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

A FOR ACHIEVEMENT (AND ASTONISHMENT) AS A-LEVEL PASSES REACH 96 PER CENT WITH A RECORD NUMBER OF A-GRADES

R. Garner

The Independent, August 19th 2004 p.1

A-levels results for 250,000 students show record pass rates for the 22nd year in succession - with the overall rate rising to 96 per cent, an increase of 0.6 of a percentage point on 2003. The number of A-grades also rose, and significantly, boys closed the gap on girls. Head teachers cited the introduction of single sex classes in mixed comprehensive schools as the reason for boys bucking the trend.

(See also The Times, August 19th 2004, p.1; The Guardian, August 19th 2004, p.1; The Daily Telegraph, August 19th 2004, p.1; Financial Times, August 19th 2004, p.4)

A-LEVELS HAVE BECOME EASIER, SCHOOL MINISTER ADMITS

J. Clare

The Daily Telegraph, August 18th 2004, p.1

More pupils are achieving higher grades at GCSE and A-level because exams have been made easier for those who do not perform well in conventional IQ tests, according to David Milliband, the Schools Minister.

(See also The Independent, August 18th 2004, p.1)

AREA-BASED APPROACHES TO EDUCATIONAL REGENERATION: THE CASE OF THE ENGLISH EDUCATION ACTION ZONES.

D.Halpin and others

Policy Studies, vol.25, 2004, p.75-85

Education Action Zones (EAZs) were introduced by the New Labour government in an attempt to raise educational attainment in disadvantaged areas. They were to be run by a small group of partners, including local authority, business and voluntary sector representatives. It was hoped that such partnerships would draw support from local and national charities and agencies involved in health and social care and that individual zones would link up with Health and Employment Zones. Research shows that these link ups did not take place and that the EAZs remained focused on purely educational solutions, marginalising and frustrating key players.

AUTONOMY AT A PRICE

A.U. Sale

Community Care, Aug. 19th-25th 2004, p.28-29

From 2006 every school in England will have a guaranteed three year budget geared to its pupil numbers. Schools will also have a guaranteed minimum "per pupil" increase each year. There are concerns that as schools become more autonomous and competitive, they will be less willing to admit vulnerable children.

BETTER RESULTS FOR 11-YEAR-OLDS BUT TARGETS MISSED

M. Green

Financial Times, August 25th 2004, p.4

The performance of 11-year-olds in reading, writing and maths has improved after four years of stalled progress. But the government is still missing its targets by a substantial margin.

(See also The Guardian, August 25th 2004, p.6)

CONFUSING CURRICULUM

N. Valios

Community Care, Aug. 19th-25th 2004, p .26-28

The government's education strategy published in July 2004 gives schools more autonomy but lays no duty on them to co-operate with other agencies in promoting children's well-being. This may undermine moves to promote seamless and joined-up children's services enshrined in the Children's Bill.

EQUITY, ECONOMICS AND EDUCATIONAL NEED: SOME TENSIONS BETWEEN CONSUMER AND PRODUCER INTERESTS IN THE MANAGEMENT OF SECONDARY SCHOOL ADMISSION PROCEDURES IN THANET, UK

P.J. Welsh

School Leadership and Management, vol.24, 2004, p.191-203

Paper reports on the findings of a qualitative study of the process of secondary school admission in the District of Thanet, Kent in September 2002. The education policy of the County Council has created a variety of secondary schools in Thanet. Parents are conceptualised as consumers able to choose a place at a particular secondary school by expressing a preference. However, schools can reject pupils who do not meet their admissions criteria. This results in disaffected and disadvantaged young people being channelled into unpopular schools, which then enter upon a spiral of decline.

MANAGING LSAS: AN EVALUATION OF THE USE OF LEARNING SUPPORT ASSISTANTS IN AN URBAN PRIMARY SCHOOL.

M. Mistry, N. Burton and M. Brundrett

School Leadership and Management, vol.24, 2004, p.125-137

The management and direction of learning support assistants (LSAs) does not always appear to be effective. Evidence collected from a small primary school in England shows that job descriptions can be inaccurate and management structures ambiguous. Lack of effective communication of their vision for the role by the senior management can lead to arbitrary management of LSAs by the teaching staff. The lack of a clear line management structure and ownership issues concerning the tasks performed are identified as key barriers to improving the situation.

THE MEANING OF SCHOOL

O. Booker

Community Care, Aug. 19th-25th 2004, p.34-36

The Education Act 2002 defines a school as "any arrangement for the full time teaching of just one child in public care, or with a statement of educational needs (SEN) or any five or more other children". Thus many residential children's homes and foster care organisations with educational programmes will be classed as schools and subject to DFES standards and Ofsted inspection. The article looks at the implications of these arrangements for local authorities, mainstream schools and providers of childcare with education.

MORE CHILDREN ARE TAKING GCSES EARLY

R. Garner

The Independent, August 23rd 2004, p.4

Thousands of pupils are taking their GCSE's up to two years early, this year's results will indicate. Some children as young as 10 will emerge with passes when 600,000 pupils receive their results on Thursday. The Government is trying to fast-track youngsters into taking their exams early in order to stretch the country's brightest pupils.

MORE THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS: INTER-PROFESSIONAL WORKING IN THE EDUCATION OF LOOKED AFTER CHILDREN

R.M. Harker and others

Children and Society, vol.18, 2004, p.179-193

Three local authorities are currently participating in a National Children's Bureau development project, Taking Care of Education. The project provides support through staffing (a dedicated lead officer) and financial resources to promote a whole authority approach to meeting the educational needs of children in care. Evaluation of the project seeks to describe the processes by which local authorities engage in inter-professional work and assess the effects of such activity on educational outcomes and experiences of looked after children. Inter-professional working is promoted by strong leadership, provision of adequate resources, the development of good working relationships between agencies, and the presence of structures such as cooperative agreements, coordinating bodies and multi-professional groups.

STORMING PARENTS, SCHOOLS AND COMMUNICATIVE INACTION

S. Ranson, J. Martin and C. Vincent

British Journal of Sociology of Education, vol.25, 2004, p.259-274

There has been concern about the growing incidence of aggressive parents, who enter a school inappropriately and abuse the teachers. Paper begins by developing a framework for analysing performative "speech acts" that can be applied to encounters between parents and schools. Argues that parental aggression was a reaction to events in school and that the underlying aim of parents in their communications was to seek mutual understanding. The school was able to respond sympathetically to some concerns, such as welfare, but was less amenable to negotiating agreements on issues it regarded as core professional practice, such as control of the learning and teaching process. However, parents from the more advantaged classes were better able to influence the school than parents with weaker social and cultural capital.

WHAT IS UNDERACHIEVEMENT AT SCHOOL?

S. Gorard and E. Smith

School Leadership and Management, vol.24, 2004, p.205-225

Based on an analysis of longitudinal datasets, authors argue that:

  • there is no reason to assume that educational achievement in the UK is worse than in comparable nations;
  • there is no reason to assume that standards have fallen over time;
  • there is no reason to assume that achievement differs between social groups as defined by ethnicity, social class, language or sex for otherwise equivalent students;
  • there is some evidence that achievement in state-funded schools is improving over time and that gaps in attainment between identifiable groups are declining;
  • there is no reason to assume that achievement in different parts of the UK or in different types of school is different for equivalent students.

They conclude that a great deal of public money is being wasted on policies to ameliorate non-existent gaps in attainment.

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