Department for Education and Skills
London: TSO, 2002 (Cm 5342)
Proposes a new "fast track for high achievers" under which schools would encourage their brightest students to take AS levels as soon as possible without sitting GCSEs first. Advocates the introduction of vocational GCSEs and A-levels in subjects such as manufacturing and tourism, and a distinction award at A-level. There are also plans for a matriculation diploma at three levels for students at 19 to give employers a record of achievement. A certificate would be awarded to those who did not qualify for the diploma. The post-14 curriculum would be opened up with maths, English, IT and science being the only compulsory subjects. A language would no longer be compulsory.
J. O'Leary and D. Charter
Times, Jan. 24th 2002, p. 10
Reports that teachers in England and Wales have been awarded a pay rise of 3.5% and offered a faster route to performance-related increases. It is hoped that this package will help to stem the flow of teachers out of the profession. School governors will also be given scope to offer head teachers extra salary points to prevent them being poached by rival schools.
(See also Financial Times, Jan. 24th, 2002, p. 1; Guardian, Jan. 24th 2002, p.5; Independent, Jan. 24th, 2002, p.8; Daily Telegraph, Jan. 24th 2002, p. 15)
ELEVENTH REPORT 2002 [OF THE] SCHOOL TEACHERS' REVIEW BODY
London : TSO, 2002 (Cm 5353)
Recommends that the main pay scale for teachers be shortened so that new entrants reach the top in five years and are then eligible for performance pay. This should boost staff retention. Also recommends a general increase of 3.5% in teachers' pay from April 2002.
GOVERNMENT LOOKS SET TO TOUGHEN GUIDELINES ON SCHOOL EXCLUSIONS
Community Care, Jan. 31st-Feb. 6th 2002, p. 18-19
New government draft guidance reinforces head teachers' powers to expel violent and disruptive pupils, without right of appeal. Education specialists argue that expelling violent bullies merely displaces the problem and that they should be helped within the school.
Independent, Jan. 31st 2002, p. 9
A government decision to freeze a grant to local education authorities that covered the costs of extra English lessons for ethnic minority pupils is likely to lead to teacher redundancies.
Times, Feb. 14th 2002, p 6
Teacher unions claim that more than half of the funding for performance related pay has to be found from school budgets. Head teachers estimate that the scheme will cost schools £1 billion over the next six years, consuming money earmarked for books and equipment. Union members are to be asked to boycott the bonus scheme and to refuse to administer it.
(See also Guardian, Feb. 14th 2002, p. 10.
Financial Times, Feb. 15th 2002, p. 6
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is supporting an £8bn a year programme proposed by the Financial Services Authority to foster entrepreneurship in schools. Children could run school-based companies and take a cut of the profits. Every pupil would spend at least five days in their school career working with local business, and each school would form links with a local company.
(See also Guardian Feb. 15th 2002, p. 11)
S. Gorard and C. Taylor
British Journal of Sociology of Education, vol. 23, 2002, p. 5-18
Paper considers the possible impact of school choice on educational attainment in secondary schools in England and Wales. One of the main arguments made by advocates of school choice was that this would drive up standards. However, in spite of 12 years relevant experience in the UK, it remains very difficult to test this claim. Paper examines some practical difficulties before presenting three possible models for measuring changes in educational standards over time. Clearly more pupils are passing GCSE and A-level examinations than in 1988. Students from state schools are also reducing the achievement gap between themselves and pupils from fee-paying institutions. However, it is not clear that either of these developments is due to school choice.
Guardian, Feb. 19th 2002, p. 12
Reports that Warwick University has been chose as the base for the new National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth. The Academy will provide summer schools, online learning materials, and advice and information for parents and teachers.
(See also Financial Times, Feb. 19th 2002, p. 4)
Guardian, Feb. 15th 2002, p. 7
Reports that the high court has upheld a local authority's right to admit local children to a given school in preference to siblings of the school's existing pupils. This ruling could lead to a situation where siblings are forced to attend different schools, causing great family disruption.
(See also Daily Telegraph, Feb. 15th 2002, p. 6)
Public Finance, Feb. 8th-14th 2002, p. 20-23
Describes how private companies are renovating schools under private finance initiative (PFI) schemes and how local authorities are outsourcing their education services. The PFI schemes normally lock the education authority into a long term contract with the private partner for maintenance and facilities management work. Paying for these may make serious inroads into school revenue budgets and divert money from other priorities such as hiring more teachers to reduce class sizes.
London : Social Market Foundation, 2001
Proposes that affluent middle class parents should make a financial contribution to their child's secondary schooling if they earn at least £25,000 a year. Parents jointly earning over £60,000 would pay full fees. Argues that wealthy parents are already contributing directly to state schools to help buy textbooks and equipment, and even to pay teachers' wages. Argues that this is the only way of achieving the government's ambition of funding state schools as well as private schools.
Guardian, Jan. 31st 2002, p. 9
In a letter to Phil Willis, MP, the Chief Inspector of Schools revealed that 94.7% of lessons at key stage 3 were taught by an experienced teacher as opposed to 98% at sixth form level. The letter also revealed that 80% of information technology teachers and about half of all religious education, business studies and drama teachers did not have a post A-level qualification in their subject. Only in science and music were more than 90% qualified.
Times, Feb. 18th 2002, p.10
The Foreign Office has criticised government plans to allow children to opt out of learning a foreign language at the age of 14.
Independent, Jan. 28th 2002, p.9
Growing numbers of pupils are being taught at home as parents remove their children from school because of concern over increased testing and bullying. Both the Home Education Advisory Service and Education Otherwise, the leading charities in the field, report the growing number of parents contacting them because they no longer want their children in the classroom. Another group, Home Education UK, has put the number of children shunning school as high as 140,000, above 1.5% of the school population.
London : TSO, 2002 (House of Commons papers. Session 2001-02; HC 500)
Report praises the work of teachers in raising standards, with primary schools showing, significant improvements. However at secondary level inspectors found significant underachievement in seven schools in every 100 and a wide gap between the attainment of boys and girls. Behaviour in secondary schools has not improved and cases of teachers covering subjects in which they were not qualified were increasing. Moreover, 10,000 children of school age have been found to be missing from school rolls, whereabouts unknown.
Community Care, Feb. 14th - 20th 2002, p. 18-19
Discusses the case of Amy Gehring, a supply teacher who was prosecuted for having sex with underage boys. The case highlights the lack of adequate regulation of agencies and vetting of supply staff.
Independent, Jan. 31st 2002, p. 1
In a letter to the teachers' pay review body, the Secretary of State for Education has rejected union demands for a contractual limit on teachers' hours. However, she acknowledges that up to 20% of teachers' working time is spent on duties that could be covered by colleagues such as classroom assistants.
Times, Jan. 24th 2002, p. 18
Describes how the Scottish Qualifications Agency, the body responsible for setting and marking examinations in Scotland, recovered from administrative chaos in a year. The organisation was turned round thanks to an injection of funding, and the recruitment of a new board and top management team.