FORUM
ISSN 0963-8253


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Volume 51 Number 2 2009

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CONTENTS [click on author's name for abstract and full text]

 

Clyde Chitty. Editorial. A Game of Snakes and Ladders, pages 115‑116
Susanne Wiborg. The Enduring Nature of Egalitarian Education in Scandinavia: an English perspective, pages 117‑130
Anna Traianou. The Uncertain Character of Recent Educational Reform in Greece, pages 131‑142
Derek Gillard. Short and Fraught: the history of primary education in England, pages 143‑163
Michael Armstrong. Playful Words: the educational significance of children’s linguistic and literary play, pages 165‑183
Patrick Yarker. Happy Fiasco! The National Curriculum Tests of 2008, and After, pages 185‑196
Richard Pring. Education Cannot Compensate for Society: reflections on the Nuffield Review of 14‑19 Education and Training, pages 197‑204
Richard Harris. Southampton: a case study on why Academies are not the answer, pages 205‑214
Clyde Chitty. Opposition Education Policies, pages 215‑226
Chris Searle. Mandela, Manchester: a response to establishment pessimism, pages 227‑232
Emma Snowden. Enjoy and Achieve: finding opportunities to action the Every Child Matters framework to provide opportunities for children and adults to work collaboratively on an outdoor learning project, pages 233‑240
Clive Griggs. The Switch to Private Pension Plans for Teachers, 1982‑2002: a case of freedom of choice or financial scandal?, pages 241‑258
Clyde Chitty. Initial Teacher Training or Education? ITT or ITE?, pages 259‑261

BOOK REVIEW doi:10.2304/forum.2009.51.2.263 VIEW FULL TEXT
The Professionals: better teachers, better schools (Phil Revell), reviewed by Derek Gillard, pages 263‑267


 

EDITORIAL
A Game of Snakes and Ladders

doi:10.2304/forum.2009.51.2.115

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As I write this Editorial at the beginning of May 2009, there is really very little to be cheerful about, but I will try to look for the ‘green shoots’ of educational recovery.

To begin on a sour note, Sir Alan Steer’s Report for the Government on school discipline produced a predictable spate of negative and despairing newspaper stories on 15 April 2009, the day that it was published; and the BBC One television programme ‘The Big Questions’, broadcast on 19 April, actually featured a debate as to whether it was now time to reintroduce corporal punishment in schools.

Whatever the issue – whether it’s the case against corporal punishment, the arguments in favour of comprehensive education and non-streaming, etc – we seem to be trapped in an ‘Ashes to Ashes’-type timewarp, where the same issues need fighting for over and over again. Sometimes we appear to be making progress, but then we fall down all the snakes on the board.

In the circumstances, we need to be grateful for the campaigning work of the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Head Teachers. This journal has always been opposed to all SATs tests, and this number contains an important article on the subject by Board Member Patrick Yarker. It was good to see the NUT voting unanimously at its recent annual conference in Cardiff for a ballot on a proposed boycott of the 2010 round of tests for 11-year-olds. And this vote came at the same time as a scathing attack on SATs tests by Professor Peter Tymms of Durham University, one of Britain’s leading experts on testing and assessment. In Professor Tymms’s view, tests for 11-year-olds had ‘a serious negative impact on the education system and should be scrapped’ (reported in  The Independent , 10 April 2009). Yet this story also has its downside in that, somewhat paradoxically, the NASUWT seems to be contemplating industrial action if the SATs tests are abolished – thereby giving teachers an increased workload.

Since Patrick wrote his article, the Government has announced the end of Key State Two tests in science from 2010. This may be considered a step in the right direction; but, as NAHT General Secretary Mick Brookes has argued, it could mean a further narrowing of the primary curriculum, with all attention now focussed on just maths and English. More snakes in view.

Whatever the views of Ed Balls, Tim Brighouse, John Dunford and Sir Jim Rose, the NUT seems determined to press ahead with its campaign to see all Sats tests abolished. Speaking on 6 May, NUT General Secretary Christine Blower said:

All of the arguments about getting rid of tests for 14-year-olds apply to the tests for 11-year-olds as well. We really think there is no point in testing every single 11-year-old in the country. Even if there is a will to change the league tables, it won’t happen unless you get rid of the tests. We’re saying we’re happy to do sampling and teaching assessments, but get rid of the tests in all three subjects at Key State Two. (reported in The Guardian, 7 May 2009)

This journal has also had serious and well-founded reservations about the original 1987 framework for the National Curriculum in England and Wales; but its steady disintegration over the past 20 years has been both farcical and harmful to the interests of children. In their recent thoughtful and well-informed education document Equity and Excellence (to be discussed more fully later in this number), the Liberal Democrats propose that the existing, ‘overly prescriptive’ 600-page National Curriculum document should be downsized to a Minimum Curriculum Guarantee of just 20 pages, which sounds like a good idea. The Conservatives’ plans, on the other hand, would surely result in a situation resembling anarchy. If Academies become ‘the norm’ at the secondary stage and the idea is extended to the primary sector, what is the point of having a national curriculum, since, as far as the Conservatives are concerned, innovation and curriculum autonomy form an important part of the Academies’  raison d’etre ? We’ll soon be reaching a situation where there was actually more standardisation before 1988.

To end on a puzzling note. After she died in March 2009, Jade Goody was praised by Gordon Brown for using some of her money to provide a first-class education for her two boys. But that education was to be provided in the independent sector.

Clyde Chitty

 

The Enduring Nature of Egalitarian Education in Scandinavia: an English perspective

doi:10.2304/forum.2009.51.2.117

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It is the aim of this article to contribute towards an understanding of why Scandinavia and England have achieved very different levels of social integration in their state school systems.

