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

S. Jones

Guardian, February 27th 2006, p. 12

The Specialist Schools Trust passes back to schools the names of children excelling at key stage 2 exams in order that schools can be held accountable for ensuring fulfilment of academic potential. The Trust, criticised for “cherry picking” eleven year olds, and turning primary school exams into university entrance tests, will, with parental permission, pass children’s names to universities.

[See also Times, February 27th 2006, p.1 & 2]

R. Gledhill

Times, March 14th 2006, p.11

While rejecting criticisms that church schools pick the brightest and wealthiest students, Archbishop Williams is expected to call for a standardised admissions procedure. A government adviser has causally linked church schools, whose admissions criteria include points for parents’ church attendance, with social selection. Church schools are expected to increase in number by 50 per cent, while General Synod debate on the Education bill is expected in July.

[See also Daily Telegraph, March 14th 2006, p.9]

J. McWhirter

Youth and Policy, No.90, 2006, p.33-41

Headteachers in UK state schools were given powers to introduce random drug tests for pupils in 2004 as part of the “war on drugs”. This punitive measure conflicts with health and education policies which aim to win the hearts and minds of pupils by providing a safe, secure and supportive learning environment in which they can discuss their opinions, views and attitudes towards drugs. It also conflicts with existing evidence on the effectiveness of drug education.

B. Taggart and others

British Journal of Special Educational Needs, vol.33, 2006, p.40-45

Article provides a summary of the findings from the EYSTEN project, reviewing the impact of pre-school provision on children said to be “at risk” of developing special educational needs. The findings suggest that pre-school experience has a positive impact on cognitive attainment and social development and that integrated centres (where education and care are fully combined) have the most positive influence among the different forms of pre-school provision. The paper also discusses the identification of special educational needs, quality in pre-school centres, parents’ perspectives and future developments.

S. Tomlinson

Maidenhead: Open University, 2005

The book provides a critical overview of educational policy over the past sixty years and a discussion of the relationship of policy to class, race, gender and the economy. It demonstrates how a relatively decentralised education system became a system in which funding, teaching, and curriculum are centrally controlled and privatisation encouraged, with education becoming a prop for global market economy rather than a pillar of the welfare state.

R. Garner & S. Cassidy

Independent, February 28th 2006, p. 6

Head teachers’ representatives suggest that there is very little enthusiasm for the proposed trust schools owing to their lack of difference to existing foundation schools, and the fact that a confusing variety of state schools already exists. The article concentrates on why Tony Blair considers the Education Bill vital for the future success of the Labour Party.

F. Lewis

Guardian, March 3rd 2006, p. 6

Advice to ministers from the School Food Trust, setting out new healthy food standards that Education Secretary Ruth Kelly ruled should extend to vending machines despite industry lobbying, is likely to take effect in September 2006. The standards are expected to advise:

  • no confectionery, salted or sugared snacks, or unhealthy drinks to be made available on site
  • free access to fresh, chilled water at all times

[See also Financial Times, March 3rd 2006, p.2; Times, March 3rd 2006, p.1 & 2; Daily Telegraph, March 3rd 2006, p.1]

J Boone

Financial Times, March 1st 2006

Yesterday’s publication of the schools bill without a single mention of “trusts” disappoints free-market thinkers, and represents a major climb down, providing detail on admissions and other compromises. The weeks of rhetoric are baffling according to one source, as the bill collates long established education reforms in an effort which, Blair states, will encourage uptake of existing freedoms.

L. Lightfoot

Daily Telegraph, March 16th 2006, p. 7

Most independent school bursaries and scholarships go to parents of existing pupils according to a government education adviser who proposes additional payments to fund places for poorer children and justify schools’ charitable status.

[See also Times, March 16th 2006, p.30]

R. Garner

Independent, March 10th 2006, p19

Improved standards in one Grimsby school have followed the abandonment of setting by ability, and support for mixed-ability classes where brighter pupils act as role models. The government’s pro-setting stance is seen by the Grimsby head teacher as too crude, while the OECD is expected to report that the approach does not raise standards.

T. Halpin

Times, March 20th 2006, p.28

Government standard-raising funds should be strictly targeted on areas of low achievement rather than being spread indiscriminately around schools in greatest need through myriad schemes according to a direct challenge from the Association of School and College Leaders

M. Green & B. Hall

Financial Times, March 1st 2006, p.2

Formal Tory backing is likely to ease the “timid” Education Bill over its first Commons hurdle, while the shadow Education Secretary talks of “real public service improvement” under a future Conservative government. Moderate critics have indicated support for the watered down bill, and clarification is expected to bring more on board, but opposition votes will be relied upon as a significant revolt is still expected by some. The article outlines five proposals in the bill.

[See also Guardian, March 1st 2006, p.7 & 31; Daily Telegraph, March 1st 2006, p.18, and Times March 1st 2006, p.4]

So what about the children of the poor?

J. Hari

Independent, March 16th 2006, p.14

Neither government nor rebel proposals for education reform properly address the extreme social polarisation in Britain’s schools according to the author. Evidence of educational success in schools with a good social mix underpins the radical idea of a true comprehensive system which would drop parental choice to ensure social balance.

A. Blair

Times, March 21st 2006, p15

An official reading review marks the end of the literacy hour and the “searchlights system”, heralding a return to synthetic phonics in September. The report recommends dedicated teachers to make and “sustain” the change.

[See also Guardian, March 22nd 2006, p.10; Daily Telegraph, March 21st 2006, p.9]

T. Halpin

Times, March 20th 2006, p.28

Twelve months after being declared to be “failing”, Ofsted reports little or no progress at Unity City Academy, one of the first in the recovery programme for struggling comprehensives. The academy’s chief executive is reported as saying that 12 months is an unrealistic rescue time for schools in Unity’s circumstances.

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