FORUM
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Volume 54 Number 2 2012

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

 

THEME
Democracy, Accountability and Co-operation

Clyde Chitty & Colin Richards. Editorial, pages 179–183 http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.2.179 VIEW FULL TEXT

Stewart Ranson. Governing Education: remaking the long revolution, pages 185–203

Ken Jones. Power, Democracy – and Democracy in Education, pages 205–214

Derek Gillard. Half Way to Hell: what Gove is doing to England’s schools, pages 215–230

Trevor Fisher. The Myth of School Autonomy: centralisation as the determinant of English educational politics, pages 231–245

Colin Richards. Ofsted Inspection Inspected: an examination of the 2012 framework for school inspection and its accompanying evaluation schedule, pages 247–271

Jon Berry. Does Gove Really Want to Set Us Free?, pages 273–284

Geraldine Norman & Mark Moorhouse. The Stone Age Didn’t End Because They Ran out of Stone: why our children can’t wait much longer for a functional school system, pages 285–298

John Hopkin. Re-energising Subject Knowledge, pages 299–304

John White. Towards a New ABC of Curriculum-making: a reply to John Hopkin, pages 305–311

Clyde Chitty. The Birth of New Labour and the Death of Comprehensive Education, pages 313–318

Melian Mansfield. Mr Gove’s Road to Privatisation: forcing primary schools to become Academies, pages 319–322

Jamie Audsley & Philip Cook. Co-operative Schools: a democratic alternative, pages 323–325

Tom Woodin. Co-operative Schools: building communities in the 21st century, pages 327–339

Peter Wilby. Can We Believe the International League Tables?, pages 341–344

 


 

Governing Education: remaking the long revolution

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.2.185

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Behind the thin veil of the Conservative regime’s rationale of deficit reduction hides the final demolition of public comprehensive education and Raymond Williams’s more expansive long revolution unfolding over a century of creating a democratic state that affords opportunity, voice and justice for all. Restoring the politics of a pre-war or Edwardian era, opportunity is now being rationed and education returned to its tradition of social selection and class subordination. Autocratic power is being constructed at the expense of ‘inefficient’ democratic spaces that voice appeal and deliberate policy in relation to need. Yet democracy is not the problem but the solution to the collective action dilemmas facing civil society. The potential of comprehensive learning communities to develop democratic collective agency is proposed.

 

Power, Democracy – and Democracy in Education

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.2.205

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This article addresses questions of workplace democracy, particularly in relation to school education. Following Luciano Canfora in treating democracy as ‘the rule of the many’, it traces the post-1945 rise of workplace democracy, and its post-1979 decline. Analysing the constitution of contemporary schooling in England, the article concludes that it has been de-democratised. It suggests, however, that in the increasingly difficult situation in which the neo-liberal project of education finds itself, the efficacy and legitimacy of this system of governance will be increasingly questioned.

 

Half Way to Hell: what Gove is doing to England’s schools

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.2.215

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In this article the author summarises the events of the past five months and assesses the damage being done by the Tory/LibDem coalition government to our schools, to the teachers who work in them, and to the education they provide.

 

The Myth of School Autonomy: centralisation as the determinant of English educational politics

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.2.231

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Following his previous article in this journal on the centralisation of power in English education post the 1988 Education Reform Act (‘The Era of Centralisation’, FORUM, 50[2], pp. 255–261), the author considers the apparent turn to school autonomy central to the Conservative Educational Revolution. He argues that the power shift to the centre is accelerated by the Revolution, which is destroying democratically elected local authority provision and enhancing the power of the Secretary of State to arbitrary levels. The rhetoric of the all powerful head teacher in control of the school is contradicted by centrally determined priorities, notably EBac, and the power of the media to represent the school to its community by performance tables. This continues the attempt to manipulate schools which New Labour attempted by its Diploma programme, but in the context of a narrow 1950s grammar school curriculum. The autonomy given to schools is essentially operational, notably over admissions and curriculum, but is constrained by league tables and government control of finance and service delivery contracts.

 

Ofsted Inspection Inspected: an examination of the 2012 framework for school inspection and its accompanying evaluation schedule

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.2.247

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Ofsted has always courted controversy. With the appointment of a strident new chief inspector its operations are likely to remain, or become increasingly, controversial. This article provides a detailed critique of key documents which describe the new inspection regime that for good or ill will have major consequences in schools. Although in certain limited aspects they represent an improvement on the previous inspection regime, the new requirements have many highly problematic elements which undermine the integrity and validity of inspection judgements. The article argues that schools in disadvantaged areas are likely to suffer most from some of the deficiencies highlighted.

 

Does Gove Really Want to Set Us Free?

