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

An appropriate curriculum for 4-5-year-old children in Northern Ireland: comparing play-based and formal approaches

G. Walsh and others

Early Years, vol.26, 2006, p.201-221

This paper reports on an investigation into the quality of the learning experiences of 4-5-year-old children in Northern Ireland schools in the context of the debate about play-based and formal approaches to learning and teaching. The findings from the study indicate that the Enriched Curriculum offers 4-5-year-old children a higher-quality learning experience than that of the more traditional year 1 curriculum. Unlike the latter, which focuses principally on the acquisition of basic skills, this study suggests that the Enriched Curriculum, a combination of developmentally appropriate, play-based and practical teacher-initiated tasks, provides a more appropriate curriculum for this age-group.

City academies win approval, but doubts remain over management

R. Garner and S. Cassidy

The Independent, July 27th 2006, p.13

A study conducted by PriceWaterhouseCooper for ministers gave cautious approval to the government’s academies scheme that introduced the new institutions as replacements for falling inner city schools. Though they are popular with parents and are showing some improvements in exam performance, the report calls for stricter management. Already the first 27 of the proposed 200 flagship academies have cost taxpayers £48.5m more than the anticipated budget.

Do bright children need to be taught separately, and is it good for them?

S. Cassidy
The Independent, July 12th 2006, p.31

Schools Minister Lord Adonis has unveiled a new ‘national register’ of gifted school pupils in the UK. This feature articled discusses the pros and cons of teaching gifted children in isolation from others and the special treatment that these children will be entitled to. The article also tackles the meaning of the rather non-specific ‘gifted’ label.

Improving school attendance in England

Committee of Public Accounts

London: TSO, 2006 (House of Commons papers, session 2005/06; HC789)

The Department for Education and Skills has had two targets for reducing unauthorised absence in schools and has missed both of them. The Committee of Public Accounts has produced this report having examined the Department on the progress made in reducing absence, in identifying and tackling absence where it occurs, and in persuading parents and pupils of the importance of attending school.

Privatizing education in Scotland? New Labour, modernization and “public” services

L. Poole and G. Mooney

Critical Social Policy, vol.26, 2006, p.562-586

This paper examines ways in which New Labour’s public service modernisation agenda, which has at its heart an emphasis on public-private partnerships and an increased role for market-based solutions to poorly performing public services, has impacted on policy making in Scotland. It argues that partnerships between the public and private sector have come to form the centrepiece of New Labour’s modernising agenda for Scottish schools, as exemplified by Glasgow’s Project 2002. This involves the refurbishment of 18 secondaries and the new build of 11 more plus one primary school through privately procured finance, and represents the biggest education public-private partnership in the UK to date.

Race and ethnicity in education

R. Arora

Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005

The book explores issues of race and ethnicity in education and the relationship between policies and practices concerned with equal opportunities, both in schools and in teacher training institutions. The central theme of the book is the preparation of all teachers, through initial training, to implement equal opportunities policies in schools and to provide education for a positively diverse society. A secondary theme is that of the recruitment, training and employment of minority ethnic teachers in British educational institutions.

The role of policy transfer in assessing the impact of American ideas on British social policy

R. Hulme

Global Social Policy, vol.6, 2006, p.173-195

This article assesses the impact of the transfer of ideas from the US and domestic sources on education policy in the UK, primarily in the shape of the development of the evidence-based movement. It is argued that the model of evidence-based practice in education is an “Americanised medical model”. The paper examines the ways in which New Labour has transferred ideas and policies about evidence-based practice from the health sector to education.

Tougher A levels to restore prestige of exam

T. Halpin

The Times, July 15th 2006, p.1

Ken Boston, head of the Government’s examinations regulatory agency, has announced that within two years major changes will be made to A level examinations. Exam questions will be set in a more open ended essay style and an A* grade may be added to the existing grading system.

Transformational school leadership for large-scale reform: effects on students, teachers, and their classroom practices

K. Leithwood and D. Jantzi

School Effectiveness and School Improvement, vol.17, 2006, p.201-227

Using data from a large 4-year evaluation of England’s National Literacy and National Numeracy strategies, this study aimed to test the effects of transformational leadership on teachers (motivation, capacities and work settings), their classroom practices and gains in student achievement. Some 2,290 teachers from 655 primary schools responded to two versions of a survey covering literacy and numeracy. Path analysis showed that transformational leadership had very strong direct effects on teachers’ work settings and motivation with weaker but still significant effects on teachers’ capacities. It also had a moderate and significant effect on classroom practices, but no demonstrable impact on student achievement.

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