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

Conservative Party education policies 1976-1997: the influence of politics and personality

D. Callaghan

Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2006

During the period from 1979 to1997 the successive Conservative governments introduced a series of radical reforms in the field of education. The most important of these was the Education Reform Act 1988 with its twin pillars: the introduction of a national curriculum and Grant Maintained schools. The book discusses how the competition and conflict between three groups of individuals, the irregulars (think tanks, pressure groups and advisers), the regulars (DES officials) and the politicos (Secretaries of State, their advisers and junior ministers), led to the development of particular policies.

Developing leadership teams within an EAZ network: what makes for success?

A. Dering, S. Cunningham and K. Whitby

School Leadership and Management, vol. 26, 2006, p.107-123

Leadership development and the creation of school networks are two major strands of the government’s reform agenda for education. This study examines the use of a senior team leadership development programme as a catalyst for change and a vehicle for supporting school improvement across an Education Action Zone. The programme aimed to equip senior teams from each school with a shared language of leadership and of organizational effectiveness that could form the basis of new thinking within and between schools and help raise standards of pupil achievement within the zone.

Educational leadership: ambiguity, professionals and managerialism

E. Hoyle and M. Wallace

London: Sage, 2005

Focusing on school leadership and management, the book suggests that major reforms have had limited successes because the changes introduced have diverted school staff from their core task of promoting student learning, resulting in dissatisfaction, frustration and stress. The authors argue that a more temperate approach to leadership and management supported by wise policy-making can create structures that take the strain and reduce stress, encourage autonomy, and sponsor moderate experimentation and innovation emerging from communities of professional practice.

Extended schools: education facilities for the community

D. de Barra

ChildRight, issue 225, 2006, p.20-23

By 2010, English schools will be required to offer:

  1. High quality wraparound childcare available from 8.00am to 6.00pm all the year round
  2. A varied menu of study support activities
  3. Parenting support including family learning
  4. Swift and easy referral to a wide range of support services such as speech therapy
  5. Wider community access to school facilities in the areas of sports, ICT and arts

This agenda has been widely welcomed by schools and local authorities and is geared to provide support to enable disadvantaged children and families to succeed in the broadest sense.

Fee-paying schools face challenge to charity tax break

A. Frean

Times, May 2nd 2006, p.4

Private schools face a new battle to preserve their charitable status in the face of a campaign by a coalition of charities and MPs to amend the Charities Bill so as to put an end to the tax break that keeps most of them in business. Campaigners want a tougher definition of public benefit in the Bill to challenge private school wishing to retain their charitable status to clearly demonstrate how they operate in the public interest.

Half a million pupils do not have a head teacher

R. Garner

Independent, April 29th 2006, p.13

A survey by an association representing 28,000 head teachers shows more than a thousand schools operating without a full-time leader, a high prevalence of stress and sickness, and many heads having to take extra classes to cover teachers’ contracted time off. Tensions between the association and the government over withdrawal from the agreement, which allows teachers time off lessons for preparation and marking, are also reported.

[See also Daily Telegraph, April 29th 2006, p.1&6]

Heads want pupils to play truant in battle over tests

L. Lightfoot

Daily Telegraph, May 1st 2006, p.8

“Teaching to test” and league tables are “seriously distorting” the curriculum according to a union leader who warns of industrial action and tactics which include encouraging test boycotts by parents and pupils.

[See also Independent, May 1st 2006, p.4; Guardian, May 1st 2006, p.12; Times, May 1st 2006, p.4]

Improving poorly performing schools in England

National Audit Office

London: TSO, 2006 (House of Commons papers, session 2005/06; HC679)

In 2004-05, around £837 million was spent in England through a range of national programmes to help improve schools that were failing or at risk of failing. This report focuses on : 1) whether enough is being done to identify and support schools that show signs of deteriorating performance; 2) whether effective measures are being taken to address poor performance; and 3) whether ‘recovered’ schools continue to improve and do not start too fail again. It assesses the success of national initiatives and local action, and highlights good practice from which all schools can learn.

Improving schools in exceptionally challenging circumstances: tales from the frontline

A. Harris and others

London: Continuum, 2006

Many approaches to improving schools in difficulty have concentrated upon fixing the problems within the school while ignoring the broader contextual factors that compound these problems. Income, social class, ethnicity and gender all impact upon pupil’s motivation levels and their predisposition to learning and educational achievement. This book provides an account of a government–funded programme of intervention specifically aimed at schools in the exceptionally challenging contexts. The OCTET project attempted to generate and develop an innovative improvement programme in conjunction with a small group of schools. The project’s main message is one of building capacity through empowering, involving and developing teachers to deliver high quality teaching, and through providing systems of learning support, guidance and assistance to ensure learning is maximized.

Improving schools through external intervention

C. Chapman

London: Continuum, 2005

The book offers an account of the impact of various forms of external intervention upon the improvement of schools in challenging circumstances. It gives important insights into the limitations of externally prescribed solutions in offsetting the powerful effects of socio-economic conditions. It highlights how even the most effective forms of intervention tend to have a differential effect on schools simply because of the sheer variation in their contexts. It also argues that blanket solutions to improving schools in difficulty are at best misguided and at worst damaging because they can destabilize the school by placing additional and unrealistic demands upon teachers. It concludes that a more context-specific programmes of intervention are required that take into account the particular factors and features of individual schools.

Primary schools have 29,000 pupils in classes of over 30

R. Smithers

Guardian, April 28th 2006, p.14

Contravening 2001 legislation and a 1997 Labour Party election pledge, 2.1% of five, six and seven year-olds in English schools are taught in classes of more than thirty pupils. The article provides comments from government, opposition and a teachers’ representative.

[See also Times, April 28th 2006 p.10; Independent, April 28th 2006, p.4&5]

Schools face new rules to balance ethnic mixture

D. Charter

Times, May 3rd 2006, p.11

A proposed schools admissions code, responding to fears about selection, would require a balanced social and ethnic mix that reflects the local community. The proposals, criticised for being over prescriptive and administratively burdensome, prohibit enquiry into the financial, employment and marital status of parents, or into children’s behaviour. Comments from critics and the Department for Education and Skills are provided.

Schools risk becoming babysitters, say heads

M. Taylor

Guardian, May 2nd 2006, p. 12

Proposals for keeping schools open for ten hours a day are badly thought out and carry worrying financial implications according to a head teachers’ leader. Schools risk becoming a babysitting service, adding to worries about the impact of poor parenting.

Schools Bill advances despite growing rebellion

A. Grice and B. Russell

The Independent, 24 May 2006, p.16

A proposed amendment to the Education and Inspections Bill that demanded compulsory ballots for parents before reforms could be implemented has been defeated by 412 votes to 121. The amendment was proposed by 69 ‘rebel’ Labour MPs and required that parents should be balloted before community schools were placed under the control of independently run trusts.

Shabina Begum: judgement on right to education

L. Barrie

ChildRight, issue 225, 2006, p.6-7

Comments on the House of Lords judgement in the case of Shabina Begum, who claimed that her rights to education and religious freedom had been violated by the refusal of her school to allow her to wear a jilbab, a traditional loose Muslim dress covering her legs, to school. The House of Lords found that Begum’s right to education had not been violated because she could have attended another local school at which she could have worn the jilbab.

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