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

£1.4 million shadow over city academies

A. Blair

The Times, June 20th 2005, p.13

Plans to expand Tony Blair's academy school programme received a setback yesterday after the Government admitted that it had bailed out Unity City Academy in Middlesbrough to the tune of £1.4 million. The handout has raised concerns about the sustainability of academies and the potential cost to the taxpayer.

14-19 education: policy, leadership & learning

J.Lumby and N. Foskett

London: Sage Publications, 2005

14-19 education is currently the subject of intense scrutiny and reforming activity. As with many apparently 'sudden' manifestations, the preparations have been a long time in the making. Concerns over, for example, the numbers leaving schooling with few or no qualifications, youth unemployment, and the unsuitability of the qualifications gained to equip young people for twenty-first century life and work, have all surfaced in many forms for decades. The recent appearance of 14-19 education as a target for policy development is the result of such concerns increasingly in intensity. The authors believe that 14-19 education is at a critical point and that there is potential for significant change in a way that has not previously been the case; the time is right for a fundamental reconsideration of what 14-19 education is for. Even more importantly, it is time to consider who it is for.

A-levels 'certain to disappear within a decade'

R. Garner

The Independent, June 8th 2005, p.12

A-levels, for 50 years considered the 'gold standard' of the exams system, will disappear after all within the next decade, the Government's chief exams adviser will say in a keynote speech this week. Dr Ken Boston, the chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, will make it clear for the first time that plans to replace the exams with a national diploma embracing vocational qualifications will become a reality. [See also The Times, June 22nd 2005, p.1)

Academy in conflict of interest row

R. Smithers

The Guardian, June 19th 2005, p.4

The future of a city academy in north London had been thrown into fresh confusion after claims that that the senior government education adviser who will decide on whether it goes ahead is compromised by ' a conflict of interest' over her role in the project. Elizabeth Passmore, the government's schools' adjudicator, will shortly decide if an Islington primary school should be demolished to make way for a church-sponsored 'two-in-one' academy, designed by the private company which employed her until last month. Dr Passmore stepped down only two weeks ago from the panel of advisers to Dubai-based company Gems (Global Education Management Systems) which runs 13 private schools in the UK. It had taken over 3Es, the firm paid to design the Islington academy, which would be the first 'through' academy catering for the 4-18 age group.

Academies’ sponsors 'frustrated'

M. Green

Financial Times, June 16th 2005, p.6

Private backers of the government's flagship city academies are providing valuable new opportunities for pupils in some of the country's most deprived areas, according to the first official evaluation of the policy. But the report said the sponsors, who range from companies to philanthropists, were 'frustrated' by the limits to their schools' independence. Some were unhappy about being made to collaborate with the Department for Education, other schools and councils. Most parents and pupils surveyed in the report by PwC, the professional services firm, believed the sponsors, who have put up £2m towards the new state schools and appoint the governors, were helping to transform attitudes and standards. Report's main points are:

  • Parents and pupils support the role of sponsors and their appointed governors
  • sponsors and heads want a clearer definition of what 'independence' means
  • academies have managed to achieve a break in low aspirations
  • of 11 academies open in 2004, six have improved GCSE performance
  • behaviour has improved but bullying remains a problem

(See also The Independent, June 16th 2005, p.7; Daily Telegraph, June 16th 2005, p. 6)

Almost 10,000 pupils expelled as violence against teachers escalates

T. Halpin

The Times, June 24 2005, p.9

Expulsions for schools are running at their highest level for five years, according to government figures. Violence and threats against pupils and teachers accounted for almost half of the 9,880 expulsions last year. Ministers asked schools for the first time this year to say why they had excluded children. Persistent disruptive behaviour was given as the biggest single reason.

Blow to academy scheme as school sponsor pulls out

W. Woodward and R. Smithers

The Guardian, June 14th 2005, p.2

Tony Blair's flagship academy programme, designed to raise school standards, is dealt a fresh blow today with a revelation that a private education company poised to take control of the biggest and most ambitious project to date has pulled out because of a parents' revolt at an independent school it owns in the same town. Global Education Management Systems (GEMS) - the second largest provider of independent education in the country with a chain of 13 day schools - had agreed to sponsor the most lucrative academy in the UK so far. Under the plans, two new schools would have been built in Milton Keynes at a total cost of £50m - £46m of taxpayers' money through the Department for Education and Skills and £4m from the sponsors - under the control of a Gems-appointed 'superhead'. But amid growing public and political concern about the role of the private sector in state education it has been revealed that bad publicity for Gems in the local media has force it to drop the academy project. (See also Education Guardian, June 14th 2005, p.2-3)

Creativity is lost on schools, says Motion

S. Cassidy

The Independent, June 27th 2005, p.14

Poetry and creative writing are being squeezed out of secondary schools because of the government's failure to make time in the curriculum for creativity, Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate, has warned. They had disappeared 'almost entirely' from the secondary curriculum, where the focus was on exams as a result of the pressure of league tables.

Inclusion: lessons from the children

P. Jones

British Journal of Special Education, vol.32, 2005, p.60-66

While acting as a consultant to an Early Years Childcare Development Partnership, the author was asked to draw up a charter for inclusion for the group. It was decided to draw upon the views of children and a picture booklet with questions was designed to elicit these. Parents or primary care workers went through the booklet with the children, exploring what inclusion meant for them. Responses demonstrated the strong contribution children are able to make to philosophical debates about inclusion and to our understanding of what helps or hinders inclusive practice.

Kelly will make it easier for private schools to receive public funding

R. Garner

The Independent, June 13th 2005, p.14

The Government is planning to make it easier for private schools to 'opt in' to the state sector. This would allow more minority faith schools to receive more state funding. The Education Secretary said she had already been approached by Muslim schools to opt into the state sector. Jewish and Christian schools are anxious to follow suit.

Leadership development for early headship: the New Visions experience

T. Bush and D. Glover

School Leadership and Management, vol.25, 2005, p.217-239

Paper reports the findings of an evaluation of the New Visions programme piloted by the National College of School Leadership in 2002/03. New Visions is a leadership development programme targeted on head teachers during their first three years in post. The evaluation evidence shows that the New Visions approach, which focuses on reflection, transformation and individual and school development, has been welcomed by participants.

Managing special educational needs: a practical guide for primary and secondary schools

S. Gibson and S. Blandford

London: Sage Publications, 2005

Offering guidance and practical examples of managing special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream primary and secondary schools, this book is written from a practitioner's perspective. Its emphasis is on creating and sustaining an inclusive school environment. Drawing from their experience in a range of schools, the authors highlight problems encountered by professionals and offer practical solutions and advice. Topics include:

  • the role of the SENCO as teacher and manager
  • an explanation of government policy and legislation
  • advice on self-regulation, good practice and monitoring
  • how to relate SEN to school targets and development plans

Schools may open all year to help working parents

A. Blair

The Times, June 14th 2005, p.24

School holidays will in effect come to an end for young children by 2010 under plans for England's schools to offer year-round out-of-hours activities. In an effort to end the culture of 'latchkey kids' returning to empty homes while their parents work, Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, yesterday made an extra £680 million available for provision of care from 8am to 6pm during term time and holidays. Main points are:

  • all schools to offer childcare and out-of-hours activities for under-14s from 2010
  • activities to include breakfast clubs, sport, languages and first aid
  • involvement of voluntary workers or private companies
  • parenting support and adult learning courses also to be offered.

School leadership and management after Special Measures: discipline without the gaze

J. Perryman

School Leadership and Management, vol.25, 2005, p.281-297

Article explores what happened to an English school emerging from 'Special Measures', a regime of intensive inspection applied to a school deemed to be failing. The school continued to improve for about nine months after it emerged from Special Measures because the head teacher continued the rigorous regime experienced under inspection, including a highly visible management team, a continuing programme of lesson observation and a drive for innovation and change. However, surveillance slackened after nine months, and it took the return of the Ofsted inspectors to restore the disciplinary regime.

Speech and language therapy and the Knowles Edge Standards Fund Project: an evaluation of the service provided to a cluster of primary schools

S. Roulstone, R. Owen and L. French

British Journal of Special Education, vol.32, 2005, p.78-85

The project was one of 25 speech and language therapy projects established in schools in England and funded through the Standards Fund. It was based on a systems analysis approach and targeted interventions at the individual child, the teachers and therapists, the classrooms and schools, and more strategic levels in health and education services. An independent evaluation showed that children made gains in their speech and language, parents were informed and involved, therapists and teachers were more satisfied about their knowledge base, and systems changed within schools to support the collaboration.

Speech and language therapy support for pupils with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties (BESD): a pilot project

S. Heneker

British Journal of Special Education, vol.32, 2005, p.86-91

Current research highlights the prevalence of potentially undetected speech and language difficulties, often associated with major difficulties in literacy and learning, among pupils with BESD. Article reports on a pilot project which provided speech and language therapy to a group of 11 pupils in a Pupil Referral Unit, six of whom were assessed as having significant problems. All of these pupils made progress in the areas targeted for intervention and in their communication skills generally.

SRE: a programme to support community nurses

H. Chalmers and others

Community Practitioner, vol.78, 2005, p.199-200

Article gauges the success of a one-year certified professional development programme designed to prepare school nurses to support the delivery of effective sex and relationship education to young people.

Teaching of reading will return to the sound method

J. Clare

The Daily Telegraph, June 3rd 2005, p.1

The first step in a radical reform of the way every child is taught to read was announced yesterday by Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary. She set up an independent review of 'the role of the synthetic phonetics' in teaching reading, which will lead to a fundamental re-writing of the national literacy strategy introduced by the Government seven years ago. The change, which will require schools to be taught the sounds and letters of the alphabet within the first 16 weeks of school, will be introduced in September next year. (See also The Independent, June 3rd 2005, p.4; The Guardian, June 3rd 2005 p.6; The Times, June 3rd 2005, p.17).

Transformational leadership within secondary schools in England: a panacea for organizational ills?

G. Currie, I. Boyett and O. Suhomlinova

Public Administration, vol.83, 2005, p.265-296

The New Labour government has promoted transformational leadership by principals as a means to improve school performance. However, research shows that in practice head teachers draw on a range of leadership approaches, depending on the situation they are trying to manage at the time. Discretion in leadership is constrained by the need to meet government targets for pupil attainment, especially in socially deprived areas. At the same time, leadership is difficult to share with others inside the school, such as deputy head teachers, and with external stakeholders such as parents.

Warnock performs U-turn over move from special schools

R. Garner

The Independent, June 4th 2005, p.4

Baroness Warnock, the architect of the drive towards teaching special-needs children in mainstream schools, is to deliver a damning indictment of the system. Mary Warnock, whose report on special education 25 years ago began the move towards inclusion, is calling for a 'radical review' of procedures. In a pamphlet to be published by the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain, she says the pressure to include pupils with special needs in mainstream schools causes 'confusion of which children are the casualties'.

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