INFORMATION

This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are essential to make our site work and others help us to improve by giving us some insight into how the site is being used. For further information, see our Privacy Policy.

The future of education (if any)

For discussions related to education and educational institutions.
Message
Author
User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22737
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

The future of education (if any)

#1 Postby Alan H » August 24th, 2012, 11:00 pm

Nothing to add to this:
An open letter to Michael Gove from an English teacher on a dark day for Education.

Dear Michael Gove,

You will never read this, but I feel compelled to put it out there in the faint hope that more people will realise the repercussions of your latest initiative.
I am proud to work at a small school, on a small estate, in the most deprived ward in the county. The life expectancy in this ward is a full 20 years lower than the neighbouring village, which tells you a little bit about our intake. Add to this that within our 530 students, we have 36 different languages spoken and over 40% of students do not count English as their first language. Effectively, we are everything you hate and everything you would like to abolish. We are the skidmark on the sparkling underpants of your brave new world of academies and free schools. It is no secret that you would like nothing more than to see us swallowed up by a nearby school which features higher in your flawed league tables, but we have worked relentlessly hard to maintain our independence and have done enough, miraculously, to keep our heads above your floor targets for the last couple of years.

This time last year, I got immense pleasure when watching my English group, all boys, opening their exam results. 13 of this class of 22 were learning English as an additional language and a further 7 were on the special educational needs register. I was delighted, as you would imagine, that 21 of them passed their English and English Literature Exams and headed off to college, full of confidence and ambition. They hadn’t had the greatest start in life, but had worked incredibly hard to achieve what may seem to you a modest grade C at GCSE level.

Today, I was excited to witness more of the same. The anticipation and excitement I feel on results day is something a thousand times more than when I received my own results. Anyone who teaches at my, or a similar school, will tell you exactly the same. We don’t teach students whose parents pay big money for them to learn Latin with private tutors, simply to be used as status symbols at social gatherings. We teach kids who have seen more turmoil and turbulence in their young lives than you or I will ever have to face and I can tell you that watching them learn that they have passed their GCSEs is the most satisfying, heart-warming reward you could ever imagine.
Fortunately, this year I was given a high set (where only about 30% of students were either EAL or SEN students) and they all performed exceptionally well. However, I spent the vast majority of the morning consoling students, who worked more than hard enough to achieve a C grade in English, had been predicted a C grade in English and effectively had earned a C grade in English, but had been credited with a D grade, thus scuppering their chances of going to a college which had conditionally accepted them based on their predicted grades. Just to be exceptionally clear, these are not privileged kids who were bright enough to get a high grade, but just couldn’t be bothered to work. These are students who are learning English as a second, sometimes third, language who have attended every revision session provided and still requested more, leading to some of us teachers having to put video lessons on YouTube to quench their never-ending thirst for knowledge.

The work ethic shown by some of these students to overcome their language barriers was breathtaking and awe-inspiring. When coming to collect their results, they were far too humble to be over-confident, let alone complacent, but deep down they were content with the knowledge that they had given their all. On opening the envelopes and seeing their D grades, each and every one of them covered their faces due to the shame that they felt. They should, of course, have been celebrating. But instead, a combination of devastation, embarrassment and confusion descended upon them and it was left to us teachers to try to explain to them what had gone wrong.

The wrongdoing, it has become clear, was not their own doing. It would appear that, in a bid to halt the increase in GCSE passes, particularly in English, you have put pressure on exam boards to ensure that only a certain number of students achieve a C grade or above. When the January examination results came out, it would seem that far too many students were passing, so something would have to change for those unfortunate enough to be entered at the end of the GCSE course, which is ironically something that you are trying to make compulsory. So, the marks entered for Speaking & Listening and Written Controlled Assessment (60% of the final grade) were moderated, and agreed. This gave a number of students false hope that they had already achieved a pass in more than half of the course and all they had to do was match that mark in their examination.

