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Welfare Reform on the Web (October 2002): Education - UK - Schools

A-LEVEL PUPILS HEADING FOR 100% PASS RATE

D Charter and G Owen

The Times, Aug 15th 2002, p.1

A levels were yesterday branded "the exam you cannot fail" after the pass rate reached 94.3 per cent in the biggest yearly rise.

(See also The Times, August 10th 2002, p.1)

ASSESSMENT: WHAT'S IN IT FOR SCHOOLS?

P Weeden, J Winter and P Broadfoot

London: Routledge Falmer, 2002

This book looks at how assessment can help raise standards and considers whether self-assessment helps pupils learn. It also discusses whether current assessment practices can be improved.

BOSSES COMPLAINTS ON NUMERACY LEAD TO MATHS REVIEW

D Charter

Times, July 24th 2002, p.10

Complaints from universities and employers about numeracy levels have led government to launch a six month review of mathematics teaching in schools for post-14 pupils.

CHILDREN, LITERACY AND THE UK NATIONAL GRID FOR LEARNING

C Lankshear and M Knobel

Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, vol. 2, 2002, p.167-194

Article presents a critical assessment of the UK government's online learning resource, the National Grid for Learning, from the point of view of early childhood literacy. Argues that in its current form the Grid is liable to generate boredom among young children in terms of online literacy practices, and to foster mislearning of important new forms of literacy, such as email and interactivity. Furthermore, Grid activities and approaches dumb down literacy acquisition, and impede the development of personal responsibility for online actions. A major change in mindset will be necessary to reform the Grid in ways that are compatible with the official policy goals and aspirations behind its development.

THE CURRICULUM EXPERIENCES OF PRE-SCHOOL CHILDREN IN NORTHERN IRELAND: CLASSROOM PRACTICES IN TERMS OF CHILD-INITIATED PLAY AND ADULT-DIRECTED ACTIVITIES

S Guimarães and K McSherry

International Journal of Early Years Education, vol. 10, 2002, p.85-94

The aim of this study was to investigate the curriculum approaches used in pre-school centres across Northern Ireland in terms of the amount of adult-directed activities versus child-initiated activities. Observations in 71 pre-school settings showed that the curriculum offered in most reception classes was strongly based on an adult-directed approach, while most nursery schools, playgroups and day nurseries adopted a child-initiated approach.

DEVELOPING INCLUSIVE SCHOOLS: THE PIVOTAL ROLE OF TEACHING ASSISTANTS IN PROMOTING INCLUSION IN SPECIAL AND MAINSTREAM SCHOOLS IN NORTHERN IRELAND

A Moran and L Abbott

European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol. 17, 2002, p.161-173

Paper focuses on the vital role of teaching assistants in developing inclusive practices in both special and mainstream schools in Northern Ireland. Concludes that improvements are needed in teacher training to enable them to effectively manage their teaching assistants and to clarify their roles and responsibilities. Moreover, the teaching assistant's position with respect to qualifications, professional development, conditions of employment and career structure has not been satisfactorily resolved at national level.

EDUCATION ACTION ZONES, EMPOWERMENT AND PARENTS

D Simpson and M Cieslik

Educational Research, vol. 44, 2002, p.119-128

Paper explores parental participation in the governance of Education Action Zones. Results of empirical research show that EAZs have made little progress in involving parents as policymakers, particularly those who had previously been marginalised. EAZ decision-making has been dominated by professional interest groups. Parents are assumed to be lacking the intelligence, motivation and values necessary for participation in EAZ policymaking. Instead, they are regarded as being ripe for shaping and manipulation through parenting courses and the imposition by education professionals of an expert view.

EMERGENCY SCRAMBLE TO VET 25,000 SCHOOL STAFF

R Ford

The Times, Aug 23rd 2002, p.1

The Soham tragedy forced the Government to take emergency action yesterday to close loopholes in the vetting process designed to protect school children from child abusers. Estelle Morris, the Education Secretary, has reversed a three-month old policy that allows teachers to be temporarily employed without a full criminal records check.

EXAM RESULTS

S Cassidy and R Garner

Independent, Aug 15th 2002, p.8

Reports concern over a 20% fall in candidates taking A-level mathematics in 2002, which will lead eventually to a shortage of maths teachers. Argues that the rise in the A-level pass rate from 89.8% in 2001 to 94.3% in 2002 is due to pupils dropping their weakest subject and opting for an extra AS-level instead. There are also indications that the government's new vocational A-levels are proving harder to pass than traditional examinations. The overall pass rate in 2002 was 78.7% compared to 94.3% for academic A-levels.

