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Welfare Reform on the Web (August 2007): Education - UK - schools

Building successful partnerships: lessons from the Specialist Schools Achievement Programme (SSAP)

T. Allen

School Leadership and Management, vol. 27, 2007, p.301-312

Current UK education policy favours collaborative models of school improvement. This article explores the potential for school improvement through a specific partnership initiative involving specialist secondary schools in England. Findings are based on interview data collected from nine partnerships involving twenty schools from the Specialist Schools Achievement Programme (SSAP). The article highlights key barriers and facilitators of partnership as a tool for improvement and reflects critically on wider implications of partnership in the context of specialist schooling in the UK and the role of partnership in system-wide change.

Co-leaders and middle leaders: the dynamic between leaders and followers in networks of schools

M. Hadfield

School Leadership and Management, vol. 27, 2007, p.259-283

This paper sets out to explore the nature of leadership within networks of schools. The empirical data are drawn from a series of programme-wide research and enquiry activities that took place over the first two years of a large-scale funded initiative in the UK involving over 100 school networks. Drawing on school leadership and social movement theory it analyses the practices of strategic network leaders and the overall growth of leadership capacity within school networks, exploring the interaction between groups of leaders and the dynamics of their relationship. In doing so it raises the question of whether leadership of school networks is qualitatively different from leading a school and examines the emergent leadership challenges offered by an education system that is increasingly becoming networked.

Forwards or backwards? Revised guidance on behaviour and exclusion from school

J. Thomas

ChildRight, issue 237, 2007, p. 24-28

Present government guidance states that permanent exclusion from school should be a last resort and should only be used when all other measures have been tried and have failed. Statistics, however, suggest that many schools are resorting to permanent exclusion too readily and without regard to the guidance. The government has recently issued draft revised guidance for consultation, which is intended to take account of changes introduced by the Education and Inspections Act 2006. This article assesses the proposed changes to the existing guidance and the likely impact on children in relation to two main issues: unofficial exclusions and the treatment of children with special educational needs and/or disabilities.

Leadership in networked learning communities: defining the terrain

L. Earl and S. Katz

School Leadership and Management, vol. 27, 2007, p.239-258

This article describes results related to leadership that emerged from a series of studies commissioned by the Networked Learning Group of the National College of School Leadership. The studies drew on the experiences of the Networked Learning Communities (NLC) Programme, with a view to informing the work of other groups and agencies in England and beyond which are incorporating networking into their educational change efforts. The focus of the evaluation was not on the effects of the NLC Programme as a separate entity, but on identifying promising features and processes being implemented in NLCs and NLC schools and ascertaining the importance of these features to the success of educational networks generally.

Participation in network learning community programmes and standards of pupil achievement: does it make a difference?

P. Sammons and others

School Leadership and Management, vol. 27, 2007, p.213-238

This paper analyses national assessment and examination data sets in England in order to test the claim that networked learning activity contributes to raising standards of attainment. Results for primary and secondary schools involved in the Networked Learning Communities (NLC) programme in England are compared with the national patterns for all schools across 2003-2005. Results indicate that improvement patterns for NLC schools are generally in line with the rising national trend, although there is a good deal of variation between individual schools. There is no convincing evidence that NLC primary schools have improved more rapidly in relation to the national trend, while there are some indications that NLC secondary schools have shown greater improvement than the national average for Key Stage 3 English, but not in maths and science. The article also examines perceptions of the NLC programme among its participants and concludes that most practitioners (particularly heads and deputy heads) view the scheme positively in terms of the professional learning promoted and the impact on pupil engagement and motivation, but its influence on pupil attainment and behaviour is viewed with considerable scepticism. The paper concludes that networked learning enhances professional practice, but that caution should be exercised in claiming it raises attainment.

The provision of educationally focused parenting programmes in England

S. Hallam and others

European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol.22, 2007, p. 307-326

The Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003 introduced new powers for local authorities to apply for a parenting order to help address children's behaviour in school. A parenting order compels a parent to attend a parenting programme and fulfil other requirements deemed necessary by the court for improving their child's behaviour. This paper reports the extent to which local authorities have access to or provide educationally related parenting programmes in England and the nature of that provision, including infrastructure, organisation and funding; the set up of programmes and referral systems; participants and dropouts; types of programmes; programme content and follow up; evaluation; staff training; and difficulties experienced in providing such programmes and for parents in accessing them.

School exclusions in England: Save the Children's 'EAR' to Listen project

C. Rees

ChildRight, issue 237, 2007, p. 19-23

The 2004/05 exclusion statistics revealed that 9,440 pupils had been permanently and 389,560 temporarily expelled from schools in England. In addition, a significant number of children are unofficially (or illegally) excluded from school every year. This article looks at the practice of exclusion, its impact on young people's right to education, and the potential of advocacy to improve outcomes for excluded young people.

Screening and searching pupils for weapons: new guidance for school staff

K. Anderson

ChildRight, issue 237, 2007, p. 14-18

The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 grants schools the power to search pupils for weapons in all maintained schools in England and Wales. Guidance on how these powers should be implemented came into force on May 31st 2007. This article uses the Children's Legal Centre's comments on the draft version of this guidance to assess the likely impact of the new powers on children's rights and welfare. It raises concerns about potential inconsistencies with human rights provisions, possible discriminatory application of the powers, and child safety. It highlights the need to prioritise more constructive, sustainable solutions to deter and prevent children from carrying weapons.

Suitable and efficient

R. Dobson

ChildRight, issue 237, 2007, p. 6-9

Home education is a choice that an increasing number of parents in the UK are making for their children, either due to negative experiences of mainstream schooling or because of religious or philosophical convictions. This article considers the reality of home education, the law relating to it, and government involvement in it, including new draft guidance that has been issued for local authorities, and proposals from quarters to begin regulation of what has been traditionally a very independent sector.

Teenagers 'will rebel if forced to stay on in school'

G. Patton

The Daily Telegraph, 31st July, 2007, p.6

Geraldine Everett, chairman of the Professional Association of Teachers, has criticised government plans to extend compulsory education to the age of 18. Everett believes that forcing teenagers to stay in education after 16 will increase truancy and disruption to the learning of others. She said that it was symptomatic of Tony Blair's educational legacy, which had turned schools into 'mere exam factories'.

(See also: The Independent, 31st July, 2007, p.11; The Times , 31st July, 2007, p.10)

Working together to improve urban secondary schools: a study of practice in one city

M. Ainscow and A. Howes

School Leadership and Management, vol. 27, 2007, p.285-300

Bringing about school improvement in economically poor urban contexts remains a major challenge. In England the emphasis on competition between schools has further complicated this agenda. At the same time, there is evidence of the emergence of a new policy emphasis that involves support and challenge to school-led improvement efforts through collaboration with other schools. This paper provides an evaluative account of an attempt to use such processes of networking across all secondary schools in one city. The study suggests that schools working together can contribute to the raising of aspirations and attainment in schools that have previously had a record of low achievement, but that this is never a straightforward process schools are complex organisations, and collaboration between them involves the orchestration of action and purpose at many levels. The paper concludes that the successful use of such approaches involves dealing with a number of challenging dilemmas, and draws out the implications for policy development.

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