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

14-19 CURRICULUM AND QUALIFICATIONS REFORM: FINAL REPORT OF THE WORKING GROUP ON 14-19 REFORM

London: TSO, 2004

Mike Tomlinson, former Chief Inspector of Schools, now chair of the Working Group on 14-19 reform, has delivered his recommendations to the Government on the reform of 14-19 education, the biggest overhaul of schools for more than 50 years. Tomlinson's proposed system involves a broader range of learning recorded on a new-look 'personal transcript' held online:

  • secondary school pupils would take fewer exams. GCSEs and A-levels would become part of a four-stage, graded diploma;
  • from age 14 onward, every pupil would study the core skills of 'functional' maths, English and IT, and would only receive a diploma if mastery of these skills had been proved;
  • core skills and advanced qualifications would be externally examined;
  • vocational training would be offered to all children if they want it;
  • more able children would have the option of taking bonus questions to earn an A+ or A++ grades at A level;
  • every pupil's achievements, including work experience, community involvement, sport and arts, would be recorded in detail in an online 'transcript'. Universities and employers would be able to use this to select students and employees;
  • schools would be held to account and measured on the on the proportion of children achieving a pass, merit or distinction diploma, and the numbers demonstrating the required literacy, numeracy and IT skills.

ALL SHALL HAVE PRIZES

T. Collins

Public Finance, July 16th-22nd 2004, p.30-31

The article compares Labour and Conservative policies on schools. The Labour Party is committed to creating a wide variety of school types to give parents greater choice. The Conservatives are proposing a voucher scheme. Parents would be given vouchers that they could spend at either a state school of their choice or an independent school.

BARS TO STUDY

A.U. Sale

Community Care, Sept.30th-Oct.6th 2004, p.32

Looks at the extent to which young offenders can continue their education while serving custodial sentences.

THE CLASS OF 2014?

C. Ryan

Public Finance, Oct. 22nd-28th, 2004, p.26-28

Summarises Mike Tomlinson's proposals for the reform of the English public examination system and reports initial reaction. There are concerns about the replacement of independent external examiners with internal assessment by teachers, and fears that the proposals will not increase the breadth of the subjects taken by pupils at advanced level.

DEAR PRUDENCE……

J. McHugh

Public Finance, Sept. 10th-16th 2004, p.22-24

The article describes how Glasgow City Council is using the prudential borrowing regime to fund the modernisation of its dilapidated primary schools. As the population of the city is falling, the programme aims to close down half-full schools and replace them with integrated facilities that will consolidate primary, nursery and special-needs provision on one site.

FAIR GAME

W. Berliner

Education Guardian, Oct. 26th 2004, p.2-3

A new coordinated admissions scheme aims to match applications to school places so that every child gets an offer. But does it mean more choice for parents? And can it really stop those in the know from playing the system?

"HEAVEN HELP THE TEACHERS!" PARENTS' PERSPECTIVES ON THE INTRODUCTION OF EDUCATION FOR CITIZENSHIP

C. Holden

Educational Review, Vol.56, 2004, p.247-258

Parents interviewed in this research were white but came from a range of socio-economic backgrounds. All supported social and moral education in schools and felt that what they did at home underpinned this. Some agreed with teaching primary school children about political issues, but there was more support for this in secondary schools. A minority of parents felt such issues had no place in schools and some were concerned about teacher bias. Many were hesitant about the value of schools teaching about or fostering involvement in the community, seeing this as outside of the school's remit.

HUNDREDS OF SCHOOLS SET TO ALLOW PUPILS TO TAKE BACCALAUREATE

R. Garner

The Independent, Oct. 4th 2004, p.6

Three times as many schools are to offer the international baccalaureate (IB) as an alternative to A-levels within the next two years. Bob Reed, chairman of the IB Schools and Colleges Association in Britain said the figure would rise from 70 at present to 200.

LABOUR TO ADOPT EXAM PLAN IN MANIFESTO

R. Smithers

The Guardian, Oct. 18th 2004, p.2

Radical proposals that would trigger the biggest shake-up to the secondary school examination system for 60 years are likely to feature in Labour's manifesto for the next general election. The government's 18-month review of 14-19 education by a working group led by the former chief inspector for schools Mike Tomlinson, could lead to a new exam system by 2014. The centrepiece of the proposals in the Tomlinson report will be a four-part diploma to take the place of A-levels and GCSEs.

(See also (The Independent, Oct. 18th 2004, p.15; The Times, Oct. 18th 2004, p.1; Financial Times, Oct. 18th 2004, p.2; The Daily Telegraph, Oct. 18th 2004, p.1)

LANGUAGE BARRIER

J. Crace

Guardian Education, Oct. 5th 2004, p.8-9

Now that pupils are 'entitled' rather than obliged, to study a foreign language, far fewer are choosing to do so. And the result could be a dip in exam grades.

