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

T. Halpin

Times, March 30th 2006, p.8

While academies lag behind the national average in GCSE results, and in English, Maths and Science tests for eleven year olds, GCSE results are better than predicted in fourteen academies based on pupils’ achievement in tests at eleven. The article reports on a study published today and provides comments from pro and anti academy camps.

R. Smithers

Guardian, March 30th 2006, p. 10

Half of city academies are amongst the 200 worst schools in the key stage three test result tables. While supportive comment reminds readers that the academies started in a very poor position owing to low standards in the schools they replace, a call for abandonment of the £5bn programme is also heard.

M. Taylor

Guardian, April 25th 2006, p.11

A think tank advising wealthy donors has warned that there is too little evidence to determine whether academies are sound investments or not. The article looks at the background to the academies and at figures for building costs and for donors’ contributions.

L. Lightfoot

Daily Telegraph, April 13th 2006, p.13

Schools with “satisfactory” and below Ofsted inspections may be subject to major interventions from executive managers, which, the article states, departs significantly from white paper and Education Bill proposals. Schools felt by local councils to be making comparatively poor progress will reportedly be required to produce rescue plans in fifteen days. Those whose plans fail to impress councils will have a twenty four hour deadline before teams are sent in.

[See also Daily Telegraph April 14th 2006, p.2; Times, April 14th 2006, p.36; Guardian, April 14th 2006 p.9]

A. Cooke

Daily Telegraph, March 29th 2006, p.12

As Tony Blair is thwarted in his attempts at education reform by dissent within the Labour Party, the article recommends that he should take the opportunity presented by the Charity Bill to press for lower fees and means-tested bursaries as features of public benefit tests for independent schools. This would attract investment from business and third sector donors according to this article, which comments on the politics and oversight of schools.

A. Grice

Independent, March 24th 2006, p.11

Raising state school funding so that spend per pupil equals that in private schools is a long-term goal, Chancellor Gordon Brown is reported to have acknowledged. Raising the annual spend per state pupil from £5,000 to £8,000, a central proposal of the budget, is unrealistically ambitious for a single tax rise according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies and unlikely to benefit today’s pupils.

[See also Times, March 24th 2006, p.29; Guardian, March 24th 2006, p. 32; Daily Telegraph, March 24th 2006 City p. 5]

M. Rogers

Community Care, March 30th - Apr.5th 2006, p.36-37

Article looks at the implications of Labour’s Education Bill 2006 for disadvantaged children. Some provisions are welcomed, including a tougher admissions code and the banning of interviews as part of the admissions process, extended free transport for children from poor families to their three nearest secondary schools, and the extension of nutritional standards to all food and drink provided in schools. On the other hand there is no reduction in pressure on schools to protect their league table position in what remains a quasi-market. Argues that there will be a role for local authorities in acting as champions for the disadvantaged, ensuring fair access to all schools and monitoring the progress of disadvantaged groups within their schools.

Literacy crises and reading policies: children still can’t read!

J. Soler and R. Openshaw

London: Routledge, 2006

This critical study examines the issues underpinning current debates over ‘falling literacy standards’. It argues that the ‘problem’ of how to teach reading needs to be reconceptualised as part of a social phenomenon. It discusses how reading practices and the teaching of reading arise from social activity which is in turn shaped by historical, social and political contexts.

R. Garner

Independent, April 15th 2006, p.18

Leaders of the National Union of Teachers will seek to enlist the support of parents to block attempts to hand over control of schools to private sponsors. They are urging MPs to back an amendment to the Education Bill which will give parents the right to vote to veto any attempts to change a school’s status.

[See also Guardian, April 15th, 2006, p.15; Times, April 15th 2006, p.28]

S. Cassidy

Independent, April 27th 2006, p.20

Concerned about children’s readiness for school at age 5, Education Secretary Ruth Kelly has announced new attainment targets for five-year-olds in maths, reading, writing, creativity and physical coordination. The targets are summarised here along with criticism about labelling children as failures, ignoring varying developmental rates, disaffection following the too early introduction of formal learning, and concerns about time required for the tests’ administration.

Education and Skills Committee

London: TSO, 2006 (House of Commons papers, session 2005/06; HC479)

This report arises from the Committee’s annual examination of DfES expenditure and management of resources. It looks, in particular, at the overall pattern of spending on education and skills, further changes to the schools’ funding system and the Department’s plans for efficiency savings under the Gershon process. The growth in total expenditure on education and skills will slow down significantly in the future.

A. Blair

Times, April 4th 2006, p. 13

Payments to special funds may be required of independent schools to cover costs and ensure continuity in the event of closure following bankruptcy for example. Closures that disrupt pupils lives are exemplified in this article.

T. Shifrin

Public Finance, March 31st - Apr. 6th 2006, p.26-28

Self-governing trust schools are New Labour’s latest idea for education reform in England. They would be publicly funded but run by businesses, charities and faith groups acting through a trust with charitable status, rather than by local education authorities (LEAs). They would appoint their own staff and take ownership of their assets. LEAs would have a commissioning role, putting the creation of new schools out to tender by interested trusts. There is concern about the extent of the influence external sponsors would have over the curriculum and the management of the school.

E. Thomas and G. Morgan

Mental Health Today, Apr.2006, p.30-32

STIGMA is a project which aims to raise awareness of mental health issues among secondary school children in the Highlands through drama, workshops and classroom discussions. It uses interactive drama to address a range of mental health issues in the context of the lives of young people, including depression, self-harm and suicide.

R. Garner

Independent, April 11th 2006, p.13

An outdated curriculum and tests at ages 7, 11 and 14 have been attacked by a teachers’ association. Less prescription, studying the causes of battles rather than their dates, and replacing the focus on traditional subjects such as history and geography with ranges of skills are cited as proposals,

[See also Financial Times, April 11th 2006 p.4]

R. Garner

Independent, April 10th 2006, p.151

Following research that suggests well mannered teachers and fair play are more effective than strict discipline, a member of the government’s school discipline inquiry will propose exaggerated politeness from teachers, and good behaviour rewards

R. Garner

Independent, April 7th 2006, p. 25

The expansion of faith schools is leading to segregation and potential ethnic conflict according to a forthcoming warning from a teachers’ union which fears the take over of city academies by fundamentalist religious organisations.

[See also Guardian, April 7th 2006 p. 9; Times, April 12th 2006, p.28; Independent, April 12th 2006 p. 8]

R. Smithers

Guardian, April 10th 2006, p.11

The General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers argues that the government’s Education Bill could lead to the segregation of poor children in sink schools for the underclass. The pressure that the reforms will place on schools to compete for the best pupils will result in the poor being educated in schools that are shunned by the middle classes. The flagship city academies programme is also criticised for failing to deliver higher standards.

[See also Times, April 10th 2006, p.16; Financial Times, April 10th 2006, p.4]

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