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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2006): Education - UK - Schools


Independent, February 13th 2006, p.19

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly has sought to defuse opposition to the Education Bill by introducing amendments banning schools from interviewing prospective pupils or their parents. However, and education think tank report argues that school visits will be used to assess parents, while expensive uniforms and costly extracurricular activities will deter poor children from applying to prestigious schools.

Blair’s education reforms aren’t worth all this fuss?

R. Sylvester,

Daily Telegraph, January 23rd 2006, p.18

The education white paper proposals have produced much synthetic posturing and rage according to this feature which argues that the reforms, which simply tinker with existing provisions on academies for example, could be introduced without new legislation.

P. Toynbee

Guardian, January 24th 2006, p. 27

The absurdly over-hyped schools white paper is political suicide for Blair and Labour according to Toynbee who highlights recent research suggesting Labour’s admissions code is working for prioritisation of pupils with special needs and in local care. Foundation, faith and voluntary aided schools are however evading the code.

A. Blair

Times, February 22nd 2006, p.11

1,500 schools have already signed up to the £10 per head Renaissance Learning reading programme which, following an initial assessment, quizzes pupils about what they have read. The uptake of the course, designed in 1986 by an American mother, comes after urgent action to address illiteracy was called for last year. One source states that 150,000 pupils per year reach secondary school without reading ability.

A. Blair

Times, February 13th 2006, p.13

Forty per cent of schools do not register for the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth (NAGTY) which provides courses and summer schools priced according to parental income for the brightest pupils in registered schools. One unregistered school prefers to stretch its own talented pupils, doubting the NAGTY’s ability to meet children’s needs, but Academy director Eyre points to misguided ideology to explain the lack of interest.

J. Boone

Financial Times, February 10th 2006, p.2

While Microsoft and KPMG support the trust school proposals, further interest from prestigious companies was not apparent at a Downing Street event where the business presence was heavily outweighed by that of the education and voluntary sectors.

[See also Independent, February 10th 2006, p.22]

T. Halpin

Times, January 24th 2006, p.25

Faith schools, which comprise 42% of the top 200 comprehensives, admit many fewer poor children, and are one of the major causes of “social selection” according to a fair-admissions campaigning trust.

[See also Daily Telegraph, January 24th 2006, p.4]

F. Lawrence & J. Carvel

Guardian, January 28th 2006, p.5

The government’s programme to promote fruit and vegetables in schools has been hit by a freeze on health spending and by an official evaluation that suggests it has made little significant impact on children’s consumption.

J. Clare

Daily Telegraph, February 17th 2006, p. 1 & 2

The first ever figures to be published since compulsory performance assessment was introduced show 52 per cent of 5-year-olds falling below government targets set two years ago. Girls do better than boys and poor scores are noted in disadvantaged areas. The article outlines the targets.

T. Halpin

Times, January 30th 2006, p.15

The Education Secretary’s meeting today with potential commercial and charity sector sponsors of independent trust schools underlines her determination to press on with the reforms set out in the education white paper despite criticism and calls for compromise from increasing numbers of high profile critics within the Labour Party. Senior figures have warned the Prime Minister that, unless watered down, the proposals threaten serious damage to the Party.

[See also Daily Telegraph, January 30th 2006, p.2].

Labour Research, vol.95, Feb. 2006, p.15-16

TV chef Jamie Oliver turned the spotlight on poor quality school meals. Many councils argue that they had already done a lot to improve meals before his intervention. Surveys by Unison reveals some progress, but more needs to be done to provide, good, affordable school meals.

M. Stephen

Daily Telegraph, February 15th 2006, p.16

The country’s complicated and patched up education policy is an inevitable consequence of the debate being dominated by the ideological baggage and election campaigning of transient, party political government. Conscious of the practical problems but mindful of the need for long-term continuity in education, the author argues that policy making should be taken away from the government, who would simply ensure funding, and given to educators and parents in what is essentially a service industry.

