FORUM
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Volume 56 Number 3 2014

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

 

LIFE AFTER GOVE

Clyde Chitty. Editorial. The Gove Legacy http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.337 VIEW FULL TEXT OPEN ACCESS

Michael Armstrong. ‘To Value Every Child in the Moment’

Robin Alexander. Evidence, Policy and the Reform of Primary Education: a cautionary tale

Stewart Ranson. Educating Democracy: conjunctures in the long revolution

John Morgan. Schooling the Crisis? Education in the Aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis

Michael Bassey. Goodbye Michael Gove

Jane Eades. Free Schools and Academies

Melissa Benn. Why the Government Needs a Little History Lesson

Richard Harris. School Admissions: fairness versus diverse types of schools, choice and own admission authorities

Keith Lichman. The Labour Party’s Blunkett’s Review: a comprehensive disappointment

Patrick Yarker. A Trojan Horse in Birmingham

Sarah Barton & Richard Hatcher. The Consequences of the Trojan Horse Affair and a Possible Way Forward for Birmingham

Paul Pettinger. Social Selection and Religiously Selective Faith Schools

Nigel Gann. Educating Ethics: the probity of school governance

Adam Morby. Changes to the English Literature GCSE: a sociocultural perspective

Michael Fielding. Radical Democratic Education as Response to Two World Wars and a Contribution to World Peace: the inspirational work of Alex Bloom

Betty Liebovich. Margaret and Rachel McMillan: their influences on open-air nursery education and early years teacher education

Jane Martin. Neglected Women Historians: the case of Joan Simon

David Halpin. A Retiring Education: on continuing to learn for its own sake

Clyde Chitty. Tony Benn (3 April 1925-14 March 2014): an appreciation http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.571 VIEW FULL TEXT OPEN ACCESS

BOOK REVIEWS
Progressively Worse: the burden of bad ideas in British schools (Robert Peal), reviewed by Patrick Yarker
The Bloomsbury Paper. The Interim Report of the Inquiry into a 21st Century Education System and 21st Century Education: a social liberal approach (Helen Flynn, Ed.), reviewed by Trevor Fisher http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.575 VIEW FULL TEXT OPEN ACCESS

Picking Up the Pieces Manifesto OPEN ACCESS http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.595 VIEW FULL TEXT OPEN ACCESS


 

‘To Value Every Child in the Moment’

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.3417

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This article takes as its starting point the assertion that the purpose of primary education is to value every child in the moment. The author examines one particular story by a six-year-old girl as an example of what this assertion implies, and of its significance for teaching and learning within the primary school.

 

Evidence, Policy and the Reform of Primary Education: a cautionary tale

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.349

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Here, at FORUM’s invitation, is the text of the 2014 Godfrey Thomson Trust public lecture at the University of Edinburgh. Its backdrop is the centralisation of educational decision-making in England since 1988 and the power and patronage exercised by the Secretary of State. Taking as examples recent policies on childhood, curriculum and standards of pupil achievement, and referring to the evidence and experience of the Cambridge Primary Review, the article revisits and tests the claim that in England educational policy is now more problem than solution. While making necessary distinctions between policy as promulgated and enacted, and while showing that across a diverse canvas some policies have been better conceived and received than others, the article identifies three tendencies that all too often divide policy from truth and the prospect of effective and sustainable action: policymakers’ selective use of evidence; the prior but as yet under-investigated mediation of that evidence by government officials as well as its more familiar distortion by the press; and the Manichaean narratives of progress, its architects and its enemies to which too many policymakers remain addicted.

 

Educating Democracy: conjunctures in the long revolution

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.377

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Democratic comprehensive education has been the target of neo-liberal governments – Conservative and New Labour – for thirty years. The project of the present right wing regime Coalition is to complete the demolition. The question before the social democratic tradition is thus to ask whether Raymond Williams’ historic ‘long revolution’ unfolding over a century and more, to create an educated democracy, is now halted or even lies in ruins. Only an analysis of this longue durée can enable understanding of how we are to remake the future. Drawing upon Brian Simon’s extraordinary history I construct different formations of education governance since the mid nineteenth century. An emergent theory of transformation is then proposed such that reforms to education and democracy need to be understood together as responses to periods of structural change, conjunctures, that generate crises and lead to political settlements: these expand but regulate participation and opportunity in order to preserve as far as possible prevailing traditions of power. The reform of education lies at the centre of the regulation of democracy.

 

Schooling the Crisis? Education in the Aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.401

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Five years on from the onset of the global financial crisis, there has been little sustained discussion of its implications for schooling. This is surprising when we consider that for the past three decades education has been shaped by assumptions about the need to prepare students for life in global capitalist economies. The consensus seems to be that students need to sit tight, study hard, draw on (if they are lucky) the reserves of ‘The Bank of Mum and Dad’, and delay gratification until the economy returns to normal. In education we see the intensification of policies to privatise schooling, develop new technologies and ‘revolutionise’ learning systems through innovation. This article explores the possibility that a return to normal is not likely in the short or medium term, and the response to the crisis is, in many countries, leading to a shrinking welfare state and a growing fear about the future. A new economic and social landscape is emerging which is based on different ways of living and relating (e.g. reduced consumption, local provision). These developments may lead to important shifts in the purposes and practices of schooling.

 

Goodbye Michael Gove

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.417

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Michael Gove was Secretary of State for Education from May 2010 to July 2014 when the Prime Minister sacked him. With strong opinions arising from his own life experiences and outstanding energy for reform, but severely limited understanding of education and a refusal to consult teachers and other professionals, he imposed half-baked ideas on the millions of young people in our schools and their teachers. We need a better way of making education policy.

 

Free Schools and Academies

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.421

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The number and range of problems associated with academies and ‘free’ schools is worrying and can be attributed to the lack of ability of central Government to oversee the increasingly fragmented education provision. In this article, the author looks at just a few of those problems which have been reported since she started to log them at the beginning of 2014.

 

Why the Government Needs a Little History Lesson

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.425

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The decision by ex-Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove to send his daughter to a state school caused much press comment and was discussed in a widely read article by Gove’s spouse, the Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine. In this piece, Vine praised non selective state education, drawing on her own personal experience and that of her friends to support this decision. Her arguments were, in many ways, sound but they also left a great deal unsaid. No reference was made to the long history of struggle within this country for high quality comprehensive education and the fact that it was the progressive left that largely fought for its introduction, often fiercely resisted by many within the Conservative Party. Thus Vine, rather like the government of which her husband is a prominent member, presents a distorted view of modern educational and political history.

 

School Admissions: fairness versus diverse types of schools, choice and own admission authorities

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.433

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This article examines the minefield that now surrounds admissions starting with a comparison of the relatively easy system of the 1950s and early 1960s and the complexity of multiple admission authorities of today. Taking evidence from a range of agencies, including government official bodies, and admission issues, the article aims to show that a major factor in non-compliance with good and fair admissions practice is the rise of ‘own admission authorities’. Their increase comes directly from structural changes to the provision of schools. The article concludes that to deal with the problem, an incoming Labour government cannot ignore those changes. The article supports the proposal of Comprehensive Future for a root and branch review of admissions.

 

The Labour Party’s Blunkett Review: a comprehensive disappointment

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.445

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David Blunkett’s Review of Education Structures for the Labour Party recognises that there is a chaotic and unsatisfactory situation in the English education system but its response is ambiguous and self-contradictory. Its proposals seek to normalise and regulate rather than remedy a system in which lack of democratic accountability, unfair school admissions and selection and creeping privatisation have become the trend.

 

A Trojan Horse in Birmingham

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.451

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Pat Yarker gives an account of two official reports into the highly complex ‘Trojan Horse’ affair in BIrmingham.

 

The Consequences of the Trojan Horse Affair and a Possible Way Forward for Birmingham

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.457

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The UK government seized the opportunity of the Trojan Horse affair to launch a damaging Islamophobic attack, eagerly relayed by a racist press, on the Muslim community in Birmingham and beyond, abusing Ofsted and the Prevent strategy as blatant instruments of ideologically-driven policy. The various reports found no evidence of radicalisation or extremism but did find evidence of governance malpractice in some schools, informed by conservative Muslim views and enabled by the lack of local accountability of governing bodies as a result of the government’s policies of academy autonomy and disempowered local authorities. The debate now is focused on moving forward, and this article ends by proposing that a Children’s Zone approach offers a strategy which ensures that the community is centrally involved in a new democratic partnership.

 

Social Selection and Religiously Selective Faith Schools

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.473

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This article reviews recent research looking at the socio-economic profile of pupils at faith schools and the contribution religiously selective admission arrangements make. It finds that selection by faith leads to greater social segregation and is open to manipulation. It urges that such selection should end, making the state-funded school system more inclusive and reducing disadvantage.

 

Educating Ethics: the probity of school governance

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.485

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The privatisation of state education in a variety of ways has introduced a range of risks to school governance and management which have not previously existed in the public service. State-funded education is in danger of losing its standing on the moral high ground as a public good delivered almost exclusively by individuals committed to ethics above self-interest.

 

Changes to the English Literature GCSE: a sociocultural perspective

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.499

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Various sociological frameworks strongly suggest that recent changes to the English literature GCSE syllabus content will have a detrimental effect on those individuals who come from an environment with few sources of educationally exchangeable literary and linguistic cultural capital. In an attempt to provide a more sociological position from which to understand the situation, this article attempts to correlate a number of these frameworks, concluding that although more research would be necessary to reach a definitive conclusion, it is difficult to see how the recent GCSE changes will help (relatively speaking) those from an environment lacking in such capitals. It also suggests that perhaps a more vigorous system of policy surveillance is necessary if any future changes are to be properly and effectively addressed by the stakeholders in question.

 

Radical Democratic Education as Response to Two World Wars and a Contribution to World Peace: the inspirational work of Alex Bloom

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.513

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A key contributor to the 1948 New Education Fellowship The Teacher and World Peace submission to UNESCO, Alex Bloom is one of the most remarkable pioneers of radical democratic education of the twentieth century. In many important respects, Bloom’s internationally renowned work from 1945-55 at St George-in-the-East Secondary Modern School in the East End of London can be seen as an iconic example of education for peace. Wounded in World War I, a teacher and then head teacher between the two World Wars and during World War II, this article explores key aspects of his commitment to a form of democratic education that was both a response to two great conflagrations of the twentieth century and a contribution to the possibility of less destructive ways of living and learning together in the future.

 

Margaret and Rachel McMillan: their influences on open-air nursery education and early years teacher education

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.529

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Rachel and Margaret McMillan created an open-air nursery in Deptford, London that has influenced early years education for 100 years. Their vision for young children living in poverty and deprivation to have access to fresh air through outdoor learning, nutritious meals, and an enriching environment to explore and develop has been embraced and interpreted internationally since its inception. This article explores the founding of the nursery, the ethos behind the practice, and the influence the open-air nursery has had on contemporary early years practice in England.

 

Neglected Women Historians: the case of Joan Simon

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.541

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Joan Simon (née Peel, 1915-2005) was the life-long partner of Brian Simon who helped launch FORUM in September 1958. Like Brian, she embraced a Communist outlook and engagement in the area of education. Unlike Brian, she practised the historian’s craft outside the male academic hierarchy. Based on newly available personal papers this study sprang from my interest in the role of gender in the formation and dissemination of British social science, which I take to include the beginnings of economic and social history. Here the author draws attention to the scholarship and social action of Joan Simon to show how the production of new social knowledge helped shape the development and organisation of comprehensive education. The article is part of a larger project exploring the historical connections between university-based research and reformist efforts in the expanding and partially overlapping worlds of social studies and social action in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

 

A Retiring Education: on continuing to learn for its own sake

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2014.56.3.567

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This article reflects on a fairly recent continuing education experience, seeking to identify some general principles for getting the most out of an approach to learning that has objectives which celebrate the acquisition of new knowledge for its own sake, rather than with a specific end in view, such as the attainment of a qualification.

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