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Welfare Reform on the Web (November 1999): Education - UK - Schools

3-YEAR-OLDS IN NURSERY REVOLUTION

R Smithers

Guardian, Sept. 6th 1999, p. 5

Reports on the creation of 41,500 nursery places this month, rising to 47,800 next year and increasing free provision to around half of all eligible three-year-olds. The first beneficiaries will be children living in 57 selected local authorities, which have been identified as inner city areas and which include education action zones.

51 GRAMMAR SCHOOLS ON ABOLITION LIST

J Clare

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 3rd 1999, p. 4

Reports that 51 grammar schools have been targeted for abolition over the next 10 months by supporters of the Campaign for State Education Five areas have begun the first stage of the process by submitting a formal request to Electoral Reform Ballot Services to identify which parent are entitled to vote.

(See also Independent, Sept. 2nd 1999, p. 10)

BACK TO THE FUTURE: THE DEVELOPMENT OF EDUCTIONAL POLICY IN ENGLAND

L Bell

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 37, 1999, p. 200-228

Paper traces the growth of educational policy in England and explores the four phases through which school administration has passed in the last 30 years. The first three phases, Social democratic, Resource constrained and Market all contain elements which inform the Excellence phase which is being pursued by New Labour. This phase combines a determination to improve the quality of pupil learning with a more interventionist set of strategies than has been seen in recent years. However these policies are based on serious misconceptions about the value of research evidence on the nature of schools as organisations and about the nature of leadership in autonomous schools.

BATTLE IS JOINED ON GRAMMAR SCHOOLS FUTURE

J Carvel

Guardian, Sept. 1st 1999, p. 7

Pro-comprehensive campaigners have taken the first steps towards triggering local ballots to abolish the 11-plus under legislation introduced last year, giving parents in England the right to decide on the future status of grammar schools in their area.

(See also Times, Sept. 1st 1999, p. 4; Independent, Sept. 1st 1999, p. 1)

BEYOND FAILURE

D Walker

Guardian, August 27th, 1999, p. 25

Reports that 15 to 20% of school leavers are at risk of social exclusion, either having no GCSE passes or grades too low to impress prospective employers. Schools need to be encouraged to switch their attention from A + - C achievers to those on G and F grades, who could be pushed up a rung or two given more time. Links between poor performance at school and low family income are strong, so improving the financial position of poor families is also vital to bettering the life chances of their children.

BLAIR HAILS SURGE IN PRIMARY TEST RESULTS

J O'Leary

Times, Sept. 13th 1999, p. 1

A year after the introduction of a literacy-hour in primary schools, tests of 11-year-olds in English are expected to show an improvement of at least 5% in the proportion reaching the target level. The rises in mathematics and science are expected to be twice as high.

(See also Guardian, Sept. 13th 1999, p. 3; Independent, Sept. 16th 1999, p. 8)

BLAIR SALUTES RISE IN PRIMARY STANDARDS

M Henderson

Times, Sept. 16th 1999, p. 13

Results of the latest key stage 2 assessments show that 70% of 11-year-olds passed the English test a level 4, an increase of 5% on last year, while 69% reached the sae standard in maths, a 10% rise. In English the greatest improvement was in reading, where 81% of pupils (up 10% on last year and more than the government target) reached the required standard. Writing performance improved less steeply, with 3% more pupils achieving level 4 than last year.

(See also Daily Telegraph, Sept. 16th 1999, p. 7; Guardian, Sept. 16th 1999, p. 8)

CHILDHOOD, AGENCY AND EDUCATION REFORM

M G Wyness

Childhood, vol. 6, 1999, p. 353-368

Article examines the position of pupils in schools with reference to:

  • the role of the market and the individualizing of education;
  • the need to produce 'schooled' citizens by drawing attention to the relationship between the school and the wider community;
  • public concerns over behavioural and curricular standards.

Argues that recent education reform provides few channels for pupil participation.

CUTTING A FAIR SLICE FOR SCHOOLS

S Elly

Public Finance, August 27th - Sept. 1st, 1999, p. 24-26

From financial year 2000/01 local authorities will be expected to delegate 80% of their budget to schools. LEAs will retain five blocks of expenditure (strategic management, access, school improvement, special educational provision and non-school expenditure such as student awards), while in theory everything else will be delegated to schools.

DANGERS OF EARLY LEARNING

R Smithers

Guardian, August 16th 1999, p. 5

New research suggests that forcing children too young into formal education could reinforce the 'summer-born' effect which leaves those born later in the academic year struggling to catch up with their classmates. Government primary school tests exaggerate seasonal differences in children's development because they take no account of age. Children born in the summer tend to do less well than their classmates, particularly during the first years at primary school.