Incredibly, it has become apparent that the raw marks given for this part of the course, when converted, are now worth less than originally suggested and less than the credit given to those students whose identical work was submitted in January. This has, in turn, meant that these students were entering the exam, where they traditionally struggle due to issues with accessing the questions, on D grades. They never stood a chance, but they didn’t know. Unfortunately, they found out today. They can’t understand why someone would want to play around with their futures in such a cruel way and we, as teachers, should not have to be the ones to explain it to them.

You have not simply moved the goalposts. You have demolished them, sold off the playing fields where they once stood and left the dreams of these youngsters in tatters.

So, there we go. It appears that today you got what you wanted. The statistics show that GCSE passes are down and to you, statistics is all they will ever be. But to me and every other teacher I have had the pleasure of working with, these children are not statistics. They are young people who you have betrayed and will forever be affected by the contents in that envelope which they opened today. We teachers will continue to do our jobs and sleep soundly in the knowledge that we did all that we could and will continue to do so.

Chris Edwards
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Altfish
Posts: 1821
Joined: March 26th, 2012, 8:46 am

Re: The future of education (if any)

#2 Postby Altfish » August 25th, 2012, 7:04 am

Excellent, but truely tragic letter.

Although I have for a while thought that there was something wrong with the ever improving exam results, the obvious and clumsy way it has been 'rectified' is appalling. Your letter puts into words the consequencies of these moves.

It is wrong to hate someone as much as I hate Michael Gove?

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: The future of education (if any)

#3 Postby Dave B » August 25th, 2012, 9:41 am

It is wrong to hate someone as much as I hate Michael Gove?
Since I share something of your feeling, altfish, I do not think that it is. But pity the man a little as well, he cannot help it that his genes and upbringing suited him to become a politician, that most universally despised subdivision of Homo Sapiens. Since "sapient" means "wise" perhaps we need a new name for these people, Homo Politicus or something.

Education has become politicised, become a facet of ideology rather than something motivated by the good of the future of the individuals and the people. But then, can't have all these plebs getting too well educated can we? They might start thinking for themselves and do something about the situation!
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22737
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: The future of education (if any)

#4 Postby Alan H » August 25th, 2012, 10:05 am

Altfish wrote:I have for a while thought that there was something wrong with the ever improving exam results...
It could, of course, be a manifestation of the Flynn effect, but it is certainly open to political interference.

A friend (a PhD in neuroscience and a stand-up comic!) wrote about the exams in his (new) Guardian column, Brain Flapping, last week: GCSE results: the toxic impact of telling students 'exams are getting easier'.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
stevenw888
Posts: 694
Joined: July 16th, 2010, 12:48 pm

Re: The future of education (if any)

#5 Postby stevenw888 » August 29th, 2012, 5:53 pm

When I was at school (1975) a "D" was regarded as a pass.
"There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots." - From the film "Top Gun"

User avatar
Altfish
Posts: 1821
Joined: March 26th, 2012, 8:46 am

Re: The future of education (if any)

#6 Postby Altfish » August 31st, 2012, 6:06 pm

No regrades.

Scandalous :angry:

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22737
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: The future of education (if any)

#7 Postby Alan H » August 31st, 2012, 6:23 pm

OfQual have just announced that they will not be investigating the re-grading half way through the yea, but that they will help somehow (I didn't catch what was said) with resits (maybe bringing them forward?).
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: The future of education (if any)

#8 Postby Dave B » August 31st, 2012, 6:38 pm

The way I heard it on R4 was that OfQual would not be regrading any results. They decided that the earlier results had been graded to high by mistake and the last lot were graded correctly.