(See also Guardian, Aug 15th 2002, p.10)

EXTENDED SCHOOLS: CHILDCARE AND SCHOOL GOVERNANCE

N Harris and P Tattelin

Horncastle: Children's Links, 2002

By virtue of the Education Bill, childcare is set to become an established part of the provision made in schools, although not necessarily all schools. Schools will have the necessary power and a broad range of options for delivery. The Bill also enables the Secretary of State for Education to provide financial assistance for this purpose. The potential boost to the government's National Childcare Strategy is enormous, if resource provision is adequate and suitably qualified staff can be recruited. Schools could, for example, play a key role in the development of childcare centres announced recently by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

FROM WASHINGTON HEIGHTS TO THE RAPLOCH: EVIDENCE, MEDIATION AND THE GENEALOGY OF POLICY

J Nixon, M Walker and S Baron

Social Policy and Society, vol. I, 2002, p.237-246

The idea of the New Community School was borrowed from the USA by the then Scottish Office on a slender evidential base. Article looks at how the idea was implemented in a deprived area in Stirling.

GIRLS ARE IN A CLASS OF THEIR OWN - AGAIN

J Clare

Daily Telegraph, Aug 15th 2002, p.12

Girls took nearly 45,000 more subjects at A-level and nearly 90,000 more at AS-level than boys in 2002. At A-level they achieved a higher proportion of A grades than boys in every subject except French, German and Spanish. At AS level, boys did better only in those subjects plus computing. It is argued that the present examination system which emphasises coursework favours girls.

GOVERNMENT HAILS LEAP IN A-LEVEL PASS RATE

J Kelly

Financial Times, Aug 15th 2002, p.2

The A-level pass rate rose from 89.8% in 2001 to 94.3% in 2002. Examiners believe that this occurred because pupils dropped their weakest subject after AS level and did not carry on to take the full A-level. Large numbers of students may also be accumulating points for university admission by taking more AS levels and avoiding the full A-levels altogether. The number of full A-level entries fell in 2002 by nearly 50,000.

(See also Independent, Aug 15th 2002, p.1: Guardian, Aug 15th 2002, p.1 + 3)

GRADUATES FLOCK TO TEACHER TRAINING AS INCENTIVES KICK IN

S Cassidy

Independent, Aug 8th 2002, p.9

A total of 47,070 people have applied to start postgraduate teacher training courses across the UK, compared with just under 40,000 a year ago. There have been strong rises in applications for shortage subjects such as maths and physics. These increases may be due to various financial incentives offered by government.

THE LEGISLATIVE RESPONSE TO INDISCIPLINE IN SCHOOLS IN ENGLAND AND WALES

N Harris

Education and the Law, vol. 15, no.1-2, 2002, p.57-76

This article looks at the law on school discipline in England and Wales. It examines the wave of legislative reforms introduced to tackle the problems and discusses the basic principles that seem to underlie the current legal framework.

MARKETS IN PUBLIC POLICY: THE CASE OF THE UNITED KINGDOM EDUCATION REFORM ACT 1988

S Gorard, C Taylor and J Fitz

International Studies in Sociology of Education, vol. 12, 2002, p.23-41

The Education Reform Act 1988 empowered parents to choose their children's schools. This study investigated the impact of school choice on the social class composition of schools. Results showed that the socioeconomic composition of schools is influenced by:

  • the pattern of local housing;
  • local school organisation, ie availability of alternatives such as faith-based or specialist schools;
  • admissions policies.

NEGOTIATING CONFLICTING VALUES: THE ROLE OF LAW IN EDUCATING FOR VALUES IN ENGLAND AND WALES

A Blair

Education and the Law, vol. 14, 2002, p.39-56

This article examines the role of the law in promoting and embedding values in the school curriculum in England and Wales.

NEW PAY RISE TARGETS FOR TEACHERS

R Smithers

The Guardian, Aug 2nd 2002, p.2

Extra "merit" pay rises for teachers in England will soon be linked to classroom performance. Progress up the pay scale will be linked to test results or pupils' behaviour for the first time. Teachers' leaders reacted by saying the proposals would do nothing to ease the current teacher shortage.

