that 40% of newly qualified teachers leave the profession within three years, that there is a growing shortage of supply teachers to cover gaps, and that teachers are increasingly teaching subjects for which they are not qualified.

(See also Independent, Aug. 28th 2001, p. 2; Financial Time's, Aug. 29th 2001, p.2; Daily Telegraph, Aug. 29th 2001, p.2)

THOUSANDS OF TEACHERS REJECTED BY SCHOOLS

B. Russell

Independent, Sept. 17th 2001, p.15

Thousands of teachers are out of work and seeking jobs in spite of the severe recruitment crisis in schools. There is evidence that many middle aged recruits are failing to get jobs after training as teachers in a career change.

TICKING TIMEBOMB THAT EXPLODED IN LABOUR'S HANDS

R. Smithers

Guardian, Aug. 29th 2001, p.4

Argues that the present shortage of teachers in schools is due to:

  • poor pay and conditions;
  • low professional morale; and
  • lack of investment in recruitment and retention

The evidence suggests that disaffected young teachers are leaving within four or five years of qualifying, blaming overwork, red tape and badly behaved children.

TIME-OFF DEMANDS MAY PUT PUPILS ON FOUR-DAY WEEK

L. Lightfoot

Daily Telegraph, Aug. 22nd 2001, p.8

Some schools may have to put pupils on a four-day week next month as teachers demand time off in lieu for covering unfilled posts under the terms of a deal negotiated at the end of the Summer term 2001. A telephone and internet hotline has been set up by the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers to help members claim the hours.

(See also Times, Aug. 22nd 2001, p.8)

UNLOCKING FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT: PRACTICAL STRATEGIES FOR ENHANCING PUPIL'S LEARNING IN THE PRIMARY CLASSROOM

S. Clarke

London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2001

This is the follow up to 'Targeting Assessment in the Primary Classroom' (Clarke, 1998). It looks at how formative assessment can be developed as "an integrated element of classroom practice". The author sets the ideas covered in the first book such as planning, sharing learning intentions, pupil self-education, feedback and target setting in the context of literacy, numeracy and curriculum 2000. The back introduces new teaching methods along with research findings and examples of classroom practice.

WELSH ASSEMBLY REJECTS BLAIR'S BLUEPRINT FOR EDUCATION SHAKE-UP

R. Garner

Independent, Sept.5th 2001, p.4

Article discusses the main features of the British Schools White Paper, a key proposal of which is the introduction of legislation to allow "more private sector involvement in the running of state schools". However, the Welsh Education White Paper reserves the right to ignore these powers. The Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning in Wales has said, "we shall take our policy direction where necessary to get the best for Wales.."

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