However they will try to expedite early resits for those affected.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

User avatar
Tetenterre
Posts: 3227
Joined: March 13th, 2011, 11:36 am

Re: The future of education (if any)

#9 Postby Tetenterre » August 31st, 2012, 11:19 pm

Whilst I have every sympathy with the current crop of pupils, who have been inexcusably jerked around by a succession of governments, I suggest that we ignore the fact that those who were examined 5 or more years ago were expected to meet much higher standards in all subjects, not just English! Why is there no concern for the injustice they suffer in comparison to last January's examinees?
Steve

Quantum Theory: The branch of science with which people who know absolutely sod all about quantum theory can explain anything.

thundril
Posts: 3607
Joined: July 4th, 2008, 5:02 pm

Re: The future of education (if any)

#10 Postby thundril » August 31st, 2012, 11:32 pm

Tetenterre wrote:Whilst I have every sympathy with the current crop of pupils, who have been inexcusably jerked around by a succession of governments, I suggest that we ignore the fact that those who were examined 5 or more years ago were expected to meet much higher standards in all subjects, not just English! Why is there no concern for the injustice they suffer in comparison to last January's examinees?

Why is it an injustice to have been educated to a higher standard? (Warning; this is a trick question :popcorn: )

User avatar
Tetenterre
Posts: 3227
Joined: March 13th, 2011, 11:36 am

Re: The future of education (if any)

#11 Postby Tetenterre » September 1st, 2012, 9:21 am

:laughter:

OK, I phrased it badly: the "injustice" was that they were given lower grades for a higher standard of work.
Steve

Quantum Theory: The branch of science with which people who know absolutely sod all about quantum theory can explain anything.

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: The future of education (if any)

#12 Postby Dave B » September 1st, 2012, 4:23 pm

I am bothered that all this lowering of standards (is it exists) and stuffing the "New Unis" to bursting point is meaning that most degrees are not a lot better than the old Higher National Certificates and Diplomas in the eyes of employees - they just become "the norm" after a while. They are suffering devaluation and a uni education has a similar value to the old poly qualifications.

That means the Oxbridge and "Old Uni" degrees are the only ones with any value - just like it used to be.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22737
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: The future of education (if any)

#13 Postby Alan H » September 9th, 2012, 1:20 pm

Does Michael Gove really know what he’s doing?
By Jane Smith

Friday, 7 September 2012 at 11:49 am

It strikes me* as odd that Michael Gove, a man with views on education that seem to have emerged from behind a Victorian school desk, can continue in his position as Education Secretary. Watching him blunder through his policies, changing his mind as he goes, flooding the education system with outdated practices which show no understanding of the day-to-day job of primary school teachers like me, I wonder, does he really know what he is doing?

Having taught Key Stage One (ages six to seven) for six years, I would like to challenge a few of the ‘changes’ that have been made to the English curriculum by the education secretary and share a few of my trade secrets that get children interested in reading and writing – many of the things that Gove seems so keen on phasing out.

In my relatively short career I have seen many changes to teaching materials and government expectations. Most frustrating are the changes apparently made only for the sake of making changes – and not for the benefit of children or even results.

Since the change in government in 2010, Gove has removed the ‘Literacy Framework’, a detailed outline of how to teach literacy in a broad and balanced way and leaving nothing in its place. Many of the inspiring and interesting topic resources are lost to teachers and still we have no government guidance on what the government want primary teachers to teach in literacy. A draft document has been sent out to schools (we received this in July 2012) for a literacy curriculum to be published in 2014, but what are we meant to use in the meantime?

Considering Gove said himself: “Nothing matters more than giving every child access to the best possible teaching and leaders”, he has removed a good baseline for a broad and balanced literacy curriculum and has failed to put anything in its place.

This isn’t a problem for experienced teachers who can draw upon past experiences, frameworks and resources to continue their lessons. But what about those who have recently qualified? All of those fantastic ex-bankers, ex-military, ex-businessmen who are so desperately needed in the profession, but who have no idea how to stimulate creativity and writing in Key Stay One? Where do they begin?

As for this new literacy curriculum, what a joke! “Ensure that pupils understand through being shown the skills and processes essential to writing.” I wonder what they think teachers have actually been teaching Year Two children to do? Turn cartwheels?

“Drama and role play can contribute to pupils’ writing,” it says, continuing to state the obvious. Yet most teachers know that this is essential to teaching writing in primary school. Where is the mention of composition being a creative process requiring a creative stimulus? Dictation has crept into this document in a blatant attempt at stifling individuality and fun within the classroom.