(See also The Daily Telegraph, Aug 2nd 2002, p.1; The Independent, Aug 2nd 2002, p.1; The Times, Aug 2nd 2002, p.2)

PARALLEL LEADERSHIP: A CLUE TO THE CONTENTS OF THE "BLACK BOX" OF SCHOOL REFORM

D Andrews and F Crowther

International Journal of Educational Management vol. 16, 2002, p.152-159

This article describes the concept of parallel leadership, which represents a relationship between teacher leaders and principals which is grounded in mutual trust. It looks at recent developments in leadership for successful school reform and reports on the findings of a five-year research project.

RECOGNISING THE VALUE OF TEACHING ASSISTANTS

Anon

Labour Research. vol. 91, Aug 2002, p.17-18

Government is expanding the role and numbers of classroom assistants in order to cut teachers' workloads. However, assistants are poorly paid and often on "term-time only" of temporary contracts.

RETHINKING SCHOOLS AND SCHOOL LEADERSHIP FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY: CHANGES AND CHALLENGES

B Davis

International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 16, 2002, p.196-200

This paper provides a basis for strategic discussion amongst school leaders as we move through the first decade of the new millennium. It identifies six changes and six challenges. The changes include the changing economic and societal contexts; the changing tracks of educational reform; the changing "educational business"; the changing tensions between autonomy and recentralisation; the changing impact of technology and the changing use and misuse of information. The challenges it identifies are those of:

  • leading with a moral purpose;
  • leading the reengineering processes;
  • leading the development of organisational core competencies;
  • leading strategic intent, not just strategic planning;
  • leading a success culture.

SOCIOCULTURAL ASSESSMENT IN EARLY YEARS EDUCATION: MYTH OR REALITY?

M Fleer

International Journal of Early Years Education, vol.10, 2002, p.105-120

Paper argues that while there have been developments in the use of socio-cultural theories to inform teaching and learning in early childhood education, assessment has not had the same level of conceptual change, resulting in a mismatch between theoretical perspectives informing teaching and learning and theoretical perspectives informing assessment. Approaches to teaching have moved towards a socio-cultural approach while assessment is still situation within a Piagetian framework.

STATUTORY ASSESSMENT AND STATEMENTS OF SEN: IN NEED OF REVIEW?

Audit Commission

Wetherby: Audit Commission Publications, 2002

Nearly 275,000 pupils in England and Wales have a statement of special educational needs (SEN). Statements are intended for children with higher levels of need and are based on a six-month statutory assessment. This is a costly and bureaucratic process which may add little value in helping to meet a child's needs. Monitoring of statement implementation is weak and there are shortfalls in the availability of health and social services for children with SEN. Statements are also leading to inequitable allocation of resources and may provide funding to schools in a way that fails to support early intervention and inclusive practice. However statements are valued by parents as giving formal recognition of their child's needs and also provide access to redress through an appeals process if needs are not met.

TEACHER SHORTAGE 'NOT TAKEN SERIOUSLY'

R Smithers

The Guardian, Aug 6th 2002, p.11

The government was yesterday accused of being complacent about teacher shortages, after figures showing the number of unqualified, trainee and foreign staff working in classrooms had rocketed since Labour was elected in 1997.

(See also the Time, Aug 6th 2002, p.2)

TEACHERS TO BE OFFERED THREE YEAR PAY DEAL

Independent, July 31st 2002, p.2

Predicts that the government will offer teachers a three year salary agreement designed to give them greater financial stability and to head off a clash with the unions.

(See also Times, July 31st 2002, p.1; Daily Telegraph, July 31st 2002, p.2; Guardian, July 31st 2002, p.1+2)

UNSPOKEN EXCLUSION: EXPERIENCES OF CONTINUED MARGINALISATION FROM EDUCATION AMONG "HARD TO REACH" GROUPS OF ADULTS AND CHILDREN IN THE UK

L Milbourne

British Journal of Sociology of Education, vol. 23, 2002, p.287-305

Discusses the barriers to access to services, including education, faced by non-English speaking and other culturally excluded groups such as refugees and asylum-seekers. Poor access arises from:

  • the language-barrier;
  • lack of information;
  • lack of cohesion in the services offered;
  • difficulties with transport and financial constraints.
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