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Volume 57 Number 2 2015

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

 

Education in a World Wracked by Crisis

Howard Stevenson. Editorial. Education: looking beyond (the) election(s), pages 127-129 http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2015.57.2.127 VIEW FULL TEXT OPEN ACCESS

Susan Robertson. Education in a World Wracked by Crisis, pages 131-133

Pavlos Charamis & Themis Kotsifakis. School and Young People in Greece at Times of Crisis: the repercussions of Memorandum policies, pages 135-146

Halil Buyruk. Current Developments in School Education in Turkey: education ‘reforms’ and teacher trade union responses, pages 147-165

Carol Caref & Kristine Mayle. Learning Lessons from Chicago, pages 167-178

Alison Milner. ‘That’s not what I am’: teacher reflections on purpose, practice and professionalism in the Swedish free school system, pages 179-190

Fintan O’Mahony. That was the Crisis: what is to be done to fix Irish education now?, pages 191-196

Terry Wrigley. Gove’s Curriculum and the GERM, pages 197-204

Pat Thomson. Poverty and Education, pages 205-207

Peter Moss. For a New Public Early Childhood Education, pages 209-212

Eddie Playfair. Market Madness: condition critical, pages 213-225

Alex Kenny & Baljeet Ghale. Prevent and ‘British Values’, pages 227-231

Colin Richards. More Outstanding Nonsense: a critique of Ofsted criteria, pages 233-238

Phil Taylor. All Above Average: secondary school improvement as an impossible endeavour, pages 239-249

Andrew Richards. What Value ‘Value Added’?, pages 251-255


 

Education in a World Wracked by Crisis

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2015.57.2.131

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The author argues that there have been major challenges to, and changes in, the role that education now plays in societies around the world. Pointing to growing social inequalities in countries like the USA and Europe, she explores the dynamics that have given rise to these education inequalities through a critical focus on five crises. She concludes by calling for imagination about how to develop a very different kind of society through more socially-just institutions.

 

School and Young People in Greece at Times of Crisis: the repercussions of Memorandum policies

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2015.57.2.135

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Greece constitutes, in many respects, an indicative case of implementing neoliberal policies in Europe in the main sectors of politics and economy, as much as in the more specific sector of education. This article starts from a number of significant issues Greek public education has been facing in recent decades. Next, it focuses on analysing the impact of the policy enforced in Greece during the Memorandum era along two basic axes, given their direct interrelation: the educational institutions and the ages of childhood and adolescence. In light of recent developments, the study concludes by formulating final thoughts and concerns.

 

Current Developments in School Education in Turkey: education ‘reforms’ and teacher trade union responses

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2015.57.2.147

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Education ‘reforms’ have been accelerated in the last decade in Turkey. Teachers, as the main actors of the education system, have developed a variety of responses to the reforms implemented in the field of education, both individually and collectively. They give directions to the change process in education by means of their trade unions. The unions have played important roles in the generation and implementation of educational policies with the strategies that they have developed. This article aims to analyse current developments in school education in Turkey and teacher trade union responses against the ‘reforms’. For this aim, firstly, the general structure of the education system in Turkey will be identified followed by an analysis of the neoliberal policies that are a feature of the Turkish system. Finally, teacher trade unions’ attitudes, compliance and resistance towards the ‘education reforms’ will be addressed in the context of the local dynamics of Turkey.

 

Learning Lessons from Chicago

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2015.57.2.167

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This article describes how the Chicago schools system has been bedeviled by the social conditions faced by the city’s inhabitants, and now by attempts to use privatization and school closures as the ‘solution’ to those problems. The article describes how teachers in the Chicago Teachers’ Union combined with community members to challenge the neo-liberal restructuring of the city’s schools.

 

‘That’s not what I am’: teacher reflections on purpose, practice and professionalism in the Swedish free school system

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2015.57.2.179

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In this article, four teachers reflect on what it means to work in a for-profit free school in Sweden. These narratives corroborate concerns about educational inequity and academic standards within the free school system. Equally, they reveal how teachers struggle to negotiate a professional identity within a competitive school market where social ideals and institutional practices often conflict.

 

That was the Crisis: what is to be done to fix Irish education now?

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2015.57.2.191

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In 2008 Ireland found itself in the forefront of the Eurozone crisis. The impact on education has been profound. In this article it is suggested that Ireland’s education problems long pre-date the economic crisis and current ‘reforms’ are about long-term neoliberal restructuring, not short-term solutions to immediate economic problems. Rather than treat teachers as the problem, there is a need to work with the profession and to reclaim the value of education for its own sake. Teacher unions are central to mobilising around this much more optimistic vision of education.