The government seems to base its policies on a system of Chinese Whispers (a wonderful game if you’re a six-year-old). Take phonics for example: at some point in 2006 following the (Labour commissioned) Rose Review, politicians got wind of phonics…. ‘ooh phonics you say’…. ‘what is this phonics thing?’

Phonics has been around in various forms for years. It is a system that helps children recognise letters or groups of letters as sounds in words which if blended together build up words on a page (such as: m-igh-t or ch-i-p-s). Thus the sounds blended, the words read, the text understood, perhaps a story enjoyed, facts learned or instructions followed etc. It is one vital tool by which reading and understanding, or writing and spelling, is the end product.

Plenty of research has been carried out to support the use of phonics as one strand in the process of learning to read. Now, I am a great advocate of synthetic phonics and teach a daily lesson for 20 minutes, but I cannot fathom the total phonics blindness that has been endorsed by this government and of course good old Gove. It seems that they have lost all understanding of what the process of phonics is actually for – and now six-year-olds are sitting exams for them!

Gove rolled out a phonics screening test in June 2012, to which the main response from Key Stage One teachers was either head in hands groan or laughing out loud. This test aimed at increasing six-year-olds’ ability to blend sounds, not for the purpose of reading and understanding, but purely for the sake of blending…

The most ridiculous part of the test was the section on blending ‘alien or nonsense words’. Never mind the fact that in reality when reading, if a child comes across an unfamiliar word, will try to blend it, if this is still unrecognisable will use the context of the sentence to decipher the word. Plus the fact that many words in the English language are not possible to decode (try blending sounds in laugh or because). A child’s ability to blend nonsense, leads to them learning precisely what, Mr Gove?

There are two reasons why I remain incensed about the imposition of such a diagnostically useless test (it in no way examines reading ability). Firstly, it puts tremendous pressure on very young children who, by the age of six, might be branded failures by the government, or by their parents, because they can’t read 30 out of the 40 words they’re being tested on (during what, for any child in Infants’ School, is a long time to have to sustain concentration for).

Secondly, the obsession with testing phonics makes the assumption that teachers don’t actually know what their children are capable of within this subject area. My advice to parents is: if your child failed the phonics screening test, don’t worry. As long as you read with them and to them on a daily basis, encourage them to blend sounds and read words by sight for understanding you are doing the right thing. Don’t forget that many European children don’t begin school until they are seven. Are they panicking? No!

I will continue my personal approach to teaching reading and writing, based on a mixture of daily phonics lessons (not including nonsense words), immersion in a range of different texts, drama and role play and finally the thing that gets any child writing a mixture of experiences, awe and wonder to inspire creativity in writing. Not teaching to the test!

Oh and if you want a good laugh, check out the training video for teachers carrying out the phonics screening test.

*Jane Smith is a pseudonym
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22737
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: The future of education (if any)

#14 Postby Alan H » September 10th, 2012, 11:43 pm

Pressure builds on Ofqual after leaked letters reveal it overruled 'fair' GCSE grades
Last Updated:10 September, 2012

Calls for chief regulator to resign after correspondence emerges that contradicts its report into scandal

England’s qualifications watchdog forced an exam board to make significant changes to GCSE English grades examiners had insisted were “fair” just two weeks before the publication of this summer’s controversial results, TES has learned.

Ofqual’s intervention - which contradicts a key finding from its inquiry into the marking crisis - has prompted calls from a former Ofqual board member for chief regulator Glenys Stacey to resign, describing her position as “untenable”.

June’s grade boundaries were correct and set by examiners “using their best professional judgement, taking into account all of the evidence available to them,” Ms Stacey concluded when publishing Ofqual’s inquiry report ten days ago. But letters between Ofqual and exam board Edexcel, seen by TES, reveal that examiners’ professional judgement was actually overruled by the regulator.

Ofqual ordered Edexcel to dramatically toughen up its English GCSE grade boundary despite strong protests from the board that its original decision was “fair” and backed by “compelling evidence”. The last minute changes will have led to many pupils missing out on crucial C grades.

