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Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2004): Education - UK - Schools

BLAIR'S SCHOOLS REVOLUTION HIT BY FAILURES

R. Garner

The Independent, January 5th 2004, p.1

Labour's impatience to deliver on its education reforms has led to a failure of major initiatives aimed at raising school standards. An analysis of the first six years of Tony Blair's "education, education, education" government by the newspaper concludes that attempts to improve standards have been hampered by an inability to think through some of the major reforms.

These include:

  • the introduction of sixth form reforms in 2000. They were rushed in without new A-Levels being tried out, resulting in nearly 2,000 pupils receiving the wrong grades;
  • a decision to set up a network of education action zones in the inner cities with businesses helping to run the schools. The scheme costs more than £220 million but had to be abandoned after there was little evidence of innovative work to improve standards;
  • last year's crisis over school funding which left hundreds of teachers redundant.

A CARING PROFESSION

P. Curtis

Guardian Education, January 6th 2004, p.6

In making sure pupils are happy, do schools forget about teachers? The article asks if an "emotional audit" can uncover how staff are really feeling.

CHALK, TALK AND ACTION

P. Revell

Public Finance, Jan. 16th-22nd 2004, p.24-25

The education workforce remodelling agreement implemented in 2003 is a key plank of the government's strategy for improving teacher retention by reducing their workloads. It has taken routine administration out of teachers' hands, and over the next two years will set limits on the time they are expected to cover for absent colleagues and give primary school staff time out of the classroom for lesson preparation. To achieve all this the government will allow unqualified classroom assistants to cover when the regular teacher is away and to teach small groups of children under supervision.

CLASSROOM ASSISTANTS 'ARE FAILING'

N. Pyke

The Guardian, January 16th 2004, p.10

An army of teaching assistants employed to ease the burden on primary schools is failing to raise classroom standards, according to research by a senior government advisor. The study questions the wisdom of placing assistants at the heart of the government's primary school strategy, arguing that they are no substitute for properly trained teachers.

COUNT US IN: THE ROLE OF SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES IN MEETING THE MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS OF YOUNG PEOPLE WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES

B. Carpenter and H. Morgan

British Journal of Special Education, Vol. 30, 2003, p.202-206

The article summarises the key findings of the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities' Committee of Inquiry into the mental health needs of young people with learning disabilities, with particular reference to the role of schools and colleges.

EXPERIENCES OF SPECIAL EDUCATION

D. Armstrong

London: RoutledgeFalmer, 2004

Discussion about educational provision for children with learning difficulties has largely ignored the voices of those for whom that provision is intended. This book argues that these 'insider perspectives' are of central importance for a fuller understanding of special education needs policy. The book is based on detailed case-study analysis of the experiences of over thirty adults who attended special schools/institutions between 1944 and the present. These stories contest official policy discourses and inform an understanding of the competing political and professional debates in this area, allowing the author to:

  • investigate the social and historical context of special educational needs policy;
  • challenge traditional notions of policy research;
  • explore alternative policy discourses informed by the voices of the 'excluded'.

HOW HEADTEACHERS COPE WITH LMS

D. Sexton

Journal of Finance and Management in Public Services, Vol. 3, No. 2, 2003, p.49-61

All schools are required to have devolved budgetary responsibility through the mechanism known as Local Management of Schools (LMS). The article examines how headteachers cope with the financial management requirements imposed by this and the influence of the type and size of school on the method of coping. Headteachers from 341 schools in Essex took part in a questionnaire survey, with seven also participating in a semi-structured interview. Results showed that schools employed a range of coping mechanisms, influenced by their size and type. Although most were getting by, just under half the headteachers questioned were absorbing the additional burden themselves and the isolation of the head was a running theme. The article concludes that further research into the concerns and ideas of headteachers regarding LMS is required.

IQEA AND SPECIAL SCHOOLS

J. Beresford, H. Stokes and J. Morris

British Journal of Special Education, Vol. 30, 2003, p.207-212

The Improving the Quality of Education for All (IQEA) Project has been running for ten years. During its lifetime, the academics associated with it have worked with over 200 schools in four continents. The article discusses the philosophy of the IQEA before focusing on the Nottinghamshire special schools project - the first to draw schools exclusively from the special education sector. It reviews the project and lists the benefits the schools have gained from their participation in the scheme.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: PERFORMANCE OF MAINTAINED SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN ENGLAND

National Audit Office

London, TSO, 2003 (House of Commons Papers, Session 2002/03; HC 1332)

Improving the academic achievement of secondary school pupils in England is a key government priority. The report examines the amount of difference secondary schools are making to the academic achievement of pupils once some important external influences on performance, such as socio-economic background, have been taken into account.

NOT EVERYTHING THAT MATTERS IS MEASURABLE AND NOT EVERYTHING THAT IS MEASURABLE MATTERS: HOW AND WHY LOCAL EDUCATION AUTHORITIES "FAIL"

I. Bache

Local Government Studies, Vol. 29, Winter 2003, p.76-94

When local education authorities (LEAs) first began to be inspected in 1997, a number were deemed to be failing. The article looks at the criteria applied to "failing" LEAs. Interviews were held with 26 people involved in education policy in the Yorkshire and Humberside region, raising a number of issues not adequately accounted for by the official inspection criteria, including socio-economic context, funding and political agendas. The article concludes that, as not everything influencing LEA effectiveness can be measured accurately, the official definition of LEAs as "failing" remains controversial.

ORGANISATIONAL COMPETENCE: THE STUDY OF A SCHOOL COUNCIL IN ACTION

R. Cotmore

Children and Society, vol. 18, 2004, p.53-65

Schools councils have been seen as valuable vehicles for promoting "citizenship" within schools and for facilitating the management of unruly behaviour through the involvement of pupils. Article presents the results of a qualitative study of the functioning of a school council in a small junior school.

