Education review abstracts


Vol. 23 No. 1, 2010 — Standing By Public Education: The International Evidence


How international solidarity networks can beat the GERM

David Edwards, Senior Policy Analyst in International Relations at the National Education Association of the United States.


The spread of the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) raises difficult challenges and questions for teachers and their unions. Collaborative responses to privatisation, free market policies, anti-union sentiment, deprofessionalisation and standardisation have taken on an air of solidarity all unto themselves. This article looks at some of the signs of increased activity among teacher union solidarity networks in the education policy front as a potential and necessary correction to commodifying trends that put the very existence of education as a right and public good into question.


Changing organisational structures: Will we never learn?

Ron Glatter, Emeritus Professor of Educational Administration & Management at The Open University.


This article examines the popularity of serial restructuring among policy-makers in school education and other fields in England. It analyses some of the reasons for its strong appeal despite the high costs and lack of evidence of benefits. It addresses diversity of school provision, the idea of the ‘independent state school’, differential autonomy, the development of school chains, relevant international comparisons and the importance of mobilising professional and public opinion in support of centrally-mandated policies.


Stop the Madness

Diane Ravitch, Research Professor of Education at New York University, historian of education.


In this article, adapted from her seminal work The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, the USA’s foremost education historian describes where she believes No Child Left Behind (NCLB) went wrong, argues the need for ending the testing regime, and sets out the case for why we need neighborhood schools.


Learning from an international perspective

John Bangs, special consultant for Education International, Wolfson Fellow at Cambridge University, Visiting Professor at the Institute of Education.


Fundamental changes have taken place in Government attitudes towards international educational developments. Governments are increasingly looking overseas for examples of education success stories. In this article John Bangs looks at the opportunities that this new willingness to engage in international debate can bring for teachers and schools. However, he warns that rather than cherry-picking examples from other countries’ education systems to suit their own purpose, governments need to learn from these examples to develop long term strategic improvements in the education system.


Finland’s school success: why don’t our politicians listen?

Terry Wrigley, editor of the international journal of Improving Schools, author of The Power to Learn, Schools of Hope and Another School is Possible.


This article looks at why Finland’s schools are so successful, with policies which are the exact opposite of the punitive surveillance system used to control English education. It examines why our politicians prefer to imitate the USA and Sweden, even though the evidence is that privately run schools do not improve standards but increase social segregation.


Does a national curriculum matter?

Mick Waters, Professor of Education at the University of Wolverhampton, Chair of the Curriculum Foundation.


This article outlines and compares the various developments in national curriculum in different parts of the world. Whilst nations compete economically, they often adopt each others’ competitive approaches. In education, which is thought by many to be a key to economic success, the development of a national curriculum is seen as a cornerstone of good education. As we in England once again debate how the national curriculum should look and what it should contain, this article highlights the features and the trends elsewhere.


International Trends in Education

Denis Sinyolo, Senior Coordinator in Education International (EI), member of the Commonwealth Advisory Council on Teacher Recruitment, Mobility and Migration, member of UNESCO’s Education for All Working Group, member of the EFA Global Monitoring Report Editorial Board, member of the ILO’s Advisory Group on Education.


In this article, Denis Sinyolo examines international developments in education, He reviews progress towards the achievement of international targets for education, looks at the financial and economic crisis, and provides an analysis of the emerging and spreading phenomena of choice, privatisation, competition and standardised testing, pointing out the real and potential dangers of these developments. He argues that putting undue emphasis on competition and standardised testing reduces education to a mere mechanical exercise, focusing on preparing students for the next standardised test, instead of providing a rich and wholesome experience for the learner.


Public Education – an ignored reality

Ramesh Joshi, Deputy General Secretary of the All India Federation of Teachers’ Organisations, member of the Commonwealth Teachers’ Group.


In this article Ramesh Joshi examines the consequences of compromising on the quality of education in return for expanding the quantity. In India untrained, unskilled, non-professional staff have been employed as full time teachers in place of professionally qualified teachers. This has led to the decentralisation and privatisation of education and it is creating a sub standard education for the children from the poorest stratas of society.


Cuba’s “Battle of Ideas” – The education system and The Revolution

Bill Greenshields, past President of the NUT, member of the Executive Committee of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign.


How is it that a small developing nation, subject to political hostility and economic embargo for 50 years, can have eradicated illiteracy within a two-year period in the sixties, gone on to meet and surpass the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals before they were even formulated, and to have built a free, comprehensive and lifelong education system with better outcomes than those of the USA?