The revelation comes as Ofqual and heads leaders prepare for questioning on the controversy before the Commons education select committee this (Tuesday) morning.

Members of an alliance including academies, local authorities, independent schools, unions and FE colleges fear that the committee may side with Ofqual and not embark on the full investigation they are demanding. But the letters are likely to bolster their case.

The correspondence also reveals that Edexcel had serious concerns about the reliability of Ofqual’s strategy of tackling grade inflation by linking results to pupils’ previous performance as 11-year-olds.

John Townsley, an Ofqual board member until March and a head who believes his pupils’ English GCSEs were unfairly graded, called for Ms Stacey to resign and accused Ofqual of “bullying” exam boards.

“The content of these letters is startling and makes absolutely clear that Ofqual itself has been at the centre of this disgraceful episode,” the executive principal of the Morley and Farnley academies in Leeds said.

“We can see, in the most certain terms possible, Ofqual applying immense pressure to the awarding body concerned in order to bring down the number of C grades awarded. Glenys Stacey’s position is untenable and she should resign with immediate effect.”

Russell Hobby, general secretary of heads’ union the NAHT, said the letters were “deeply troubling” and Ofqual’s credibility was “draining away by the day”.

Kenny Frederick, head of George Green’s School in east London, described the regulator’s action actions as “immoral” and “inhuman”.

“I don’t think Ofqual thought about pupils when it did this,” she said. “I think they were trying to keep the government happy.”

Ofqual’s director of standards, Dennis Opposs, wrote to Edexcel on August 7, concerned that the board was about to award results for GCSE English that would see the proportion of pupils with grade Cs rise eight percentage points above the statistical prediction.

He called on the board to act “quickly” and “produce outcomes that are much closer to the predictions”. “This may require you to move grade boundary marks further than might normally be required,” he acknowledged.
Edexcel replied the following day, stating that it had taken into account “all available evidence” and considered the issues raised by Ofqual but still felt its proposed grades were “fair”.

The predictions cited by Ofqual, based on candidates’ key stage 2 SAT results, “can only be, at best, an indicator of performance,” the board’s letter argued. There were other factors such as a change in cohort, and the modular nature of exams and it “would be negligent not to take into account as much information as possible”, it added.

Edexcel sums up its case in bold type, stating: “We believe this to be compelling evidence that our award is a fair award and we do not believe a further revision of our grade boundaries is justified.”

But the letter adds that if, despite its arguments, Ofqual still required a change, the board could move the minimum requirement for a C grade in one of the GCSE English units up to 65 marks out of 96 - a rise of 10 from January’s 55 mark grade boundary.

Ofqual does not engage with Edexcel’s arguments in its August 9 reply. Mr Opposs simply states that it is obliged to ensure its results are consistent with other boards that were close enough to predictions. “It is for you to decide how that is achieved,” he writes.

The letter also suggests that the 65 mark boundary would actually be tougher than the predictions required. But Edexcel’s website shows that the 65 boundary was finally adopted.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Ofqual’s insistence that standards were comparable no longer holds water.

“Thousands of students have been treated unfairly because flawed implementation of a new qualification.”

Questions will now be raised about whether Ofqual intervened with other boards’ results, particularly AQA - the board which had the largest number of schools using GCSE English.

But on GCSE results day Andrew Hall, AQA chief executive, denied he had been “leant on by anybody”.

An Ofqual spokesman said: “When setting out our comparable outcomes approach, we have made it clear that where exam boards propose results that differ significantly from expectations, we will challenge them and intervene where necessary to make sure standards are correct.

“When the Bill establishing Ofqual was debated in Parliament in 2009, there was a consensus that Ofqual needed the power to intervene in grade boundary setting where necessary to secure standards - we are doing no more than Parliament intended.

“The correspondence with Edexcel was part of that process and was entirely proper. We will set this out in detail in our final report. The exam board made the final decision on the grade boundaries.”