PARENTS WHO TEACH THEIR CHILDREN AT HOME 'MADE TO FEEL LIKE CRIMINALS'

S. Cassidy

The Independent, Oct. 4th 2004, p.6

Families who educate their children at home are being 'made to feel like criminals' by Government truancy patrols, which intimidate and harass them, two leading home education groups have claimed. The Home Education Advisory Service and Education Otherwise, which support home educators, claim families are experiencing aggressive questioning from the police and truancy officers about why the child is not in school.

SCHOOL FINANCE AND EQUITY IN ENGLAND

T. Simkins

Educational Management, Administration and Leadership, Vol.32, 2004, p.369-386

The article explores the changes in school funding in England between 1988 and 2002, and considers how these changes reflect the different policies, emphases and purposes of the time. In particular it examines the increased used of direct funding by New Labour since 1997, and the policies associated with this scheme. It also considers the importance of equity in these changes, and notes a definite shift from a policy of achieving equity in resource inputs to that of targeting specific outcomes for particular groups of students.

SLIPPERY SLOPE

A.U. Sale

Community Care, Sept. 30th - Oct.6th 2004, p.30-31

There is evidence that being excluded from school can kick-start offending behaviour in disadvantaged children. Schools need to collaborate with Youth Offending Teams, youth inclusion projects and youth inclusion and support panels to identify potential young offenders early and put appropriate support in place.

SLOWLY - BUT SURELY?

D. MacLeod

Guardian Education, Oct. 19th 2004, p.2-3

Mike Tomlinson's report on the reform of English public examinations carries a huge burden of hope and expectation. Many of its recommendations are already being tried in some schools; others seem strangely familiar. The author assesses its chances of making a difference.

SOMETHING TO SHOUT ABOUT

J. Oldham

Health Service Journal, vol.114, Oct.14th 2004, p.20-21

Describes how the National Primary Care Development Team has successfully applied its "Collaborative Methodology" to a programme for raising boys' achievement at school. The Team analysed schools which had already made progress in raising boys' achievement and identified five common features:

  • creating an environment for change with strong leadership;
  • focusing on "boy friendly" teaching and learning methods;
  • using mentoring and targeted intervention with pupils;
  • creating capacity (skill mix);
  • using data to drive improvement.

These principles were rolled out to schools participating in the project for systematic implementation.

SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS AND DISABILITY: TOWARDS INCLUSIVE SCHOOLS

Ofsted

London: 2004 (HMI 2276)

Reports that the Government's inclusion framework has contributed to a growing but uneven appreciation of the benefits of inclusive schools. More mainstream schools than ever before see themselves as inclusive and are keen to be identified as such. A minority of mainstream schools meet special needs very well, and others are becoming better at doing so. However, the report found that the framework has had little effect as yet on the proportion of pupils with statements of SEN in mainstream schools, or on the range of needs for which mainstream schools cater. There has been an increase of 10% in the numbers of pupils placed in independent special schools since 2001 and a 25% increase in the numbers of pupils in referral units between 2001 and 2003. There is particular resistance amongst even the most committed head teachers to admitting pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties to mainstream schools.

SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS BUREAUCRACY PROJECT: SUMMARY REPORT

Department for Education and Skills [and] Cabinet Office

London: 2004

The report outlines 34 recommendations to reduce bureaucracy placed on frontline staff in local authorities and schools. The key recommendations are aimed at:

  • removing duplication and streamlining processes;
  • facilitating information sharing and closer working;
  • improving the co-ordination of external support, assessments and transition arrangements.

THINK TANK RAPS COURSES THAT FAIL TO TEACH TEACHERS

L. Ward

The Guardian, Oct. 25th 2004, p.6

The standards required of teachers in British schools are "pitched pitifully low", compared with other countries. A report published by the right-leaning think tank Politeia says the teacher training system is a failure and many staff - particularly at primary school level - have inadequate knowledge of their subjects. It also attacks undergraduate and post-graduate teaching, saying they are unreliable and the "victims of bureaucratic box-ticking criteria".

UP TO NO GOOD

F. Gilbert

Guardian Education, Oct. 26th 2004, p.6-7

The culture of 'helping' pupils with their homework is rife in schools, says the author. Tomlinson's proposals for more teacher assessment can only make matters worse.

THE WORK OF OFSTED

Education and Skills Committee

London: TSO, 2004 (House of Commons papers, session 2003/04; HC426)

The report examines the role of Ofsted, both in its traditional role as an inspector of schools, and its recent expansion into new areas, for example the inspection of childminding and day care. It considers the cost effectiveness of the organisation, and looks at how its organisational structure may have to develop if its new ventures are to be successful. It also identifies ways in which Ofsted's relations with schools might be improved.

A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE IN TESTING TEENAGERS

S. Cassidy

The Independent, Oct. 18th 2004, p.15

Proposals by Mike Tomlinson, the former chief schools inspector, to introduce an education diploma may seem to bring Britain into line with Europe, but significant differences still remain in secondary education systems around the world. The article outlines the different standards in France, Germany, the United States, Australia and Japan.

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