Vol. 23 No. 2, 2011 — Trusting Teachers: Taking Control of the Profession


Trusting teachers: Learning from a bit of history

Richard Pring, former Professor of Educational Studies and Director of the Department, University of Oxford


The Schools Council, established in 1964, embodied a partnership between the teaching profession, local education authorities and the Ministry of Education for the development of the curriculum and for the continuing professional development of teachers. The two were seen to be integral — no curriculum development without teacher development, and teachers were the dominant partner. The recent White Paper The Importance of Teaching has much to learn from this bit of history.


Beyond assessment levels: Reaching for new heights in primary education

Alison Peacock, Head teacher at The Wroxham Primary School, and Leader of the Cambridge Primary Review National Network.


This article challenges the assumption that ability is fixed and measurable. The author champions the view that national curriculum levels and targets should be removed and that progress should be redefined. She argues that teachers should be empowered to plan and teach through continual use of a repertoire of assessment techniques enacted within classrooms where a culture of trust and cognitive challenge is fostered free from ranking and fear. Practical examples of the approach to assessment used at the primary school where she is Head teacher are given to illustrate an alternative approach judged by Ofsted (2006, 2009) to be outstanding.


Distorting the process of learning to read: The “light touch” phonics test for six year olds

Henrietta Dombey, Professor Emeritus of Literacy in Primary Education at the University of Brighton, and former President of the UK Literacy Association.


In this article Henrietta Dombey discusses the implications of introducing a phonics test for six year olds. She argues that focusing on the teaching of reading as primarily a matter of simple phonic rules is inadequate for the complexity of English language spelling. It threatens children’s enjoyment of reading and their ability to engage with a text. Teaching reading effectively requires a range of word recognition strategies and a balanced attention to words and meaning.


Empowering teachers, empowering learners

Beth Davies, NUT Wales Executive member, Assistant Divisional Secretary of Tawe Afan Nedd NUT and Chair of the NUT’s Primary Advisory Group.


This article examines the education system in Wales post SATs and how it has empowered teachers to teach children without the threat of “teaching to the test”. It analyses methodology used within classrooms in Wales and shows how formative and qualitative assessment works effectively in practice.


Voicing concerns, crafting solutions: Unions in the age of teacher bashing

Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.


Teachers, and their unions, are dedicated to improving all schools. Although often bashed as anti-reform, in truth they are only against so-called “reforms” with poor track records. A recent example would be underfunding a neighbourhood school with 3,000 high-needs students while opening a charter school1 in the same building for 300 new students, despite research showing the charter is not likely to be better. To bring about meaningful changes that support better teaching and more learning, teachers must have a voice. Through collaboration, collective bargaining becomes a means of enhancing the profession of teaching and crafting effective school improvement plans.


Compliance or innovation? Enhanced professionalism as the route to improving learning and teaching

Dr Tony Eaude, former Head teacher, and author of Thinking Through Pedagogy for Primary and Early Years.


This article argues that a model of teacher professionalism based on compliance is inappropriate for both learners and teachers. Instead, the author argues that improving children’s learning requires a model that encourages teacher innovation and judgement, based on a wide repertoire of pedagogical strategies. An enhanced professionalism will depend on teachers being prepared and encouraged to base their pedagogy on a well thought-through and evidence-informed approach and being trusted to exercise professional judgement.


Do our students need an English baccalaureate?

Sue Kirkham, Education Policy Specialist with the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL formerly SHA).


This article looks at the introduction of the English baccalaureate and its impact on schools. The author questions whether young people will gain anything from something which is essentially a performance measure and urges government to take a more coherent approach.


Taking charge of assessment

Wynne Harlen, Visiting Professor at the University of Bristol, was awarded the OBE for services to education in 1991.


Although assessment and reporting pupils’ achievements has always been part of teachers’ role it is regarded as less trustworthy than information from external tests. This article discusses evidence that challenges this view and indicates what is needed to increase confidence in teachers’ judgements.


Giving voice to readers: Understanding urban secondary school classroom reality

Roxy Harris, Senior lecturer in the Department of Education and Professional Studies at King’s College London, author of New Ethnicities and Language Use.


This article describes research that is relatively unusual in that it is based on a careful recording of the everyday classroom life of London comprehensive school students and teachers, complemented by the detailed reflections of teachers themselves on these scenarios. This has produced a teacher training and CPD publication.


Evidence, evidence, evidence

Steve Eddison, Key Stage 2 teacher at Arbourthorne Community Primary School, Sheffield, is a regular contributor of humorous pieces for the TES.


My friend Margaret, a successful primary school teacher for 25 years, has been driven to crimes against vegetables after a recent Ofsted visit. Their insatiable demand for evidence, evidence, evidence, is weighing heavily on the bags under her eyes. And she is not alone in her desperation, as classroom practitioners everywhere contemplate eschewing a life and the occasional opportunity for torrid sex in a desperate bid to come up to Ofsteds impossible standards.



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