An Edexcel spokesperson said: “Where the grade boundaries were positioned for GCSE English was clearly a matter of extensive discussion this year between exam boards and the regulator.

“As this correspondence shows, Edexcel made certain reservations clear to Ofqual, in the interests of maintaining standards. Our final award, which we believe was fair to all learners, followed specific requests from Ofqual to help them to do that on a national basis acrossall exam boards.”


*TES will publish the full letters online this morning.

As the first comment asks:
who instructed Ofqual- directly or indirectly?
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Nick
Posts: 10971
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: The future of education (if any)

#15 Postby Nick » September 11th, 2012, 10:55 am

Seems to me, that GCSE English is rapidly becoming a useless measure of anything much. We put tests in the way to make sure standards are achieved, then worry that everone must pass them, even if they don't deserve to. It's not some much that I'm seeking to blame anyone (though I could), but that we are barking up the wrong educational tree.

Too many kids are failed by the education system in that it doesn't equip them for their future, and, apparently, we have the unhappiet kids in Europe.

User avatar
Tetenterre
Posts: 3227
Joined: March 13th, 2011, 11:36 am

Re: The future of education (if any)

#16 Postby Tetenterre » October 26th, 2012, 11:51 am

Re "Today" programme this morning on the move to increase the literacy and numeracy requirements for trainee teachers:

I am not surprised that Christine Blower was so equivocal in her support of improving the literacy standards: her inability to recognise that she was not actually answering the questions that she was asked means that she would have failed even to get a grade D for the GCSE English "Speaking and Listening" component.

Add to that the delicious irony of Charlie Taylor (who was advocating the change) demonstrating his command of English by asserting, at least twice, that some of the best graduates "want to come into teachers" (for a moment I wondered if I'd drifted off and come back to a piece about Savile!) and we have these two interviewees clearly making the case for improved literacy.

And, of course, unqualified teachers in "free" and "faith" schools will continue to be exempt...
Steve

Quantum Theory: The branch of science with which people who know absolutely sod all about quantum theory can explain anything.

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22737
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: The future of education (if any)

#17 Postby Alan H » November 28th, 2012, 12:24 am

Vince Cable accuses Michael Gove of betrayal over faith schools

Department for Education ensured schools could be more than 90% Catholic, Vince Cable says the move broke coalition deal

A row has broken out within the coalition over the expansion of faith-based schools, with the business secretary, Vince Cable, writing a furious letter to Michael Gove's education department accusing him of flouting the 2010 coalition deal.

Department for Education officials, acting on Gove's direct orders, had undermined the Liberal Democrat/Conservative deal by intervening to ensure a pair of proposed Catholic schools in Cable's Twickenham constituency would be able to select almost their entire intake on the basis of religion, Cable complained.

In a brief but irate missive to David Laws, the Lib Dem education minister, copied to the office of party leader Nick Clegg, Cable wrote: "A serious problem has arisen whereby DfE officials, in evidence to a court case, appear to be acting in contradiction to the coalition agreement in relation to faith schools and contrary to the express intention of the Education Act 2011." He concluded: "Can you intervene with the department to rectify this situation?"

The disagreement centres on a particular case in Cable's constituency and he wrote as a local MP rather than a minister, but it highlights the tensions between the coalition's two pivotal education figures. Cable's department handles higher education while Gove is taking an increasingly centralist approach to shaking up the schools system.

The row began with the decision by Conservative-led Richmond council to hand £10m of land and assets to the Catholic church to set up two new voluntary-aided religious schools, one primary and one secondary. Such schools, if oversubscribed, can give more than 90% of places to Catholic children, and a local consultation document proposed doing this.

Local campaigners opposed to faith schools applied to the high court for judicial review, arguing that under last year's Education Act councils wanting to establish a new school must first seek proposals for the establishment of an academy. Crucially, faith schools that are academies or free schools can select only 50% of their intake on the basis of religion.

Shortly before the case was due to be heard, Gove intervened decisively. He formally applied to take part in the proceedings as an interested party, to argue that in his view Richmond was not legally obliged to seek the academy route.