(See also Independent, August 16th 1999, p. 8)

DO WE WANT TO BUS THE MIDDLE CLASS?

D Blunkett

Guardian, Sept. 16th 1999, p. 21

Outlines the Labour government's approach to improving standards in schools in disadvantaged areas through increased targetted funding and the introduction of the literacy and numeracy hours to get the basics rights.

EIGHT-YEAR-OLDS TO BE GIVEN LESSONS ON POCKET MONEY

J Carvel

Guardian, Sept. 9th 1999, p. 3

Reports changes to the school curriculum that will involve children being taught about how to manage money from the age of five.

EXAM UNDERCLASS REVEALED BY GCSES

J Judd

Independent, August 26th 1999, p. 1

Teachers argue that a smaller increase in the success rate for weaker GCSE entrants is a side-effect of League Tables which encourage schools to concentrate on other pupils.

(See also Financial Times, August 26th 1999, p. 6; Guardian, August 26th 1999, p. 2)

EXCELLENCE IN CITIES

Department for Education and Employment

Nottingham: 1999

Presents an action plan for improving inner city education through:

  • expansion of the specialist and beacon schools programme;
  • offering special programmes for gifted and talented children;
  • launch of a new network of learning centres;
  • encouragement of setting by schools;
  • giving a new emphasis to literacy and numeracy teaching;
  • strengthening school leadership;
  • turning around the weakest schools;
  • modernising LEAs;
  • tackling disruption;
  • providing a learning mentor for every young person who needs one;
  • introducing new, smaller, Education Action Zones.

FAST-TRACK TEST FOR TOP PUPILS AT STATE SCHOOLS

S Targett

Financial Times, August 23rd 1999, p. 6

Top pupils at state schools are to be offered "fast -track" tests at the ages of 9 and 13 to detect early promise in specific subjects, including mathematics. Pupils taking these tests will be encouraged to sit GCSEs early, probably at 14.

(See also Guardian, August 23rd 1999, p. 9)

GRAMMAR SCHOOLS AND STEALTH VOTES

J Bercon

Daily Telegraph, August 25th 1999, p. 20

Argues that Labour's system of parental ballets on the future of the 166 remaining grammar schools is weighted against their survival.

HAGUE: GIVEN EACH TOWN A GRAMMAR

B Russell

Independent, Sept. 3rd 1999, p. 6

William Hague has proposed that grammar schools should be set up in every town if there is demand from parents, and schools should be free to select some or all of their pupils by ability.

(See also Times, Sept. 3rd 1999, p. 4)

HEADS ARE ANGRY AT BLUNKETT'S 'NANNYING' BLUEPRINT

J Carvel

Guardian, Sept. 10th 1999, p. 11

Reports criticism by teaching unions of the slimmed down national curriculum as still being over-prescriptive, inflexible and prejudical to teachers' professional autonomy. It is also feared that the renewed emphasis on the value of marriage may lead to children of divorced and single parents being stigmatised. It is also argued that decisions to make a list of pre-1914 classic writers compulsory instead of exemplary and the reinstatement of facts and dates in history show that the government has bowed to pressure from the media and small right wing groups.

(See also Independent, Sept. 10th 1999, p. 8; Daily Telegraph, Sept. 10th 1999, p. 9)

HEADS WARN OVER TOO MUCH HOMEWORK

J Carvel

Guardian, August 17th 1999, p. 4

Headteachers' leaders have warned against schools setting so much homework that children have no time for sports and hobbies. There is a danger that pressure from parents and governors will force schools to give pupils more homework than is good for them. From next month every state school is obliged to publish its homework policy as part of a home-school agreement setting out what is expected from teachers, parents and pupils.

(See also Daily Telegraph, August 17th 1999, p. 7; Times, August 17th 1999, p. 6, Independent August 17th 1999, p. 5)

HOW LABOUR SNEAKED IN A PLEDGE TO KILL OFF GRAMMARS

T Utley

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 3rd 1999, p. 24

The Labour Party's manifesto pledge that changes to admissions policies of grammar schools will be decided by local parents is now being implemented. Article argues that the voting system and the ballot itself are rigged in favour of abolitionists. In the first place, only parents whose children go to feeder schools will be allowed to vote. Secondly the wording on the ballot paper does not spell out the implications of a 'yes' vote.

