Academies, religion & schools, class sizes, remodelling, testing and tables, ...
In January 2008 Ed Balls appointed Sir Jim Rose to review the current Primary curriculum and recommend changes for implementation from September 2011. Jim Rose, a distinguished professor of education, has reported for this government before. In 2006 his review of the teaching of reading was seized on by education ministers to justify imposing on teachers despite much opposition a single method to teach children to read. A decade and a half earlier, Rose was one of the ‘Three Wise Men’ tasked by the Tories with reporting on the state of England’s Primary schools.
Barratt Homes has pulled out of its agreement with Northants County Council to purchase 18 school sites and playing fields.
More collapses of such deals, and of PFI contracts, must be likely in the coming months, as contractors find it harder to raise the credit required.
Northamptonshire "Save Our Services" states: "Northants County Council... PFI deal... method of financing new schools... guarantees the PFI speculators high profits over thirty-two years while at the same time charges us, the public, £865 million for capital projects costing only £235 million.
Staff and students begin a new school-year with business unfinished from the old one. The system for marking public tests undergone by eleven and fourteen year olds in England’s state schools spectacularly imploded in the early Summer. Thousands of test-papers went unmarked and results were delivered weeks late to many schools. Some staff will be discovering the full extent of the chaos and incompetence which plagued this year’s tests only now, as they face the arduous task of reviewing returned scripts and considering whether to spend precious time and money on the appeals process.
Against the “National Challenge”
The National Challenge scheme, launched in June 2008, is supposed to push up school standards.
Schools have been threatened with being forced to convert into Academies, and could face the loss of specialist status and the removal of funding. The 638 National Challenge schools were selected on the basis that fewer than 30 per cent of their students have achieved five or more A*-C grade GCSEs, including English and maths.
We bought schoolbooks in Ennis classrooms then:
Penny by penny the poorest paid. My mother
Would skimp on call; others found it too much bother,
In May, 11 and 14 year olds in England’s state schools faced the tedious annual round of public tests in English, Maths and Science. All results of those tests were supposed to be with schools this week. They won’t be.
If you ask teachers what the worst aspect of their job is, a very big majority will point to excessive workload. We know this because they have been asked by trade unions and by academic researchers on a regular basis.
In particular, research commissioned by government to identify why so many people leave the job consistently shows that workload is a crucial factor. Teacher trade unions are aware of the importance of this issue but have taken two diametrically opposed paths in dealing with it.
“Teachers are proletarians. Indeed, it has been some time now since a significant number of teachers owned their own means of production; in order to survive they sell their labour power…”
Beverly J. Silver, Forces of Labour: Workers’ Movements and Globaliation since 1870
I am a local officer of Leeds NUT. One of our biggest sources of casework is workplace bullying. It is also one of the most depressing and frustrating aspects of our work because it is very difficult to protect individual members from systematic intimidation by school managers, and the problem grows like a malignant tumour.
Contradictions inherent in New Labour’s policy of increased diversity and “choice” in school-provision have surfaced again over admissions to state secondary schools.
MARY PLAYS NUNS' SCHOOL
Now, Mary places papers all along the kitchen,
On table, dresser, chairs: small girls at school;
Herself, the nun, alone with children in her den.
A story has been doing the rounds over the last week that unruly kids are using quips from TV comedy shows to 'answer back' at teachers. "Am I bovvered?", "Whatev-ah!"
On Tuesday 27 March, facing the threat of a solid strike, management at Central Foundation Girls’ School in East London backed down on their threat of compulsory redundancies.
Support staff at the school had voted by a huge 94% in a legal ballot to take strike action. The following is a report written before the management backed down.
By Liam Conway, Central Notts NUT
All class-divided societies have inequality in education. Britain is not unique in that. What is unusual in Britain is the frenzy of the “postcode lottery” for favoured schools, now supplemented in Brighton by a literal lottery.
Some other issues need to be considered in the light of the debate over the lottery system.
The best predictor of a school's educational achievement is, apparently, the proportion of students getting free school dinners. It should come as no surprise that, within a class society, the most important factor in education is social class.