It was at this point, on 9 November, that Cable wrote his letter, also copying in a local campaigner who passed it to the British Humanist Association (BHA), which was backing the court case.

Cable's appeal for Gove to step back was ignored. A week later in the high court Mr Justice Sales rejected the campaigners' application and gave Richmond the immediate go-ahead for voluntary aided schools. The judge has yet to publish his arguments but the direct intervention of a secretary of state on a point of law would probably be crucial.

The council has since confirmed it will press ahead with plans for schools where only 10% of the intake will be "community places", the rest going to Catholics.

At the heart of the dispute is not religious schools in themselves, but the lack of access to non-Catholics. The coalition agreement in May 2010 welcomed more faith schools but called on them to "facilitate inclusive admissions policies" as far as possible, seen to mean a 50% limit on faith-based intake.

In his letter to the DfE Cable wrote: "For the record, I and the Richmond Liberal Democrat council group have supported the proposal for a new Catholic school but argued that it should be inclusive (ie 50:50 admission). This was in line with the presumption in favour of 50% faith-based admission in new academies in the [Education] Act, and the coalition agreement."

Cable's fury appears fuelled in part by a sense that Gove has gone back on his word: in March the Liberal Democrat wrote to the education secretary suggesting the new Richmond schools be subject to the 50% religious limit. Gove replied saying that while this would not be enforced, a voluntary cap "seems very sensible to me and I would welcome such a move".

Cable told the Guardian he was acting purely as a local MP, and that he had supported the efforts of campaigners to make the school more inclusive. He declined to criticise Gove personally, but said: "I am disappointed at the outcome. There was quite a lot of local feeling about this. I supported the school but I raised concerns because the coalition agreement said faith schools should have a 50/50 split on intake."

Andrew Copson, chief executive of the BHA, said the Lib Dems previously had a more robust position on faith schools. He said: "Those principles were diluted in the coalition agreement, and now even that seems to be unenforceable. We would urge other politicians who support inclusive schools to join Dr Cable in urging Michael Gove to reverse his position."

A spokeswoman for the DfE said last night: "The secretary of state, in entering the judicial review as an interested party, did so only to clarify the policy in respect of establishing new schools, including academies. We note that Mr Justice Sales has dismissed the case, though we await his full written judgment."


And the BHA press release: Vince Cable accuses Michael Gove’s officials of breaking Coalition Agreement on ‘faith’ school admissions
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22737
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: The future of education (if any)

#18 Postby Alan H » December 31st, 2012, 11:08 pm

It may seem trivial in some ways, but apparently the evidence shows that the design of a school can affect pupils' attainment, yet Gove ignores it. Looks again like they know the cost of everything and the value of nothing:

Michael Gove faces rebellion over no-curves schools plan

Study claiming well-designed classrooms could improve pupil performance by 25% sparks calls for rethink of guidelines

The education secretary, Michael Gove, is facing a growing rebellion from teachers and architects over plans to simplify new school buildings after a study claimed well-designed classrooms could improve pupils' progress in lessons by as much as 25%.

Lord Rogers, the architect of buildings ranging from the Pompidou Centre in Paris to Mossbourne academy in Hackney, east London, has urged the government to rethink its policy for the procurement of £2.5bn worth of new schools and "for the sake of the next generation" heed evidence that school environments affect pupil performance.

Deborah Saunt, an award-winning school designer, has also announced that her firm is boycotting the government's plan to build 261 replacement primary and secondary schools, describing simplified design guidelines as the architectural equivalent of feeding children McDonald's every day.

This autumn Gove ordered a ban on curves in a new generation of no-frills school buildings ,in response to what he calls a decade of wasteful extravagance in educational architecture.

The first contracts will be awarded in April in a programme of new schools that will be 15% smaller than those built under the previous government's over-budgeted and delayed Building Schools for the Future programme. Gove's decision to squeeze space for corridors, assembly halls and canteens means building costs could be slashed by 30%, saving up to £6m a school.