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.2.273

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This article argues that one of the central paradoxes of neo-liberalism is currently being played out in the UK Coalition Government’s education policy. Rhetoric that talks of freedoms to be enjoyed by schools and teachers is at variance with a centrally imposed, reductive view of the curriculum, continuing high-stakes scrutiny and the forcing of schools towards academy status. The coalition’s hastily constructed legislation reveals a view of education that bears the hallmark of pragmatic marketisation with such limited freedoms as may be enjoyed existing in the context of reward for the compliant and acquiescent. The article concludes with a brief – and necessary – consideration of possibilities for resistance.

 

The Stone Age Didn’t End Because They Ran out of Stone: why our children can’t wait much longer for a functional school system

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.2.285

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This article explores the reasons why transformation of the school system is urgently needed. It is suggested that the system will implode as a result of a growing dislocation between what schools need to achieve and the inadequate, if not damaging, practices forcefully promoted by increasing numbers of school leaders and politicians. Alternatively, a culture of schooling in which there is much less directed management of students’ learning behaviours and far more challenge, and therefore growth, is advocated. Let us start with the child, not with the school.

 

Re-energising Subject Knowledge

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.2.299

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The value of knowledge and the role of subjects in the school curriculum have been widely questioned in recent years, often portrayed as old-fashioned and irrelevant, especially in the face of a fast-changing global economy. This article argues that this is both limited in its view of the potential of knowledge and subjects, and limiting for those pupils denied access to disciplined knowledge, especially in particular schools and subjects. It proposes that the acquisition of knowledge through subjects remains central to pupils’ entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum, and to their ability to participate actively in our society, economy and democracy. It suggests the need for a more informed (and disciplined) policy debate founded in a balanced view of the purposes of education.

 

Towards a New ABC of Curriculum-making: a reply to John Hopkin

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.2.305

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This is a reply to John Hopkin's article in this number of FORUM on 'Re-energising subject knowledge' (Volume 54, Number 2, 2012). It argues that Hopkin does not provide sufficiently cogent reasons for continuing the tradition of a subject-based curriculum. It favours starting from defensible general aims of school education and seeing what these require in the shape of more specific aims. How far the result coincides with or diverges from a subject-based curriculum cannot be prejudged. This article also questions Hopkin's almost exclusive emphasis on knowledge aims and provides a historical perspective on this way of thinking about education and on its shortfalls.

 

The Birth of New Labour and the Death of Comprehensive Education

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.2.313

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It is argued that the creation of something called ‘New Labour’ in the mid-1990s marked the death of the comprehensive school in England – or, rather, the end of any attempt to create a nationwide system of comprehensive schools. The election of Tony Blair as Labour Party Leader in July 1994 can be viewed as THE defining year in post-war Labour history, in that it marked the point when Labour effectively turned its back on its social democratic agenda, which had included a commitment to the comprehensive reform. It can be argued that there had been a good deal of confusion throughout the twentieth century as to the exact meaning of the concept of ‘secondary education for all’ and that the Labour Party Establishment had never been unanimous in its endorsement of comprehensive education – so that, in repudiating the comprehensive ideal, Tony Blair was actually pushing at an open door. Nevertheless, when criticising the Coalition Government for its reactionary education policies, we must always remember that the Governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were involved in the creation of a bewildering array of new types of secondary school, which left the system more divided and fragmented than it had ever been.

 

Mr Gove’s Road to Privatisation: forcing primary schools to become Academies

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.2.319

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Not content with the response to his offer to outstanding schools to become academies, Michael Gove’s next move has been to force schools to become academies. Resistance from parents and the local community has made no difference. This article explains what happened in Haringey and how undemocratic the whole process has been.

 

Co-operative Schools: a democratic alternative

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.2.323

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Many fear that the pressures of running an Academy will be too great for individual schools, and that they will be forced to join chains run by private companies. These may offer hard-pressed school administrators valuable management expertise and back-office support, but seem to offer wider society little accountability and transparency. Are private Academy chains the best option, where Academy schools have been cut adrift from the support and democratic legitimacy of local authority governance? The authors argue that a democratic alternative must be found.

 

Co-operative Schools: building communities in the 21st century

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.2.327

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The recent progress of ‘co-operative schools’ both confirms and disrupts many assumptions surrounding contemporary compulsory schooling. The term itself refers to an eclectic array of schools, both primary and secondary, of which there were, by June 2012, almost 300 in England that have adopted co-operative values, in terms of governance, pedagogy and curriculum, and come together as a movement. They have emerged from within a fissiparous ecology of education which has given rise to new schools and networks, including academy schools, converter academies, free schools, trust schools and specialised schools. In this article the author argues that these changes have all offered opportunities for co-operative alternatives to be established.

 

Can We Believe the International League Tables?

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.2.341

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This article, updated and expanded from one written for The Times Educational Supplement, 10 December 2010, asks whether politicians are right to quote the country’s performance in international tests in support of such policies as re-introducing O levels. It finds reasons to doubt that the tests give an adequate picture of children’s learning, in comparison with either older cohorts or overseas peers. Nor do they provide a fair measure of schools’ success or the validity of examination qualifications.

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