No education system can magic this fact away until socialism abolishes class society.
Brighton’s schools have hit the headlines with the row over a lottery system for admissions to secondary schools.
The plans for a lottery have lead to local protests and splits in the Labour group on the council.
Under the new scheme that narrowly won through, those in the new catchment areas for local schools will be able to go to the schools allotted to them, but where there are two schools in the catchment area and one school is oversubscribed children will enter a ballot to decide who gets the school of their choice.
Andrew Adonis (I somehow can't bring myself to call himself 'Lord') has opened his big, right-wing gob again. This time, he tells us that the closure of grammar schools in the 1960s and '70s was a backward step that "reinforced class divisions" rather than helping those less well off.
A government-commissioned report has recommended that schools be allowed to appoint business leaders in place of qualified head teachers. To run a school, you will no longer need to know anything about teaching, or about children - heaven forbid. A robust knowledge of profit-and-loss will do fine, perhaps with additional 'desirable qualities' of bashing the 'competition' (presumably meaning other schools), bullying staff and attacking unions.
By a Tower Hamlets teaching assistant
Ruth Kelly’s government has been instrumental in closing down, wholesale, special schools in line with a policy called “inclusion”. The idea was that students with special needs would do better if included in mainstream schools.
Free state education? When my two daughters started year 11 and year 8, respectively, at a state high school this week, it cost me $700; and there'll be another $200 bill coming soon, for year 8 camp.
$50 of the costs was an extra, for one of the girls doing instrumental music. The rest were basics: $195 each textbook levy, $160 for a graphics calculator for year 11 maths, $20 for a scientific calculator, $90 for stationery.
Following Hazel Blears and Karen Buck reacting against the impact on their own turf of New Labour's vandalism of public services, Ruth Kelly dominates today's news with the revelation that she is sending her son to a private school.
By Tom Unterrainer
The former education secretary and current “communities minister” Ruth Kelly has caused outrage amongst teachers, constituents and fellow Labour Party members by deciding to send her son to a £15,000 a year private school.
Can a Teaching Assistant carry out her job in the classroom whilst wearing a niqab? Being prepared to take it off when no male is present does not resolve the issue. Men work in schools.
A TA can quell unruly behaviour with a raised eyebrow or a pursed lip. A student gets a clear message from facial expressions. They get reassurance that, though we don’t approve of what they just did, we don’t think they are nasty people. You can’t do that without showing your face.
By Colin Foster
From the Blairites, and from further to the right, we hear more and more about “restoring discipline” and “restoring old-fashioned standards” in schools.
The real chaos generated in some schools by social decay and by incessant “restructuring” from above is being used as a springboard for the re-imposition of more punitive, authoritarian regimes in schools.
From Central Foundation Girls' School Unison: At a branch meeting [on 27 September] our members voted unanimously to ballot for industrial action over the threat of redundancies among admin staff in the school.
The NASUWT and the NUT [teachers' unions] have pledged support, which means that potentially the school could shut during the action.
The Unison Tower Hamlets Branch has also backed our decision and is contacting the regional office to ask them to endorse our dispute.
This is a fantastic response to the proposed restructure of the admin section.
It’s 2.30pm on Friday - just half an hour before the end of a tiring week - and Year Ten are predictably restive. You need to move the lesson on but all attempts to settle the class have failed. Detentions are issued, individuals spoken to and you even attempt the trick of starting to explain from the board in the hope that they’ll all realise what you want them to do. Nothing works. You’ve got one last trick up your sleeve (literally): the ‘Hand Signal TM’.
“I am Barbara, mother of Marvin. He was born and raised in Hackney, and is a polite, intelligent child in all subject areas and in sports.
Here is the list of rebels who voted to amend the appalling Education Bill. Several cheers to all of them. I made my feelings on the subject known earlier this year at TUC women's conference.
by Patrick Murphy, newly elected NUT executive member
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) conference, meeting in Torquay over the Easter bank holiday weekend, confirmed what serious left activists in the union have been saying for some time. The potential for a fight back against the government’s agenda for education exists, but we will not clear the roadblock of our right-wing leadership unless we rebuild and politically renew the left.