The Independent, February 9th, p.6
Thousands of children from the age of 14 are to be offered apprenticeships, allowing them to leave the classroom and learn a trade. Ministers are to announce a new "junior apprenticeship" scheme next month under which 14 to 16-year olds can spend two days a week at work, one day at college and two days in school. They will learn on the job from skilled workers such as plumbers and joiners. The scheme is seen as part of an attempt to plug the skills gap in the United Kingdom which has left industry short of skilled workers. Ministers also believe it will help combat truancy.
Working Group on 14-19 Reform
Proposes introduction of a system of diplomas at four levels (entry, foundation, intermediate and advanced) to replace current GCSEs and A-levels. Pupils would be compelled to reach a required standard (likely to be the equivalent of GCSE grade C) in maths, communication and computing to pass the diploma at any level. There would be a new seven point grading system at A-level to introduce greater differentiation among candidates. Report also recommends axing most coursework to increase rigour. Candidates would be permitted to progress at their own speed, raising the prospect of mixed age classes and early university entry for some.
R. Smithers and S. Hall
The Guardian, February 13th 2004, p.11
The government is to spend £5.1bn by 2005 on an ambitious school rebuilding programme and plans to refurbish all secondary schools in England within 15 years. The programme will be financed by a mixture of public and private funds. A further £3.bn will be spent on capital programmes mainly benefiting schools.
(See also Financial Times, February 13th 2004, p.2)
The Guardian, February 4th 2004, p.6
Capita, the company blamed for the breakdown of the Criminal Records Bureau and the chaotic launch of London congestion charging, is now seeking to teach children to read and write. It is one of two companies left bidding for a little publicised £40m government contract aimed at helping ministers hit their targets for numeracy and literacy. Primary schools have yet to reach the levels promised for 2002. The winner will manage the National Primary and Key Stage 3 Strategies, which will involve hiring thousands of reading and maths consultants to advise schools and local authorities on how to help under-achieving pupils and how to raise test scores at ages 11 and 14.
Public Finance, Jan. 23rd-29th 2004, p.18-21
Points out that 47% of pupils failed to get five good GCSEs in 2003, and 13% failed to get five passes at any grade. Schools failing their pupils in this way are overwhelmingly those serving very deprived communities. Approaches to improving the situation include:
London: 2004 (HMI 1770)
Outlines a shorter, sharper inspection regime that places greater emphasis on self-evaluation by LEAs.
London: 2004 (HMI 2057)
Outlines plans to introduce shorter, sharper inspections focused on helping schools improve while reducing the burden of regulation, and ensuring that parents benefit from more timely and relevant school reports. Under the proposed new framework, schools would be inspected every three years, but the inspections themselves could be much shorter, and the notification period ahead of inspection would be cut. Increasing the frequency of inspection would mean that parents would benefit from more up-to-date information about schools.
N. Frederickson and others
International Journal of Inclusive Education, Vol. 8 2004, p.37-57
The article examines inclusion initiatives involving children with special educational needs. The views of children, parents and teachers from two local education authorities were obtained through interviews and focus groups. Results show that there are social and academic advantages to pupils being educated in mainstream schools but that there are organisational problems. The report concludes that effective communication systems are vital if the policy of inclusion is to be developed countrywide.
Post-14 Mathematics Inquiry, 2004
The report condemns government reforms of A-levels which have led to a 20% decline in pupils taking mathematics. GCSE maths is failing pupils of all abilities and should be reclassified as worth two GCSEs, as with English and science. There is also a chronic shortage of maths teachers, with more than 30% of lessons taught by teachers without a degree in the subject. Recruitment should be encouraged by paying maths teachers at least £5,000 more than their colleagues. Students should be encouraged to take maths degrees by having their fees and loans paid off by the state.
Guardian Education, February 10th 2004, p.2-3
As the final part of the government's programme for schools, its strategy for special needs, is unveiled, the author wonders if it will do enough.
