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

How very effective primary schools work

C. James and others

London: Paul Chapman, 2006

The authors focus on primary schools in Wales – all of them chosen because there was strong evidence that they were successful schools that served areas and communities that were disadvantaged socially and economically. They studied these very effective schools to find out what they do, how they do it and why it works. At the core of these successful schools, James and his colleagues argue, is effective leadership. This type of leadership focuses on particular values of inclusion and high expectations of achievement, which help to construct a creative and inclusive culture. Another important characteristic of these schools is the way they involve people from their communities in supporting the development of students’ learning.

The privatization of state education: public partners, private dealings

C. Green

London: Routledge, 2005

Overcoming barriers to learning and raising standards of achievement are central efforts in education. In the UK, the government has made education its leading domestic priority and the centre of its drive to improve public services by using the private sector to bring about improvements and to break the status quo. This book clarifies and evaluates a variety of policy initiatives and implementation issues in England and parallel developments elsewhere in the world. Partnership arrangements, sponsorships, new categories of state independent schools and private sector take-overs of schools and education authorities form the patchwork of how state education is becoming privatized. The book seeks to answer the following questions:

  • Will these changes bring more choice and improved standards?
  • How valuable to parents is the information presented in league tables and inspection reports?
  • How will this impact on the future of education?

School Reform Bill sparks volatile debate


Labour Research, vol.95, 2006, p.8-9

The provisions of the Education and Inspection Bill have proved deeply unpopular with trade unions. They oppose the creation of trust schools which will be open to increasing private sector involvement. They are also concerned about the diminished role of local education authorities, who will effectively be confined to commissioning services instead of providing them, and continued selection. The Bill outlaws selection by ability but not selection by aptitude, a distinction not recognised by the unions.

Truants on truancy: a badness or a valuable indicator of unmet special educational needs

N. Southwell

British Journal of Special Education, vol.33, 2006, p.91-97

This paper presents truancy from the truant’s perspective in an effort to illustrate the confused nature of policymakers’ understanding of the problem. Drawing on the existing truancy research literature, the writer’s own experience as a persistent truant, and experientially informed empirical research into truancy, it discusses how this confused understanding has prevented truancy from being successfully addressed and how it might be more advantageously understood in relation to unmet educational needs. In such an understanding, truancy becomes a valuable indicator tool rather than an evil.

“What gets measured gets done”: head teachers’ responses to the English secondary school performance management system

D. Wilson, B. Croxson and A. Atkinson

Policy Studies, vol.27, 2006, p.153-171

English secondary schools operate within a performance management system which includes league tables reporting school performance across a number of indicators. This article reports the results of an interview-based study which shows that head teachers care about their school’s place in the league tables and believe that the system affects their behaviour. The effects that they identify include some “gaming” of the system, such as focusing resources on borderline students whose performance can boost a key indicator: the number of students gaining five A*-Cs at GCSE. The introduction of value-added indicators of student performance may discourage this dysfunctional behaviour.

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