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

14-19 diplomas

Education and Skills Committee

London: TSO, 2007 (House of Commons papers, session 2006/07; HC 249)

The government describes these diplomas, which are to be rolled out between 2008 and 2013, as charting a middle course between vocational and academic learning, but there are concerns that those developing them do not share a common understanding of what they are for or what kinds of learning they will involve. Two key challenges have emerged: firstly, there is a need to ensure that the diplomas contain sufficient practical content to enthuse those ill-served by existing academic programmes; and secondly, parents, students, employers and higher education institutions need to be convinced of their value. Successful diploma delivery will require close collaboration between schools, colleges and local employers, as no one institution working alone is likely to be able to offer the full entitlement. Appropriate workforce development will also be vital to the Diplomas' success.

Assessing the social and affective outcomes of inclusion

N. Frederickson and others

British Journal of Special Education, vol. 34, 2007, p. 105-115

Pupils who have special educational needs may be at risk of peer rejection, bullying and teasing in mainstream schools. This paper aims to describe measures of peer group inclusion, social behaviour, bullying, and feelings of belonging at school and to report how they have been used in evaluating social and affective outcomes of an innovative inclusion programme. The programme involved a special school inclusion team and 14 mainstream schools working together to support 14 Key Stage 2 pupils who had moved from special to mainstream schools. Results showed that pupils who had transferred from special to mainstream schools experienced positive social outcomes and none experienced peer group rejection. However, results were less positive for mainstream pupils with SEN.

Balls starts his education in 21st century schooling

V. Russell

Public Finance, July 20th-26th 2007, p. 12-13

This article comments on the new curriculum for 11-14-year-old pupils in English secondary schools. The new curriculum should free up around a quarter of the school day and give teachers more discretion over what to teach. While the curriculum continues to include traditional material such as the study of Shakespeare and British history, new subjects are introduced such as the 'economically useful' languages of Mandarin and Urdu. Pupils will also be coached in life skills such as personal financial management and cooking.

Born to be great: a Charter on promoting the achievement of black Caribbean boys

National Union of Teachers

Race Equality Teaching, vol. 25, Summer 2007, p.23-35

Following on from a series of roundtable discussions in 2006 and early 2007 the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has published a Charter for promoting the achievement of black Caribbean boys. While the NUT acknowledges there has been a reduction in the attainment gap between black Caribbean children, particularly boys, and others, it remains the case that their attainment at GCSE is well below the national average in England and Wales. The NUT recognises that teachers have a key role in tackling discrimination, promoting equal opportunities in schools and creating a positive school environment for all pupils. The roundtable discussions, chaired by Professor Gus John, involved teachers, pupils, parents/carers and experts. The outcome is the Charter, which is based on a rights and responsibilities approach and aims to build consensus between the various stakeholders and a common understanding on the issue. In particular, the Charter outlines the entitlements and responsibilities of pupils, schools (including teachers), governors, black teachers and parents/carers and the community.

Building on the 'Best' way for schools

S. Vevers

Community Care, Aug. 9th 2007, p. 16-17

The government has announced that it will invest 60m in improving mental health services in schools over the next three years. This article presents the views of experts on how the money should be spent. There is a consensus that there should be investment in multi-agency teams which intervene at the first signs of problems and work with parents and carers as well as children. There are also calls for teachers to be trained to deal with mental health problems.

Getting it, getting it right: A British Caribbean view of the Wanless Report

G. Gordon

Race Equality Teaching, vol. 25, Summer 2007, p.9-14

The Wanless Report: Getting it, getting it right (DfES, 2007) identifies symptoms of an ongoing problem for teachers and their relationship with black children in the British school system. Teachers are once again left feeling blamed and outraged (This is London, 2006), despite the fact that they are simply transmitting embedded cultural values encapsulated in the idea of 'institutional racism' as identified by Macpherson (1999). These deep cultural values are discussed in this article and the author concedes that, as an educator and member of British society, she and many others unconsciously collude in perpetuating the racial status quo and thus the disenfranchisement of black people in general. Lindsay, Pathers and Sands (2006) contend that black children are not a homogeneous group and stress the need to distinguish the different needs of the different groups of black pupils as an important area for research. This paper focuses on Caribbean children (defined as the descendants of enslaved Africans) as a group, and considers their specific situation.

Promoting real antiracism policies and ways of working in schools

W. Willmer

Race Equality Teaching, vol. 25, Summer 2007, p.35-39

The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 gives public authorities, including schools, a statutory general duty to promote race equality and the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) has been instructed to make judgements about the way schools are promoting it. However, it is all too easy to pay lip service to the RRAA in the absence of clear guidance as to how antiracism should actually inform day to day classroom practice. This two-year research project in a large infant school in the 36th most deprived local authority in England aimed to identify the issues for parents, children and teachers with a view to establishing real antiracism policies and ways of working in school to promote racial equality. This study was triggered by concern among teaching staff that the increase in numbers of African and Caribbean boys was linked to the rise in challenging behaviour in the school.

Reconsidering the role of the primary special educational needs co-ordinator: policy, practice and future priorities

C. Szwed

British Journal of Special Education, vol. 34, 2007, p. 96-104

The British government has sought to define the role of the special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCo) through a revised code of practice and national standards. Although the title of special educational needs co-ordinator is of somewhat recent origin, the role has been developing and growing over the past 30 years. This paper considers some of the changes within the role and reports the findings of a small-scale study of its management within primary schools. The study showed clearly that the role of the SENCo cannot be generalised. SENCos work in a wide variety of situations within the primary school where there are considerable variations in time allocated for the role; in the status of the role; and in the human and financial resources available to the SENCo. SENCOs may not be able to operate in the tightly prescribed common frameworks laid down by the Code of Practice and the standards documents.

What should schools and local authorities be doing about institutional racism?

C. Parsons and S. Hepburn

Race Equality Teaching, vol. 25, Summer 2007, p.16-21

The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) funded research to investigate the implementation of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 (RRAA) (Parsons et al, 2005) in relation to school exclusions. The report concluded that, 'The disproportionalities, in terms of exclusion and attainment, are institutionally racist outcomes routinely produced as a matter of organisational practice' (p108) and the Wanless Report, Getting it, getting it right (DfES, 2007) confirms this. To be beyond any possibility of a charge of institutional racism, and to implement fully the RRAA, schools and local authorities can be expected to take steps in four key areas: recruitment, curriculum, monitoring and positive action. This article sets out the bare details of the RRAA and guidance from the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE). The authors consider the role of local authorities and central government and examine the four areas of specific action identified.

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