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Welfare reform on the Web (December 2006): Education - UK - schools

Because you’re worth it

T. Shifrin

Public Finance, Oct.13th-19th 2006, p.18-21

This article presents an overview of government efforts to raise school standards through private sector involvement in education. It focuses on the controversial academies programme, under which private sector sponsors have a large role in the governance and management of schools. Most sponsors are in practice wealthy individuals, rather than businesses as intended.

Challenging underachievement in boys

G. Lindsay and D. Muijs

Educational Research, vol.48, 2006, p.313-332

This paper reports on the attempt of one local education authority in East London to challenge underachievement of Black Caribbean, Black African and White UK-born boys. Multi-level modelling was used to identify three primary and three secondary schools producing results above expectations. Visits were made to each school to explore the reasons for success. No single approach was taken by the schools visited. One approach emphasised insisting on equally high standards for all groups and not targeting any one specifically. The other approach involved specifically targeting specific underperforming groups. Other factors identified as being helpful in overcoming relative underachievement in the three groups were: a broad, diverse and relevant curriculum; tracking the performance of individual pupils; high expectations of pupil achievement; an inclusive ethos; encouragement of parent involvement; and high proportions of teachers from minority ethnic groups.

Education and Inspections Act 2006

London: TSO, 2006

This Act gives local authorities a new strategic role including:

  • Duties to promote choice, diversity, high standards and the fulfilment of potential for every child
  • A duty to respond to parental concerns about the quality of local schools
  • Acting as a decision maker on school organisation matters
  • Providing positive activities for young people, so that they have a range of exciting things to do in their spare time
  • Appointing School Improvement Partners for maintained schools

The Act will also:

  • Create a power for staff to discipline pupils
  • Extend the scope of parenting orders and contracts
  • Improve provision for excluded pupils
  • Merge several existing inspectorates into a single inspectorate to cover the full range of services for children and young people.

Educational failure and working class white children in Britain

G. Evans

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006

The book examines educational failure in white working class neighbourhoods, like Bermondsey, South East London, in terms of discrepancies between what is expected of children at school and what is required of them at home and on the street. Ethnographic investigation of the ’common’ manners that differentiate Bermondsey people and their children makes possible comparison with what is required for educational success. Equal emphasis is given to explaining how ‘sink schools’ fail working class children.

More than half of secondary schools are failing pupils

R. Garner

The Guardian, Nov. 23rd 2006, p.21

The annual Ofsted report has stated that UK schools are failing to deliver a good standard of education. 13% of secondary schools are described as ‘inadequate’ and 38% were described a not entirely desirable ‘satisfactory’. Primary schools are following the trend with 7% of schools described as ‘inadequate’, compared to 4% in 2005. The article makes a point of Ofsted’s director Christine Gilbert’s close links to the Labour government as the political backdrop to a report which can be viewed as indictment against Labour education policies. Conservatives and Liberal Democract MPs are viewing it as such and see this as confirmation of Labour’s failure in education. Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association for Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers has called on Ofsted to ‘abandon its fascination with failure’ and adopt a more encouraging approach. She says “Year-on-year comparisons are meaningless as each year the goalposts change”.

Policies on special needs education: competing strategies and discourses

E. Kay, M. Tisdall and S. Riddell

European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol.21, 2006, p.363-379

In the past decade official policy discourse for children with special educational needs in Scotland has moved towards inclusion. This can be traced through government documentation, ministerial speeches and the reports of Parliamentary committees. Three approaches to inclusion can be identified: 1) the individualised approach of supporting or changing the child; 2) the systems approach of making schools inclusive for all; and 3) the anti-discrimination or civil rights approach of challenging the mainstream.