PARTICIPATION IN TRANSITION REVIEW MEETINGS: A CASE STUDY OF YOUNG PEOPLE WITH LEARNING DIFFICULTIES LEAVING A SPECIAL SCHOOL.

S. Carnaby and others

British Journal of Special Education, Vol. 30, 2003, p.187-193

Leaving school is a critical period in the lives of young people with learning disabilities. The article explores how the move towards adulthood is managed by observing the transition review meetings of 15 young people with a range of learning disabilities. The research took place over a four-year period and had two phases. In each phase the time, place and duration of the meeting, participants involved, the structure of the meeting, the contribution of the student and their family and options for the future were assessed. Particular note was taken of the extent to which the student was included in (or excluded from) the meeting. The process was reviewed after phase one and various recommendations to improve the process made. The report concludes that significant energy and planning are needed to effectively support young people with disabilities during their transition to adult services.

PARTICIPATION OR PRACTICE INNOVATION: TENSIONS IN INTER-AGENCY WORKING TO ADDRESS DISCIPLINARY EXCLUSION FROM SCHOOL

J. Stead, G. Lloyd and A. Kendrick

Children and Society, vol.18, 2004, p.42-52

Paper explores the dilemmas and tensions between two models of school-based inter-agency meetings to prevent disciplinary exclusion from school. The first model is characterised by innovative practice developed through long-established professional relationships and addresses both individual and strategic issues in supporting young people at risk of expulsion. The second model emphasises the right of young people and their families to participate in school-based inter-agency meetings. This led to discussions that were individually based and were less likely address the ways in which the institutional processes of the school might contribute to a problem.

PRIMARY EXCLUSIONS: ARE THEY RISING?

S. Pavey and J. Visser

British Journal of Special Education, Vol. 30, 2003, p.180-186

Although reducing the number of pupils excluded from school has been part of government strategy in recent years, there is concern amongst some professionals that exclusions in primary schools are rising - prompting this study. Data on exclusions between 1994-2001 in a particular LEA were examined, along with the results of questionnaires sent to the headteachers of all mainstream primary schools in the area and follow-up interviews with sample heads. Results showed that it was almost impossible to show a pattern for exclusions, as there were inconsistencies in how excludable behaviour was defined and because schools used unofficial exclusions and labelled similar incidents of behaviour differently. Collection and analysis of data also needs to be standardised. Many headteachers stated that exclusion rarely benefits the child and is seen as a failure on the part of the school and thus the article concludes that resources would be better spent on investigating alternative strategies to exclusion

PROMOTION ? NO, THANKS

J. Crace

Guardian Education, January 20th 2004, p.2-3

Article notes that over the past 10 years, schools have found it increasingly difficult to recruit headteachers. Article asks why fewer teachers are willing to put themselves forward for headships.

PUBLIC EXPENDITURE: SCHOOLS FUNDING

Education and Skills Committee

London, TSO, 2003 (House of Commons Papers, session 2003/04; HC112)

The government introduced changes in the funding system for schools in 2003/04 in the belief that they would bring about improvements and backed the reform with a funding increase of £1.4bn. Unfortunately much of the increased funding was swallowed up by rising costs. The new allocation formula also meant that increases in financial support to local education authorities ranged from 2.6% to 12.6%. The result was an outcry from certain sections of the school community that they were suffering effective cuts to their budgets. The root of the problem appears to have been that the government implemented the reform without modelling its effects on individual schools. In order to remedy the situation, the government needs hard evidence on the extent of the problems with schools funding in 2003/04.

SCHOOL TO END LUNCHTIME FOR UNDER-11S

D. Chater

The Times, January 19th 2004, p.1

Primary schools across the country could abandon afternoon lessons if an experiment that takes advantage of children's greater alertness in the morning proves successful. In the first wholesale timetable switch since Tony Blair's call for an end to "one-size-fits-all" primary schools, several schools in East London intend to try out morning-only teaching from September 2004.

THEY HAVE TO BE SPECIAL

J. Morris

Community Care, Jan.8th - 14th 2004, p.36

Explores qualities sought by parents when choosing a residential special school for their disabled child. Parents considered it important that schools promoted choice and social inclusion as well as maximising educational potential.

USING A CATHOLIC MODEL: THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE CHANGING STRATEGIC PURPOSE OF ANGLICAN FAITH SCHOOLS AND THE CONTRASTING INTERPRETATIONS WITHIN LIBERALISM

H. Johnson

School Leadership and Management, vol.23, 2003, p.469-480

From a liberal perspective, church schools are viewed in two ways. Many liberal commentators regard them as socially divisive and as a residue of a traditional society that they wish to end. On the other hand, another liberal view sees them as the outcome of a valued multiculturalism. Article explores Anglican and Catholic faith schools as an English historical, educational and social phenomenon in the context of liberal toleration. Goes on to examine the impact of the dual nature of liberalism and the increasing influence of the Catholic model of a strong identity and openly declared values on the role of headteachers in Anglican schools.

USING VALUE-ADDED DATA FOR SCHOOL SELF-EVALUATION: A CASE STUDY OF PRACTICE IN INNER-CITY SCHOOLS

F. Demie

School Leadership and Management, vol.23, 2003, p.445-467

This local education authority case study considers how performance data is used effectively for school improvement in an inner-city area. Article discusses various approaches to feeding back research findings to schools, including use of contextual and value-added information. Gives examples of working with schools in the effective use of performance data to trigger improvement. Schools responded well to provision of data in the form of simple, accessible tables and charts. Some national publications and research reports are too complex for schools to understand and use.

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