KEEP YOUR EYES WIDE OPEN IN THE SCHOOLING DEBATE

P Preston

Guardian, August 23rd 1999, p. 24

Argues that Labour's education revolution is contradictory and has lost its way. While strongly opposed to selection of pupils by schools by ability at the age of 11, the government encourages selection in the form of setting within comprehensive schools.

LABOUR 'FAILING ON EDUCATION SPENDING TARGETS'

A Parker

Financial Times, Sept. 13th 1999, p. 13

Labour's 1997 general election manifesto promised that the party would raise spending on education to 5% of gross domestic product. An analysis by the House of Commons Library shows that education spending peaked at 5.1% in 1994/95, will be 4.7% in the current year and should rise to 4.9% in 2001-02.

NO SUPPORT FOR SCHOOL SUPPORT

Anon

Labour Research, vol 88, Sept 1999, p 23-24

The government's answer to the difficulties faced by education support services in deprived areas is to contract out those deemed to be failing.

OFSTED: WOODHEAD'S EMPIRE GROWS

R Smithers

Public Finance, August 27th-Sept 2nd 1999, p 16-18

Charts the expansion of Ofsted's role under the Labour government to include upholding of standards for 16-19 year olds in further education colleges, and regulation of childcare services. Outlines concerns that the expansion of Ofsted is undermining the work of local authorities and the Further Education Funding Council.

PARTNERS IN THE LEA TANGO

J Fair

Public Finance, August 13th-26th 1999, p 20-21

Reports that three Local Education Authorities (Birmingham, Essex and Hampshire) have been chosen to act as consultants to failing education authorities alongside names such as Capita KPMG and Nord Anglia.

POLITICAL COUP BRED EDUCATIONAL DISASTER

N Davies

Guardian, Sept 16th 1999, p 1, 4-5

The British education system of today, with its apparatus of league tables, standard assessments, the national curriculum, parental choice and local management of schools was designed by Lord Baker in the 1980s. It was based not on research evidence but on whim and political ideology. Baker began by destroying the power of the teaching unions by removing by statute their rights to negotiate on pay. Introduction of parental choice and management of budgets by individual schools emasculated Local Education Authorities. The effect of these reforms was to polarise the secondary education system. Successful comprehensives attracted the brightest children and the most funding and became grammar schools in all but name. Unsuccessful schools in poor areas were starved of funds and left to struggle.

POWER TO THE TEACHERS?

P Revell

Times, August 27th 1999, p 25

Reports on the creation of the General Teaching Council for England. This will initially have fairly limited powers, but will be able to suspend or debar teachers for incompetence or misconduct. If the new council manages to avoid professional bickering and succeeds in speaking with one voice on key issues of standards and accountability, it may acquire functions devolved from the Teacher Training Agency and become genuinely powerful.

SCHOOL FIRST TO TRY FIVE TERMS

B Russell

Independent, Sept 8th 1999, p 6

Woodlands primary school in Grimsby has introduced a five-term school year. Most of the five eight-week terms will be separated by two-week holiday periods, although there will be a four-week summer break. The move is designed to test claims that cutting the traditional six week summer break will raise standards.

(See also Times, Sept 1999, p 11).

SEX EDUCATION: LESSONS TO BE LEARNT FROM GOING DUTCH

P Day and D Lane

Community Practitioner, vol 72, 1999, p 259-260

Sex education in the Netherlands is research-based and places a great emphasis on the development of self-esteem and communication skills. To reduce the alarming statistics surrounding sexual health in Britain, a similar programme is needed here.

TEACHERS: MEETING THE CHALLENGE OF CHANGE

Department for Education and Employment

London: TSO, 1998 (Cm 4164)

Presents proposals for modernisation of the teaching profession through:

  • introduction of performance related pay based on an annual appraisal;
  • development of a national training framework for head teachers;
  • improvement of in-service training and professional development opportunities;
  • increase in the number of teaching assistants.

WEAK ON GRAMMARS

R Hattersley

Guardian, Sept 13th 1999, p 15

Argues that the use of parental ballots to determine the future status of selective schools will engender a bitter public debate which will be very damaging to the government.

WEALTH IS KEY TO SUCCESS AT A LEVEL

J O'Leary

Times, August 18th 1999, p 2

Reports results of an analysis by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority which shows that the record increase in GCSE and A-level pass rates over the past decade has been fuelled by a rise in the number of teenagers from affluent families sitting the examinations rather than a decline in marking standards.

(See also Independent, August 18th 1999, p 6).

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