Folding internal partitions to subdivide classrooms, roof terraces that can be used as play areas, glazed walls and translucent plastic roofs are banned. The first schools designed to the new rules are due to open in September 2014.

However, the initial findings of a study by academics at Salford University showed a strong correlation between the built environment where teaching takes place and test results in reading, writing and maths. Lighting, circulation, acoustics, individuality and colour were revealed to affect pupils' progress in the year-long study of achievement by 751 children in seven primary schools in Blackpool. It found eight out of 10 environmental factors displayed significant correlations with the pupils' performance and the report's authors concluded: "This clear evidence of the significant impact of the built environment on pupils' learning progression highlights the importance of this aspect for policymakers, designers and users."

Gove has dismissed the significance of the findings. A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "There is no convincing evidence that spending enormous sums of money on school buildings leads to increased attainment. An excellent curriculum, great leadership and inspirational teaching are the keys to driving up standards."

"This study confirms what our practice has long believed," Rogers said. "Good design has the potential to have a truly positive effect on the way children learn. Mossbourne is a striking piece of evidence: high in the league tables and with staff and pupils commenting enthusiastically about the impact of the school's careful design. We proved it is possible to produce a well-designed school collaboratively with the senior teaching staff which adheres to a tight budget. Gove is making it unneccessarily difficult to design good schools."

The Royal Institute of British Architects has said it is seriously concerned the government's proposed "flat-pack" approach"will place a straitjacket on future generations of teaching professionals and quickly render these schools redundant".

It added: "The designs for secondary schools include narrow corridors and concealed stairs that are difficult to supervise. In many schools this is likely to result in the need for additional staff supervision to maintain good behaviour and avoid bullying."

The Salford academics hypothesised that three principles of environmental design would most affect brain function among pupils: how "natural" it felt to be in the room, the extent to which the room felt individual to its occupants, and whether it stimulated them.

Testing the theory against academic results, they found the most significant design factor appeared to be how well the school allowed pupils to flow through it. Good design of "connections" – wide and uncluttered corridors with easy orientation and landmarks, rooms that are quickly accessible from the main entrance, and proximity of classrooms to places such as the library, music room and cafe – accounted for a quarter of the positive impact on learning progression that the built environment can have.

Colour was the next most important factor, followed by complexity of design, where less was more, and flexibility, where more was better. Light levels and the degree to which a classroom and its furniture was designed to foster a sense of "this is our classroom" ownership and familiarity in the pupils were the fifth and sixth most effective factors affecting educational performance. The desire for natural light was combined with a dislike of glare and a desire for good artificial light.

Among the other positive factors were even underfloor heating and windows and doors that opened wide to allow the buildup of soporific carbon dioxide to escape.

The results were not always as expected. The results of Sats tests suggested less rather than more colour and complexity in classroom design was better for pupil performance.

"Young children may like exciting spaces, but to learn it would seem they need relatively ordered spaces, but with a reasonable degree of interest," the authors said.

The British Council for School Environments, a charity whose backers include teachers, governors and architects, has described the Salford study as "very significant". Chief executive Sharon Wright said it was "lobbying for schools to have a real say in the design and to be listened to, to ensure the designs are right for them."

A DfE spokesman defended the standard school designs, insisting they "will provide light, bright and airy learning environments for pupils and were drawn up jointly with architects and teaching experts to make the very best use of space".
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: The future of education (if any)

#19 Postby Dave B » January 5th, 2013, 2:29 pm

This is maybe not the thread for this, but can't seem to access some other threads.

It seems that battles over who does education have not changed a lot in the past 108 years, the cartoon below comes from "The Cheltenham Chronicle and Gloucestershire Graphic" of January 1904.
Attachments
school battle people church 2.jpg
school battle people church 2.jpg (450.72 KiB) Viewed 9539 times
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22737
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: The future of education (if any)

#20 Postby Alan H » January 5th, 2013, 3:02 pm

Dave B wrote:This is maybe not the thread for this, but can't seem to access some other threads.
Eh?
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?


Return to “Education”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests