FORUM
ISSN 0963-8253


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Volume 54 Number 3 2012

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

 

Michael Fielding. Editorial, pages 347–353  http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.3.347 VIEW FULL TEXT OPEN ACCESS

Peter Moss. Readiness, Partnership, a Meeting Place? Some Thoughts on the Possible Relationship between Early Childhood and Compulsory School Education, pages 355–368

Robin Alexander. Neither National Nor a Curriculum?, pages 369–384

Colin Richards. Omnishambles: reactions to the second year of Coalition education policies, pages 385–396

Jon Berry. Teachers’ Professional Autonomy in England: are neo-liberal approaches incontestable?, pages 397–409

Ron Glatter. Towards Whole System Improvement, pages 411–416

John Morgan. The Political Economies of Radical Education, pages 417–428

Bernard Barker. Grammar Schools: brief flowering of social mobility?, pages 429–447

Jane Martin. London’s Jewish Communities and State Education, pages 449–463

Catherine Burke. The Decorated School: past potency and present patronage, pages 465–471

REVIEW SYMPOSIUM
Creating Learning Without Limits (Mandy Swann, Alison Peacock, Susan Hart & Mary Jane Drummond), introduced by Clyde Chitty, reviewed by Tony Booth and Colin Richards, pages 473–481 http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.3.473 VIEW FULL TEXT OPEN ACCESS

BOOK REVIEWS
The Death and Life of the Great American School System: how testing and choice are undermining education (Diane Ravitch), reviewed by Clyde Chitty, pages 483–485
Changing Schools: alternative ways to make a world of difference (Terry Wrigley, Pat Thomson & Bob Lingard, Eds), reviewed by Michael Fielding, pages 485–488 http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.3.483 VIEW FULL TEXT


 

Readiness, Partnership, a Meeting Place? Some Thoughts on the Possible Relationship between Early Childhood and Compulsory School Education

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.3.355

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At a time when the relationship between early childhood and compulsory school education is high on the policy agenda, this article questions the dominant, often taken-for-granted, relationship – school readiness; and offers two alternatives, a strong and equal partnership and the vision of a meeting place. Both are potentially transformative, inviting and welcoming critical thinking about compulsory school education as well as early childhood education.

 

Neither National Nor a Curriculum?

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.3.369

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This article examines the government’s view, as revealed in its June 2012 National Curriculum proposals, of the purposes and character of the primary curriculum as a whole. The proposals are found to be deficient in a number of respects: in their naive, selective and inflated use of international evidence; in their treatment of aims as no more than cosmetic; in their impoverished take on culture, knowledge and values; in their reduction of educational standards to test performance in the 3Rs; in their perpetuation of the damaging Victorian legacy of a two-tier curriculum; and in their characterisation of spoken language, despite what has long been known about its vital role in development, learning and teaching, as little more than ‘idle chatter’. In sum, the proposals are judged to betray contempt for other than politically-compliant evidence and to fall seriously short of what a national curriculum minimally entails.

 

Omnishambles: reactions to the second year of Coalition education policies

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.3.385

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The UK’s Coalition Government completed its second year in office in May 2012. Many of its policies and pronouncements have been divisive and are contributing to the dismantling of the state education system as we have known it. Here, reflecting George Orwell’s observation that ‘Every joke against the established order is a tiny revolution’, Colin Richards, a strong supporter of locally-maintained comprehensive education, subjects them to both criticism and ridicule through a self-edited selection of his published and unpublished letters to national newspapers – his third epistolary critique and one that covers the period May 2011 to April 2012.

 

Teachers’ Professional Autonomy in England: are neo-liberal approaches incontestable?

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.3.397

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This article is informed by a longitudinal research project undertaken with 22 teachers, four head teachers and two other related education professionals in England between May 2010 and April 2011. Drawing on 50 semi-structured interviews and some related email correspondence, the project investigates this cohort’s view of teachers’ professional autonomy. It takes as its starting point the hegemony of neo-liberal policy and the adoption and reinforcement of this by UK political parties of all persuasions. The outcomes of the project demonstrate that notwithstanding the thrust of such policy – manifested most obviously by the current conversion of increasing numbers of schools to semi-privatised academy status – teachers acknowledge, explicitly or otherwise, the prevalence of performativity and survivalism yet often retain loyalty to the concept of education as a liberal humanist project as opposed to that of a provider of human capital. In short, they manage to cling to a notion of teaching that transcends the demands of the pursuit of measurable standards. They also recognize the central paradox of the current policy ensemble embodied in the inconsistency of rhetoric from government about professional autonomy alongside strong central control and scrutiny. The article goes on to ask whether, given the expressed antipathy on the part of this government and its predecessors towards research informed policy in general, and to qualitative research in particular, it is possible that such voices will be heeded by power. There are clear implications here for teacher education at initial and post-qualification level.

 

Towards Whole System Improvement

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.3.411

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The relationship between academies, and school autonomy more generally, and the wider system is a crucial issue in the battle to improve school-level education. International experience indicates that emphasising choice and competition to drive improvement is not effective and that changing structures does not yield better results for students. A whole system approach is required based on a strong and democratic multi-level infrastructure of support and a common administrative and legal framework underpinned by the principles of public not contract law.

 

The Political Economies of Radical Education

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.3.417

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The aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 has created space for discussion for alternative arrangements of economy and society. In education terms, there has been a flowering of texts which propose radical changes in educational systems. This article briefly discusses three examples (Fielding & Moss, Radical Education and the Common School; Facer, Learning Futures; and Woods, Transforming Education Policy). Based on a reading of Dale’s (1979) discussion of how 1960s and 1970s ‘progressive education’ were limited by wider political economic structures, the article suggests that, at the present time, the ‘new spirit of capitalism’ allows for and even welcomes particular forms of progressive and even ‘radical’ change, based on ideas around participation, innovation, and flexibility. The article concludes with a set of questions to ask of schools which seek to engage in ‘really radical practice’.

 

Grammar Schools: brief flowering of social mobility?

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.3.429

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Grammar schools are increasingly remembered, especially by right-wing ideologues, as the agents of a ‘brief flowering’ of post-war social mobility. This article presents statistical, documentary and interview evidence of secondary education in the eleven plus era, and finds nothing to justify the claim that selective schools produced a general improvement in educational opportunity or social mobility. Detailed life history interviews with Don (b. 1941, secondary modern, then secondary technical) and Margaret (b. 1951, grammar) recreate the almost forgotten 1950s world where opportunity was rationed and bright children were complacently failed. Access to post-16 and university education became widely available only when governments adopted a very much more generous funding regime, and comprehensive schools removed the complex barriers to success created by selection. Nostalgic accounts of grammar schools are a classic case of recovered false memory syndrome.

 

London’s Jewish Communities and State Education

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.3.449

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The Inner London education authority was a notable example of a radical and powerful local government body from which the fight for the comprehensive principle in English secondary education emerged. Building on previous work of women’s contribution to state education in London, this articles focuses on Anglo-Jewish educator activists who helped shape the capital’s response to the policy question of how to provide secondary education for all. The author’s subjects are Henrietta (Nettie) Adler (1868‑1950), siblings Helen Bentwich [née Franklin] (1892‑1972) and Hugh Franklin (1889‑1962) and Harold Rosen (1919‑2008).

 

The Decorated School: past potency and present patronage

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/forum.2012.54.3.465

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The Decorated School is an interdisciplinary research network funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The article situates current academic and wider community engagement concerning the purpose and significance of art as part of the school building and grounds in an historical context. It goes on to discuss emerging patterns of concealment and exposure of school murals in the past and their recovery in the present. Finally, it is suggested that contemporary interest and revaluing such art is welcome but that belief in the educational power of art as part of the built environment has nevertheless waned.

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