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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2005): Education - UK - Schools

Academic says A-levels fail top universities

R. Smithers and P. Curtis

The Guardian, May 11th 2005, p.4

The head of admissions at Cambridge University has said that A-levels are not the qualification of the future while demanding that a proposed new test to stretch the brightest youngsters be made compulsory for all sixth-formers.

Backing for writing test with no place for spelling

R. Smithers

The Guardian, May 18th 2005, p.11

The government's exam regulator last night launched a strong defence of its national English test for 14-year-olds after it was revealed that the examiners have been ordered not to penalise incorrect spelling in a key writing paper. The annual test was taken earlier this month by an estimated 600,000 youngsters at secondary school, to measure their attainment in both reading and writing at the end of the so-called Key Stage Three. But the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority confirmed that it had asked its examiners not to deduct marks for incorrect spelling in one of the two writing papers which make up the test.

Boys-only classes will improve lagging results, says report

M. Taylor

The Guardian, May 30th 2005, p.6

Boys should be separated from girls for some lessons in order to overcome the "laddish" culture that stops them fulfilling their potential, according to a four-year government backed study. Academics at Cambridge University's Faculty of Education recommended schemes that specifically targeted students "who exerted considerable power and influence within the peer group".

Bright pupils let down by state schools

T. Halpin

The Times, May 23rd 2005, p.1-2

Thousands of comprehensive schools are still failing Britain's most able children, Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, has been told. Research, commissioned by a key government advisor, shows that pupils rated among the brightest prospects at primary school go on to under-achieve at GCSE. Some do only nearly half as well as their peers in good schools. The study, by David Jesson of York University, reveals that high-achievers do better when grouped together and highlights the scale of the challenge of tackling poor secondary schooling, particularly in deprived urban areas.

Chaos theory

D. Perks

Education Guardian, May 3rd 2005, p.10

Author asks, in response to recent media coverage of behaviour in the classroom, if poor behaviour is really preventing teachers from teaching? He believes that if teachers do not know what to teach, it is not surprising if they also do not know how to teach.

Devolution, social policy and education: some observations from Northern Ireland

C. Donnelly and R.D. Osborne

Social Policy and Society vol. 4, 2005, p. 147 - 156

The Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement provides a framework for promoting equality, human rights and inclusion in policy making according to this paper which discusses education policy developments in Northern Ireland since 1998, and argues for the necessity of regionally sensitive policy studies in the post-devolution UK.

Diversity, creativity and imagination in the early years

M. Charlton

Early Years, Spring 2005, p.7-10

Article describes the benefits of a collection of inspirational collaborations between black and Asian artists and early years settings in an area dominated by a white British monoculture.

Flagship academy to be failed by Ofsted

S. Cassidy

The Independent, May 18th 2005, p.4

One of the Government's city academies is set to be failed Ofsted inspectors, putting pressure on ministers to justify the controversial programme which is expensive but has so far failed to deliver significant improvements in academic achievement. The 18m Unity City Academy in Middlesborough was found to be failing to provide a good education. The school - the first city academy deemed to be failing - is likely to be put into "special measures".

(See also The Times, May 18th 2005, p.26)

Education maintenance allowances (EMAs): attainment of national qualifications in the Scottish pilots: final report to the Scottish Executive

L. Croxford, J. Ozga and F. Provan

Scottish Executive Social research, 2004

Education Maintenance Allowances (EMAs) provide pupils from low-income backgrounds with up to 30.00 per week if they continue into post-compulsory education. Research shows that they encourage more young people to stay at school and also help them improve their grades.

'Good faith and effort?' Perspectives on educational inclusion

B.A. Cole

Disability and Society, vol.20, 2005, p.331-344

Article explores the meaning of educational inclusion in the context of UK schools where there is "zero tolerance" of failure through in-depth interviews with six women who are both mothers of, and teachers of, children with disabilities and/or special needs (SEN). The voices of these mother-teachers suggest that there are no quick fixes and that achieving inclusion requires sustained effort, commitment and risk-taking on the part of both families and teachers.

Inclusion and pupil support

Department for Training and Education

Welsh Assembly Government Cardiff: 2005

Document sets out the Assembly Government's approach to, and principles for, inclusion in education and emphasises that this involves removing barriers to learning for all pupils, not just those with special needs. It provides advice and sets out responsibilities for maintaining high levels of attendance and positive behaviour in schools, as well as the requirement to support pupils with special needs to ensure they don't become disengaged from education. It also covers education provided outside the school setting.