School inspection and self-evaluation: working with the new relationship

J. MacBeath

London: Routledge, 2006

The New Relationship with Schools is the Government’s new initiative promising to allow schools greater freedom, to free them to define clearer priorities for themselves, get rid of bureaucracy and build better links with parents. This book examines in turn each aspect of the ‘New Relationship’, its potential strengths and some of its inherent weaknesses. It also covers:

  • Issues that confront school leaders and classroom teachers, including Every Child Matters
  • Advice on how schools can marry ongoing self-evaluation with Ofsted’s expectations
  • Web sources for self-evaluation
  • Tensions between accountability and improvement
  • Approaches to help teachers embed self-evaluation in day-to-day classroom practice.

Schooling, society and curriculum

A. Moore (editor)

London: Routledge, 2006

The book seeks to return curriculum studies to critical, generic debates about formal education and its relationships to the wider society. It looks at key curriculum debates that have been present since formal state education began and reassesses them in the context of current curricular trends and policies. It then focuses on some of the key emerging issues of the twenty-first century, including:

  • ‘Globalization’ and reconstructed nationalism
  • A revived interest and understanding of what it means to be a good citizen
  • Developments in the areas of cultural pluralism
  • The rapid development of digital technology and its impact on learning
  • Changing relationship between the ‘state’ and the ‘market’ and their impact on formal education.

Special education, inclusion and democracy

C. Nilholm

European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol.21, 2006, p.431-445

The traditional approach to special needs education can be described as being individually oriented, with roots in psychology and medicine, and primarily aimed at developing better educational methods for diagnostic groups. This article assumes that there are serious problems with the traditional approach and looks at a range of different ways of understanding special education and inclusion, as well as the relationship between the concepts. Given the multiplicity of different positions on the meaning of inclusion and the role of special education, the article goes on to consider how decisions on these matters are to be made and by whom.

Special educational needs and disability

S. Keil, O. Miller and R. Cobb

British Journal of Special Education, vol.33, 2006, p.168-172

This article debates issues relating to the categorisation and labelling of pupils and the use of the terms “special educational needs” and “disability”. It highlights confusion over the use of terms that present different ideological perspectives. Despite the social focus that characterises much of the current discourse about disability, it is frequently regarded as an aspect of special educational needs, an area in which a medical model is often dominant. These confusions benefit neither children with disabilities nor those with less clearly defined difficulties. The authors note recent developments in Scotland, where a new framework based on the concept of additional support needs separates disability from educational need.

Students with special educational needs: transitions from primary to secondary school

P. Maras and E.-L. Aveling

British Journal of Special Education, vol.33, 2006, p.196-203

This article looks at the experiences of young people with Statements of Special Educational Needs prior to and following moves from primary to secondary school. Findings from case studies reveal that young people vary in their expectations and needs during transition, and that schools vary in the efficacy of the support systems they provide. Continuity of support during the transition to a new school, and the provision of a dedicated space, such as a special needs unit, in the school both appeared beneficial. Several of the young people adapted easily alongside their peers without special needs, while others required more structured support. The authors suggest that effective communication between support services, the young person, and the parents can facilitate successful transitions by allowing support to be tailored to individual students’ needs.

Tracing education policy: selections from the Oxford Review of Education

D. Phillips and G. Walford

London: Routledge, 2006

The book brings together key articles from the Oxford Review of Education which trace the development of British education policy since 1975. The articles selected have made an important impact on policy studies and cover a broad range of significant policy issues, including:

  • Equality in education
  • School effectiveness
  • Special educational needs
  • School choice
  • Fourteen to nineteen education
  • The structure of the educational system

The urban primary school

M. Maguire, T. Wooldridge, and S. Pratt-Adams

Maidenhead: Open University, 2006

The book offers an analysis of the unique challenges and contributions of urban primary schools. It sets urban education in the wider social context of structural disadvantage, poverty, oppression and exclusion, and reasserts some critical urban educational concerns. Drawing on the voices of those who currently teach in and manage urban primary schools it considers what it is like to work in these schools. Finally, it calls for a political commitment to eradicate social inequalities and injustices in education.

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