 

Gove’s Curriculum and the GERM

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2015.57.2.197

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This article examines the complex relationship between England’s new National Curriculum and the neoliberal reform of education known as GERM. It explores contradictions between economic functionality and Gove’s nostalgic traditionalism. It critiques the new curriculum as narrow, age-inappropriate, obsessed with abstract rules, and poorly focused on enquiry and problem-solving: though battery-farming young children, it is therefore unlikely to lead to the cognitive development tested by PISA. Written just before the UK general election, its messages remain important as guidance for action and resistance.

 

Poverty and Education

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2015.57.2.205

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In this article the author discusses the multiple ways in which the enduring, and increasing, problems associated with child poverty blight young people’s educational opportunities in the school system. Current policies, supported by a sympathetic media, blame individuals for their poverty, and blame teachers when they fail to ‘close the gap’. The article concludes that these problems can only be addressed by increasing resources devoted to tackling poverty, and developing a more supportive and sophisticated approach to those schools facing the biggest challenges.

 

For a New Public Early Childhood Education

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2015.57.2.209

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In this article the author highlights the problems that have arisen from a fragmented and incoherent development of early years provision. These problems are compounded when early years education is cast in terms of ensuring children are ‘school ready’, by which it is meant ready to be developed as human capital in a world driven by economic imperatives. The author argues that there is an urgent need for provision that is not only coherent, but much more focused on the rich and diverse needs of children in a democratic society.

 

Market Madness: condition critical

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2015.57.2.213

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For over a quarter of a century there has been a creeping marketization of the English education system. No part of the system remains unscathed. In this article the consequences of marketization are set out clearly and alternative models of the future are presented. The author calls for another ‘Great Debate’ – but one that mobilises community enthusiasm for the aims of education and which seeks to refashion an education system based on a clear commitment to the public good. The condition of English education is critical. It has been weakened by pathological marketization and is in desperate need of treatment to restore it to health. In this article, the author tries to diagnose the disease, describes some of its symptoms and effects on various parts of the system and finally offers two possible prognoses for the patient; a turn for the worse and the start of a recovery.

 

Prevent and ‘British Values’

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2015.57.2.227

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At the recent National Union of Teachers’ conference the role of the Prevent strategy and the introduction of ‘British Values’ in the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills framework emerged as key issues for delegates. Two of the speeches made at the conference are presented here.

 

More Outstanding Nonsense: a critique of Ofsted criteria

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2015.57.2.233

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The Office for Standards in Education’s most recently published criteria for ‘outstanding’ teaching are scrutinised and found wanting. They are seen as unrealistic for teachers to meet and equally unrealistic as criteria for use by inspectors. An explanation is offered as to why they are framed as they are and an alternative, more realistic and meaningful way of categorising schools and reporting findings is outlined.

 

All Above Average: secondary school improvement as an impossible endeavour

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2015.57.2.239

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This article argues that secondary school improvement in England, when viewed as a system, has become an impossible endeavour. This arises from the conflation of improvement with effectiveness, judged by a narrow range of outcome measures and driven by demands that all schools should somehow be above average. The expectation of comparable year-on-year examination results at age 15/16 in order to maintain standards of performance persists in uneasy tension with calls for continual improvement. The examination system acts as a limiter and sorter, with students, teachers and schools competing for grades that are constrained to a normal curve. GCSEs and their equivalents increasingly serve less to allow young people to demonstrate their achievements and more for holding schools and teachers to account. This has major implications for the justifiable desire that all our youngsters should learn in a ‘good’ school, which adds value and narrows gaps. As some schools push forward in improving these measures, others inevitably roll back. Questions are raised regarding the sense and wisdom in maintaining the current situation, aimed at shaking off our normal-curve and above-average conditioning.

 

What Value ‘Value Added’?

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2015.57.2.251

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Two quantitative measures of school performance are currently used, the average points score (APS) at Key Stage 2 and value-added (VA), which measures the rate of academic improvement between Key Stage 1 and 2. These figures are used by parents and the Office for Standards in Education to make judgements and comparisons. However, simple statistical analysis suggests that the measures are correlated and, therefore, schools with high APS values have high VA. This calls into question whether the measures are objective and valuable as a means of assessing a school’s efficacy.

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