Kelly to examine two-tier school pay

R. Smithers and W. Woodward

The Guardian, May 18th 2005, p.4

Plans to shake up the pay and conditions of thousands of classroom teaching assistants and support staff are being considered by the government, in a move that could see the introduction of a national pay scale. This would reverse government policy by stripping responsibility for setting pay away from local authorities and bringing the pay structure for support staff into line with that of teachers.

Lad lit

A. Davey

Education Guardian, May 24th 2005, p.9

Article asks why English topics in tests at 11 and 14 are so boy-friendly? Recent changes to Standard Assessment Tests (SATS) have removed choice from the writing paper. Instead of being given the option of writing, for example, a story, all pupils are now forced to do the same task. This doesn't automatically favour one particular group, but many teachers are concerned that the task appeals more to boys.

A MAP for families with autistic children

P. Gordon Smith

Early Education, Spring 2005, p.3-5

Presents a case study of how Maytree Nursery School in South London has included children with autism through adaptation of its provision and the development of a support programme for parents.

More choose private education as parents lose faith in state schools

A. Blair

The Times, May 10th 2005, p.20

More parents are turning their backs on the state system and choosing to educate their children privately, as record numbers of independent school students go on to university. Although dozens of schools charge fees of more than 20,000 a year, 620,000 children - or 7 per cent of all school pupils - are now privately educated, according to the latest census by the Independent Schools Council.

(See also The Daily Telegraph, May 10th 2005, p.1)

Power struggle

J. Crace

Education Guardian, May 10th 2005, p.2-3

Giving parents more say is Labour's new big idea for education. Will it improve schools, or is it just another gimmick guaranteed to get teachers' backs up? Given the Labour's much reduced majority, the article looks at the likelihood of parent power returning to the political agenda.

Private school parents in revolt

A. Blair

The Times, May 25th 2005, p.3

The company that promised to introduce "no frills" private education to England is facing a revolt from parents at the first school that it took over. Parents at Bury Lawns School in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, passed a vote of no confidence in Global Enterprise Management Systems (Gems) after the departure of four headteachers in a year. Hundreds of parents complaining of an "atmosphere of fear" and a collapse in morale will present Gems with an ultimatum to hand control of Bury Lawns back to the headteacher and demand they have a say in hiring staff.

Read my lips: whatever happened to that promise?

J. Crace

Education Guardian, May 3rd, 2005, p.2-3

Article asks if we have given up on getting rid of grammar schools? Labour came to power in 1997 apparently committed to ending selection. After eight years, there are even more children in grammar schools and the issue has scarcely been mentioned in the election campaign.

Secondary education

Education and Skills Committee

London: TSO, 2005 (House of Commons papers, session 2004/05; HC86)

Report finds that:

  • There is no evidence that the specialist schools programme and the City Academy initiative have actually raised standards
  • Government should not rely solely on national targets to raise standards in schools.
  • Government should take steps to reverse the trend away from parents choosing schools and towards schools choosing which children they wish to admit.
  • Government needs to do more to address the problem of bad behaviour among pupils.
  • There is a tension between proposals to give schools more independence and the government's desire for them to work collaboratively in partnerships.
  • Local authorities may not be able to exercise a strategic planning role where schools are becomimg more autonomous.

Starting over

R. Smithers

Education Guardian, May 17th 2005, p.2-5

Discipline, respect, standards and parent power: in her first interview since the election, Ruth Kelly sets out her stall for the new term.

State education system 'must die'

T. Halpin

The Times, May 13th 2005, p.16

Chris Woodhead, the former head of Ofsted, said yesterday that he was looking forward to the destruction of the state education system. Mr Woodhead urged head teachers of independent schools not to engage in partnerships with their state counterparts, saying that they were only propping up a failed system.

Survey warns over teacher figures

M. Taylor

The Guardian, May 11th 2005, p.4

The number of unqualified teachers working in UK schools has risen by 500% since Labour came into power. According to the recruitment agency Select Education, many schools have witnessed a jump in numbers of "instructors", graduates and foreign teachers, none of whom have UK teaching qualifications.

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