Committee of Public Accounts

London: TSO, 2005 (House of Commons papers, session 2005/6; HC 565)

The introduction of Local Management of Schools (LMS) in 1990 changed the way in which schools in Northern Ireland are funded and managed by allowing Boards of Governors and school principals the autonomy to make decisions on resource allocation and priorities. They now control 70% of all money spent on school children. The report reviews progress to date concentrating on the issues of: the effectiveness of the delegation of financial responsibility to schools; the exercise of control over financial planning and management in schools; and the extent to which management of resources by schools has been subject to evaluation and has achieved its objectives. The Report contains formal minutes and oral and written evidence.

L. Lightfoot

Daily Telegraph, January 27th 2006, p.6

Children in poor areas and those in lower ability classes are most likely to be taught maths and science by teachers without specialist qualifications according to a government commissioned study of staffing at a quarter of secondary schools. The government is accused of complacency as the findings support fears about poor achievement in these subjects.

Power parents rule, OK?

K. Leason

Community Care, Jan.19th-25th 2006, p.28-29

More parental choice and control over how children are educated is a flagship policy of the Labour government’s third term in office. While better educated, more confident parents will be able to work the new system to their advantage, those from vulnerable groups may be unable to effectively exercise the rights they have been given. Greater school choice could also exacerbate social divisions, as middle class parents may avoid schools with high numbers of particular children such as those from ethnic minorities.

M. Taylor

Guardian, February 6th 2006, p.11

Parents taking children out of school, boredom, having fun, hanging out and hangovers are amongst the most frequently cited reasons for truancy according to a survey by Smart Technologies. Recently reported as out of control by government, truancy has attracted £885m of investment in ineffective initiatives in the last seven years according to a Commons Committee. While a teachers’ representative highlights the lack of educational tradition in families and the complexity of the truancy problem, around 7,500 parents are taken to court each year.

M. Taylor

Guardian, February 20th 2006, p.33

The handover of publicly owned, democratically accountable schools to private organisations who are unaccountable, able to own the schools, and choose both senior staff and the school ethos, is seen by some labour rebels as the hitherto little discussed but final big issue of the Education Bill debate.

L. Lightfoot

Daily Telegraph, February 9th 2006, p. 1&2

University admissions tutors claim that schools are spoon-feeding pupils preparing for public examinations to ensure that they get good grades so that the school maintains its position in the league tables.  They blame this culture for declining numeracy, literacy, basic study skills, subject knowledge and capacity for independent thought among school leavers. Industry has also complained, but this is a first for universities.

A. Blair

Times, February 17th 2006

A report by researchers at Edinburgh University suggests that comprehensive schooling has helped children from poorer families get into university, but has not improved their social mobility.  A working class child who gets top grades in public examinations and a university degree has the same advantages as a middle class child.  However, middle class parents can use their social contacts, money and experience to boost their children’s life chances even if their exam results are poor.

C. Hardy

Daily Telegraph, February 10th 2006, p.24

An obsession with youth and their rights has led to a situation where teachers are held accountable for their students’ academic attainment rather than pupils being responsible for themselves according to this article. Mr. Hardy blames government interference and hopes universities do not fall into the same mire as schools.

J. Boone

Financial Times, February 20th 2006, p.2

Lack of control over curriculum, staff pay, and the ability to improve teaching quality and offer personalised learning, will lead to the failure of plans to raise standards by granting limited new freedoms to state schools, according to girls schools’ representative Despontin who writes in the Financial Times today.

[See also Financial Times, February 2nd 2006, p.17 for main article]

W. Woodward

Education Guardian, February 15th 2006, p1. & 2.

No further compromise on schools reform appears likely from Prime Minister Tony Blair who, in this interview, argues against banning selection in grammar and religious schools. Resolute in his commitment to provide a choice of good schools for all parents, he argues against predictable accusations of betraying party tradition by pointing out the risk that Conservatives could succeed on the back of pioneering Labour ground work.Concessions already made to critics include: continued right of local authorities to build schools; ban on child interviews for selection and 2 yearly review of the new system

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