Public Finance, Feb. 13th-19th 2004, p.20-23
Government is launching a major programme of investment in rebuilding England's crumbling secondary schools. The programme will be administered by a new quango called Partnerships for Schools (PFS). A local education authority will enter into a joint venture with PFS and a selected private sector partner to carry out work on all or some of their secondary schools.
R. Garner and S. Cassidy
The Independent, February 26th 2004, p.8
Parents will face spot fines if they are caught out shopping with their children or taking them out of school for a holiday in term without permission. Under the new measures parents could also be ordered to attend good parenting classes, with fines of up to £1,000 for failure to turn up.
The Times, February 16th 2004, p16
Attacks proposals from the Institute for Public Policy Research suggesting that children should be taught about a range of religious and non-religious beliefs at school. Argues that the proposals are about preaching the new state approved religions of multiculturalism and relativism.
The Daily Telegraph, February 5th 2004, p.1
Primary schools spend so much time teaching literacy and numeracy - the results of which determine their position in Government league tables - that they have failed to give pupils a rounded education, according to David Bell, the Head of Ofsted. Pointing to a widening gap in standards and quality between English and maths and most other subjects, he said: "We cannot afford a two-tier curriculum".
(See also The Independent, February 5th 2004, p.2; The Times, February 5th 2004, p.4; The Financial Times, February 5th 2004, p.4: The Times, February 5th 2004, p.4; The Guardian, February 5th 2004, p.6)
Department for Education and Skills
The paper seeks views on potential changes to be introduced in 2004/05 to how pupils' achievements in English and maths at Key Stage 1 (KS1) are reported to the DFES and to parents and transferred between schools. Proposals include:
European Journal of Special Needs Education, Vol. 19, 2004, p. 3-16
The article examines how schools can develop the relationship between home and school in ways that enhance rather than constrain pupil participation. Interviews were held with pupils, parents and staff in four schools, selected on the basis of their established commitment to developing partnership with parents. Pupils' ages ranged from 6 to 16 years. Results show that schools need to develop a coherent view of what active participation means for children and a vocabulary to communicate this, to parents as well as pupils and staff. They also illustrate the complex and evolving three-way partnership between parent, child and teacher that is central to the home-school relationship. The article concludes that although there are potential tensions between the principles of parent-teacher partnership and the promotion of children's participation, schools must develop their policies and practices in relation to both.
Department for Education and Skills
The strategy sets out the government's vision for enabling children with special needs to succeed. It proposes a programme of sustained action and review over a number of years to support early years settings, schools and local authorities in improving services for children with SEN in the key areas of early intervention, inclusive practice, partnership working and raised expectations. It builds on the proposals for integrating children's services in the Green Paper "Every Child Matters" and includes a strategy for improving childcare for families of children with SEN.
The International Journal of School Disaffection, Vol. 1, No. 2, 2004, p.17-24
The article gives an overview of the approach of the Labour government in meeting its ambitious target to reduce school exclusions by one third. It goes on to look at why these objectives have changed before setting out recommendations for the future.
Community Care, Feb.12th-18th 2004, p.36
Discusses the educational environment needed for children with Asperger's syndrome to flourish. Too few schools are able to meet their special needs.
The Daily Telegraph, February 23rd 2004, p.6
Government is to introduce random drug tests in schools in a drive to reduce substance misuse. Teaching unions fear the new measures could lead to parents of pupils subjected to tests suing schools, and could destroy trust between staff and pupils.
The Times, February 18th 2004, p.16
Argues that a series of government interventions in the school curriculum since the 1980s has been unproductive. Government should stop meddling and return control of the curriculum to schools, universities and employers.
London: Institute for Public Policy Research, 2004.
Calls for religious education to be renamed religious, philosophical and moral education and for different belief systems such as atheism, agnosticism and humanism to be taught.
Guardian Education, February 17th 2004, p. 6-7
Ahead of the report on 14-19 reform, Mike Tomlinson, chairman of the independent inquiry into A-levels, explains how his new diploma can shine as brightly as the A-level 'gold standard' once did.