Schools

UK school system bad for children

The Programme for International Student Assessments (PISA) rankings were published on 6 December. These put UK schools in the 20s among the 72 countries surveyed.

Socialists don′t put great store by the PISA ratings, which measure different nations academic achievements by testing 15 and 16 year olds in maths, science and reading. However, the UK’s poor results do demonstrate that, even by their own standards, the Tories model for education is failing.

Whilst not perfect, Finland provides an educational model that is more effective and, more importantly, less harmful to children.

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Ofsted prefers middle-class schools

Author: 

Elizabeth Butterworth

Research on Ofsted points to endemic problems in the schools system and inspection regime. Last week, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) released important findings about the fairness of Ofsted reports in England. They found a “systematic negative correlation” between schools with children from poorer backgrounds or lower prior attainment and positive Ofsted judgments.

Schools across England are facing 8% cuts, or 15% in some inner city areas, and despite valiant campaigns from a few, the fightback against these is nowhere near big enough to succeed. The schools system has been hollowed out by the Tories, and schoolworkers, parents and students must work together to get back some control.

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A vicious circle in schools

Author: 

Gerry Bates

Between half-term of summer 2016 and Xmas 2016, over half the maths teachers in the London secondary school where I teach will have quit.

The maths department is more stable than most. Our science department, for example, went through almost a Year Zero in 2015, with almost a complete turnover of staff. And our school is probably more stable than most in low-income areas of London.

Exams which are mindless drill; school management designed above all to mould teachers and students to that drill; and high teacher turnover are all parts of the same vicious circle.

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Industrial news in brief

Author: 

Ollie Moore, Charlotte Zalens, Peggy Carter and Gemma Short

Station staff on London Underground are balloting for strikes, and industrial action short of strikes, against job cuts.

The ballot begins on 1 November and closes a fortnight later. Both the RMT and TSSA unions are balloting their members. London Underground’s “Fit for the Future” restructure programme on stations has seen nearly 1,000 jobs axed and thousands of workers forcibly regraded and displaced.

Strikes ahead on Tube; Ritzy workers give bosses a fright; Durham teaching assistants plan strikes; Southern workers protest at Parliament; IDS not a friend of workers or claimants; Post Office strike; Uber loses in court.

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Tories drop Education Bill

Author: 

Pat Murphy, National Union of Teachers Executive (personal capacity)

On 27 October, the government announced that it would drop plans for a new Education Bill any time before summer 2017.

In his last budget statement as Chancellor, George Osborne had announced that all schools in England would be forced to convert to academy status by 2022. The following day, 17 March, the then education secretary Nicky Morgan published a White Paper which outlined the variety of ways in which this goal would be achieved.

Labour should commit to bringing all schools back into a democratic locally-run comprehensive education service and ending the academy experiment.

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No to school uniforms!

Author: 

Martin Thomas

Hartsdown Academy, in Kent, sent 50 students home on the first day of term for “incorrect” school uniform.

Nervous 11-year-olds on their first day in big school were turned away because of quibbles about their socks, or buckles on their shoes.Yet the headteacher and the academy chain bosses are defiantly self-righteous. They want to stop the school being “scruffy”.

There is no evidence that wearing costly, awkward, and weird clothes helps learning. School uniforms are unknown in Finland, which comes top in world assessments, and in France and Germany.

School-age children and young people have little enough liberty. Being able to dress as they like is one area where they can have liberty without risk of hurting themselves or anyone else.

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Don’t bring back the 11-plus!

Author: 

Patrick Yarker and Clive Larkin

Any expansion of grammar schools in England will be a mechanism for intensifying social divisions.

The arrival of any new secondary school alters the local educational ecology. The arrival of an entirely selective school has a particularly damaging effect. It drastically recasts the intake of all other schools in an area, and at a stroke turns them, however they are named, into secondary moderns.

Any expansion of grammar schools in England will be a mechanism for intensifying social divisions.

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GCSEs: a pointless misery

Every year, the media report on GCSE and A-level results and how they compare to previous years. Then they forget about until the next August. For students and school workers, however, GCSEs are a constant source of bewildering misery.

Education specialists should be trusted far more to provide assessments of students’ learning, rather than the system relying on an inaccurate “snapshot” in the form of standardised tests. The exam regime acts only as a filter to sift out working class youngsters and has virtually nothing to do with what is best for young people or providing them with socially useful skills.

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“We are the strength behind Corbyn’s leadership”

Momentum activist and teacher trade unionist Laura Rogers spoke at the Jeremy Corbyn rally at Heartlands, Cornwall.

Momentum activist and teacher trade unionist Laura Rogers spoke at the Jeremy Corbyn rally at Heartlands, Cornwall.


As a teacher I know something about bullying and what Jeremy Corbyn has endured would not be tolerated in any classroom. Thank you Jeremy for not being cowed because the other thing we know about bullies is that they act from a place of fear. And they are right to be afraid.

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Teachers and lecturers strike and protest on 5 July

Author: 

Peggy Carter and Ben Tausz

Teachers struck on Tuesday 5 July in a well supported national strike for guaranteed terms and conditions across all schools, increased funding to schools, and the resumption of negotiations on teacher workload.

The strike saw large protests. The march in London was overwhelmingly young, and many young teachers told Solidarity sellers that they had joined the Labour Party in the past year.

On Tuesday 5 July, UCU members at 33 universities walked out to coincide with the teachers’ national strike against school funding cuts.

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