 

The Uncertain Character of Recent Educational Reform in Greece

doi:10.2304/forum.2009.51.2.131

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This article outlines the main education reforms that have taken place in Greece from the 1960s until the present. The author discusses how the direction of these reforms has been influenced not only by ‘global’ pressures for ‘modernization’ but also by the distinctive socio-cultural Greek context. The conclusion stresses that despite the various attempts to reform the Greek education system key issues about the purposes of education provision remain unresolved.

 

Short and Fraught: the history of primary education in England

doi:10.2304/forum.2009.51.2.143

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Official reports on primary education are a bit like London buses. You wait ages and then three come along at once. There has been no major report on primary education since the 1967 Plowden Report  Children and their Primary Schools. Now, final reports are awaited from the Cambridge Primary Review and the government-appointed Independent Review of the Primary Curriculum, and the Children Schools and Familes Select Committee has just published its report on the National Curriculum. This piece aims to place these reviews in their historical context.

 

Playful Words: the educational significance of children’s linguistic and literary play

doi:10.2304/forum.2009.51.2.165

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This article is the text of a keynote address given to the North Dakota Study Group on Evaluation at its annual conference in Chicago in February 2009. Three examples of children’s linguistic and literary playfulness are examined, two from England and one from the USA. The article explores the radical implications of these examples for primary education, identifying four values in particular that children’s literary play calls for: empathy, freedom of time and space, conversation, and documentation.

 

Happy Fiasco! The National Curriculum Tests of 2008, and After

doi:10.2304/forum.2009.51.2.185

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This article, which draws heavily on the Sutherland Inquiry report into the delivery of National Curriculum testing in 2008, outlines important aspects of the failure that year to report test-scores on time, considers the extent to which ministers might have been held more accountable and reviews the state of the long struggle to replace the current form of NC testing with less-damaging alternative forms of assessment.

 

Education Cannot Compensate for Society: reflections on the Nuffield Review of 14‑19 Education and Training

doi:10.2304/forum.2009.51.2.197

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This article is a synopsis of the main argument of the Nuffield Review of 14‑19 Education and Training – in particular, the problems which gave rise to the Review, the ways in which the government has responded, and how the Review believes policy and practice should develop in the future.

 

Southampton: a case study on why Academies are not the answer

doi:10.2304/forum.2009.51.2.205

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The author recounts the arrival of two Oasis Community Learning Academies in Southampton through a process of failed political courage to continue supporting the Local Authority. He tells of the subsequent impact when children and parents react against the regime in one of the Academies. In conclusion he challenges the Labour Government over the issues that arise from this case and similar Academy problems.

 

Opposition Education Policies

doi:10.2304/forum.2009.51.2.215

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This article examines some of the recent documents and policy statements on education policy from the two main opposition parties. It argues that, while we have reached the stage where New Labour and Conservative pronouncements on education are more or less interchangeable, the Liberal Democrats have made a genuine attempt to forge a distinctive and progressive policy of their own.

 

Mandela, Manchester: a response to establishment pessimism

doi:10.2304/forum.2009.51.2.227

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This article includes some of the remarkable poems to be included in  Mandela, Manchester , an anthology of school students’ work dedicated to the inspirational life of Nelson Mandela

 

Enjoy and Achieve: finding opportunities to action the  Every Child Matters  framework to provide opportunities for children and adults to work collaboratively on an outdoor learning project

doi:10.2304/forum.2009.51.2.233

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Every Child Matters (ECM), an agenda for agencies working with children, was introduced following the tragic death of Victoria Climbié in 2001. Lord Laming produced a report that proposed a new way of working for all professionals working with children. In June 2003, under a Labour government, the first Children’s minister was appointed and the ECM agenda was actioned. The agenda outlined  radical  change for children’s services and individuals working with children. In 2003 I was employed as a science teacher in a South East London mixed comprehensive. I implemented and managed the Healthy Schools initiative. At the time I struggled to find a tangible definition of ECM and what form it could take in a school setting. Now, working with students, training to become professional educators I introduce ECM as a framework. It enables individuals within an educational setting to start to share ideas that are context specific and relate directly to those it affects. In order for the framework to be successful it needs to be focussed and recognise all successes, small and large.

 

The Switch to Private Pension Plans for Teachers, 1982‑2002: a case of freedom of choice or financial scandal?

doi:10.2304/forum.2009.51.2.241

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In the early 1980s the Conservative Administration introduced legislation to promote private personal pension plans for public sector workers. An army of commission-driven sales staff from the financial services industry sought to persuade teachers and others to abandon their inflation-proof pension schemes for those offered by private companies. It took some time before it was realised that this was a retrograde step for most employees taking this advice. Fortunately, trade unions were well represented within the public sector and they interceded on behalf of their members and exposed the fraudulent behaviour of established financial companies. The Financial Services Authority not only fined the financial services companies thousands of pounds but forced them to restore employees to the situation they would have been in if they had ignored the advice given earlier. This financial scandal took nearly 20 years to resolve satisfactorily. Teachers and other employees learned a hard lesson: most private companies put the profit motive before service to customers, they are not necessarily more efficient than the public sector and financial consultants are, in effect, sales persons whose advice is usually motivated by commission and bonus payments. Painful though the experience of many teachers had been, by the Autumn of 2008 the whole country would be shaken by the disastrous effects of a weakly regulated free market financial system.

 

Initial Teacher Training or Education? ITT or ITE?

doi:10.2304/forum.2009.51.2.259

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In this article, it is argued that the terms education and training are different, but not mutually exclusive. Where post-graduate certificate courses are concerned, training forms only part of the preparation of new teachers.

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