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Welfare Reform on the Web (January 2006): Education - UK - schools

Age is no barrier as switch to classes based on ability gives school a lift

M. Taylor
Guardian, December 14th 2005, p.9

Bridgemary Community School, the first state secondary school to do so, groups pupils by ability and hopes to open 365 days a year as a community learning centre.  Government and additional cognitive tests are used to group children up to two years apart in age together by ability.

Back to basics seen as key to learning to read

R. Smithers
Guardian, December 1st 2005, p.6

The interim report of a government review of strategies for teaching reading in schools is proposing replacing the “Searchlight” multi-method approach with synthetic phonics.

[See also Times, December 2nd 2005, p.6 & 7; Independent, December 12th, 2005, p.4,5, & 43; Financial Times, December 2nd 2005, p.2; Daily Telegraph, December 2nd 2005, p. 1&7]

Best pupils fast tracked in university talent quest

Times, December 5th 2005, p.1&2

Thirty thousand children will be invited each year to join the government’s National Academy of Gifted and Talented Youth, using the results of tests taken by 11-year-olds.  Academy members at state schools will then be tracked and the names of those who achieve good GCSE results will be given to elite universities, which will be expected to recruit then to degree courses.  This scheme will give state school students a head start in the race for university places.

[See also Daily Telegraph, December 3rd, 2005, p.2]

Bridging the gap between policy and practice:  adopting a strategic vision for partnership working in special education

S. Pinkus
British Journal of Special Education, vol.32, 2005, p.184-187

In order to understand why partnership building between parents and professionals often proves to be problematic, semi-ethnographic case studies of the experiences of 14 parents of children with special needs were developed over two years.  Four features were identified by the parents as being central to the formation of effective partnerships:

  • Consensus about the purpose of the partnership
  • Clarity as to who is in the partnership and why
  • Enabling equal power distribution between the partners
  • Implementing transparency and accountability mechanisms for monitoring the partnership

Curriculum change in secondary schools, 1957-2004: an educational roundabout?

N. Evans
London: Routledge, 2005

The book shows how the quality of education has been affected by curriculum changes and by increasing intervention of central government. Based on the story of one secondary school between 1957 and 2004, it follows changes brought about by the introduction of the National Curriculum; the changing role of LEAs and governors; and the characteristics of school inspection charged with responsibility for policing the operation of the national tests.

Democratic leadership in education

P. A. Woods
London: Paul Chapman, 2005

Educational leadership is being redefined and re-routed towards notions of distribution where leadership permeates organisations rather than being confined to particular roles or responsibilities. In this book attention is focussed on issues of democracy and leadership. It proposes that the aims of democratic leadership are to share power, share hope and share the fruits of society.

Different class

P. Cooper
Community Care, Dec.1st-7th 2005, p.36-37

Article describes the positive effects that a family learning project in West London has had on parents and children.  Not only does it help both improve their reading and writing, but it is also particularly successful in engaging mothers in training.

Education policy and social class: the selected works of Stephen J. Ball

S. J. Ball
London: Routledge, 2006

In this book the author brings together 16 of his key writings in education policy and sociology of education. The chapters are divided into three sections:

  • Perspectives on policy research
  • Policy technologies and policy analysis
  • Social class and education policy.

Greatest classroom catastrophe in 50 years

J. Clare
Daily Telegraph, December 2nd, 2005, p. 7

The reinstatement of Synthetic Phonics, whose abandonment is seen as having precipitated falling literacy rates, has provoked criticism from teachers’ groups. The author provides background information on reading strategies and reports on successful schools which largely ignored government literacy and numeracy strategies.

Kelly fails to reassure teachers

A. Blair & P. Webster
The Times, November 18th 2005, p.27

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly has ruled out academic selection by the proposed new state Trust Schools, but has refused to make selective admissions illegal.  She has insisted that local authorities will police the admissions practices of trust schools and report any unfairness to the independent schools adjudicator.

[See also Daily Telegraph, November 18th 2005; p.6, Independent, November 18th 2005, p.4; Guardian, November 18th  2005, p.4]

Labour’s vision: helping the poorest kids to achieve

R. Kelly
Guardian Education November 29th 2005, p.5

Secretary of state Ruth Kelly sees education as the key department for promoting social mobility and improving the life chances of poor children in this article answering recent criticisms of the recent education white paper. She looks at current challenges, trust schools, and special needs provision. Local authorities are seen as parents’ champions in policing local school admissions policies.

Literacy and numeracy strategies fail struggling pupils says Ofsted

R. Smithers
Guardian December 14th 2005, p.4

Secondary schools fail to provide sufficient or effective help for pupils with literacy and numeracy problems, according to two Ofsted reports.

Loyalist MPs press Blair on school reforms

G. Hurst
Times, December 14th 2005, p.26

Reports that a group of 40 to 50 backbench Labour MPs is to publish proposals for changes to the government’s controversial White Paper on education reform.. The MPs will be calling for the admissions code of practice to be made statutory to prevent schools selecting pupils by ability and for local authorities to remain as providers of education.

Mission to turn education into a paying business

J. Boone
Financial Times, December 6th p.12

Global Education Systems, a company successful in Dubai, but less so in the UK, is happy to wait for government to come round to supporting their view on the benefits of middle priced private schools, and state schools run for profit, facilitated by easier expansion and planning.

Parents add to Blair’s misery by rejecting school reform

B. Carlin & J. Clare
Daily Telegraph, December 19th 2005, p.1

An opinion poll has damned the comprehensive schools “experiment” launched in the 1970s, Labour’s education record since 1997, and the reforms proposed in the recent  education White Paper.

[See also Daily Telegraph, December 19th 2005, p.4 for poll results and analysis]

Payment by results works for teachers

R. Garner
Independent, December 9th 2005, p.9

Pupils of teachers on performance related pay are likely to score half a grade higher in their GCSEs.

Prescott stands by attack on Labour’s school reforms.

M. White
Guardian, December 19th 2005, p.4

The Deputy Prime Minister, although not fundamentally opposed to all of the reforms proposed in the education white paper, stands by his criticisms that semi-independent school trusts will widen the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged pupils.

Schools out for ever as enrolment online starts

A. Blair
Times, December 10th, 2005, p.11

Article introduces the first online secondary school which charges £165 a month to educate 60 children from home with 5 teachers, online assembly, library and exams, and a fortnightly telephone call for parents.

Schools risk missing out on millions if reforms go through

T. Halpin
Times, December 27th, 2005, p.4

Hundreds of millions of pounds of education spending will be put at risk by the government’s plans to reform schools, according to local government leaders. Investment in new buildings and facilities could come to a halt if schools broke away from local councils and established themselves as independent trusts.

Schools to encourage emotional intelligence

A. Blair
Times, November 28th 2005, p.12

A reduction in “serious incidents” following the use of an emotional intelligence tool kit has prompted government to urge teachers to encourage emotional learning as part of normal classes.

Secondary schools plan in cities fails to improve GCSE grades

R. Smithers
Guardian, November 25th 2005, p.15

The Excellence in Cities scheme was designed to raise educational standards in the poorest communities.  However, an evaluation by the National Foundation for Educational Research has shown that it has failed to have any impact on GCSE results because youngsters were not entering secondary school “with the appropriate skills and attitudes”

Teaching unions call for scrapping of plan for trust schools

J. Boone
Financial Times, December 8th 2005, p. 5

Four teaching unions have told the Commons Education Select Committee that plans for semi-independent trust schools floated in the education white paper should be scrapped, and have warned that children from the poorest backgrounds would lose out under the scheme.

A tribute to Caroline Benn: education and democracy

M. Benn and C. Chitty (editors)
London: Continuum, 2004

Caroline Benn made an immense contribution to public life through her work in educational politics and as one of the leaders of the Comprehensive Schools Movement. This collection of essays celebrates her lifetime of work in the service of the ideal of creating of a fairer education system and a humane democracy.

Trust schools “will be able to select by stealth”

R. Garner
Independent, November 21st 2005, p.18

The proposed non-legally binding code of practice on admissions will allow new semi-independent trust schools to select pupils by stealth according to critics of the education reform white paper.

Unacceptable pupil behaviour:  evidence from England and Wales

S.R. St J. Neill
ChildRight, issue 221, 2005, p.19-20

Presents results of a survey of teachers in England and Wales which explored their experiences of problem pupil behaviour and the sources of support available to them. Concludes that more attention should be paid to dealing with low-level disruption in the classroom, such as interrupting and answering back. Argues that teachers need to be given explicit legal rights to discipline pupils, including the use of reasonable force where necessary.

Universities in move to sponsor academies

R. Evans & M. Taylor
Guardian, December 5th 2005, p.4

Two universities have agreed to sponsor schools in government’s controversial academies programme and a further four are engaged in negotiations.  Under the scheme, private individuals and business can pay up to £2 million to sponsor an academy. In return, they gain a large degree of control over the school’s curriculum, staffing and ethos.

We must not concede the politics of aspiration for all

T. Blair
Guardian November 18th 2005, p.33

The Prime Minister writes on Labour’s education policy, defends the recent education white paper, tackles “myths” and “misplaced fears” and promotes private and third sector partnerships.

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