Education review abstracts


Vol. 24 No. 1, 2011 — A New Vision for Education


Baffled at a bookcase: Alan Bennett returns to the library

Alan Bennett, playwright, screenwriter, actor, author and campaigner against library closures.


In this article the writer Alan Bennett describes the role that public libraries played in shaping his life and the debt that he owes them. Although they are currently threatened by closures, cuts and the threat of privatisation, the author argues that children today have exactly the same need for, and as much to gain from, public libraries.


The role of schools in society: A future vision of education

Karen Robinson, NUT Head of Education and Equalities.


This article considers the basis on which education policy is formulated and its relationship with wider society. It argues that education should be seen as a public good and questions the direction of travel for some key aspects of current Government initiatives. The author concludes that education should be freed from political interference if it is to offer equality of opportunity for all children and young people.


Soaring systems

Linda Darling-Hammond, the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University, co-director of the Stanford Center of Opportunity Policy in Education and the founding director of the School Redesign Network.


Despite policies aimed at improving educational performance in the United States, disparities in the school system remain entrenched and high school graduation rates are static and low compared to those of other developed nations. This contrasts dramatically with sustained and equitable improvement in other countries. In her article Linda Darling-Hammond draws out the achievements of Korea, Singapore and Finland where education policies are characterised by equitable funding, a shared curriculum and investment in quality teaching. She argues that in order to secure individual and societal success, education policy should be focused on reducing the opportunity gap and improving access to a rich, challenging curriculum delivered by valued and highly trained teachers.


The new ‘crisis of opportunity’ for young people: Why we need a national rescue plan

Ann Hodgson and Ken Spours, Professors of Education and Co-Directors of the Centre for 14+ Research and Innovation at the Institute of Education, University of London.


In this article the authors argue that the current economic context, together with government policies for 14+ education and training, have led to an unprecedented crisis of opportunity for young people. Drawing on the vision and principles of ‘Education for the Good Society’, they lay out the dimensions of an urgent national rescue plan for young people.


Teacher education: Is the glass half-full?

Jean Laight, Senior Lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University and Course Leader for the Early Childhood Education, BA Hons degree.


This article examines some of the main developments in teaching and the impact they might have on the future of teacher education. The author argues that many of the current initiatives are not necessarily new or the right way to attract teachers to the profession. She explains how expertise in practitioner research and reflective practice could empower the teachers of tomorrow, and that the re-emerging practice of child-initiated learning in early years settings might be the key to innovative teaching and learning in the future.


The future is inclusive

Nigel Utton, Head Teacher, Union Activist, Vice Chair of Kent Primary Head Teachers, teacher of Re-evaluation Counselling and Chair of Heading for Inclusion.


In this article Nigel Utton offers a critique of current Government policy which he believes is leading to greater social divisions. He argues passionately for a new compulsory and inclusive state education system, the main purpose of which is the creation of participatory, self-regulated, democratic world citizens who are driven by a deep rooted moral purpose.


Teaching out prejudice – celebrating equality

Co-chairs of LGBT History Month and Schools OUT, Tony Fenwick, an English teacher in Hertfordshire; and Sue Sanders, CHRYSALIS founder, member of Southwark Anti Homophobia Forum, and of the LGBT Advisory Group to the Metropolitan Police.


In this article the authors examine the potential of the classroom as an agency for change rather than a seat of conformity. They question why some schools are not safe spaces for their communities and look at former and current successes and failures. Addressing The Equality Act and other drivers for change, they argue for a new classroom that eliminates prejudice by celebrating equality and diversity in an inclusive environment. They believe that the struggle for LGBT equality is everyone’s struggle for equality. The new classroom will take on that struggle by making LGBT people visible, usual and vital.


A young teacher’s view of the profession

Usman Baig-Ali is a primary school teacher and Vice President of Manchester Teachers’ Association.


In this article young teacher Usman Baig-Ali explains why, despite all the challenges of teaching, and the particular pressures facing young teachers, he is proud to be a member of the teaching profession.


Urban classroom culture

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.



Vol. 24 No. 2, 2012 — A New Vision for Education


Preparing education systems for the 21st-century

Andreas Schleicher is Deputy Director for Education at the OECD and Special Adviser on Education to the OECD’s Director General.


This article summarises and reflects on approaches to school improvement and teaching discussed at the 2012 International Summit on the Teaching Profession. The Summit demonstrated how debates about education policy have become internationalised and reflected a common set of concerns: leadership, 21st-century skills, and ensuring that there is a better match between teacher demand and supply.


Schools speaking up for themselves

Brian Lightman became General Secretary of ASCL in September 2010. He previously served as ASCL President, and Honorary Treasurer.


The 2011 review of the National Curriculum was not something that the teaching profession asked for. In spite of an excellently researched, wide ranging and thought-provoking report by the Expert Panel the review was severely constrained by a remit which appeared to reflect Ministerial opinion more than a well-researched case for change. This article calls on the teaching profession to rise to the Government’s offer of autonomy and take back the leading role over what is taught in their schools.


Speaking up for teachers

John MacBeath is Professor Emeritus at the University of Cambridge and Projects Director for the Centre for Commonwealth Education.


Do we have a people problem or a systems problem? A practice or policy problem? A disjunction between the rhetoric of teacher professional development and the reality of teachers’ lives? This article explores some of the satisfiers and dissatisfiers in teachers’ professional lives and the factors which contribute to disenfranchise teachers on the one hand, and to empower them on the other. Drawing on a recent study for Education International it argues for teachers as map makers rather than map readers and for the power of the collective as counter balance to the individualistic policies which divide, rather than unite, teachers.


They never give up on you – the Children’s Commissioner’s inquiry into school exclusions

John Connolly is the Children’s Commissioner’s Principal Policy Adviser for Education and was the lead officer for the Children’s Commissioner’s Inquiry into school exclusions.


This article summarises the findings of The Children’s Commissioner’s Inquiry into school exclusions which has examined the detail of the processes in place for excluding children from state funded schools, and the factors which influence schools’ decisions to exclude a child. Underlying this work is an assessment of how far the current exclusions systems, and the changes introduced by the current Government through the Education Act 2011, are consistent with children’s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).


A crisis in Welsh Education? New approaches in harsh times

Gareth Rees is the Director of the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD) and a Professor in the School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University.


Since 1999 it was the view that parliamentary devolution had enabled Welsh Governments to pursue a wide range of imaginative policies across the whole gamut of educational provision. More recently, however, the focus of political discourse has shifted to the perceived failures of Welsh schools. This ‘crisis of Welsh education’ has provided the basis for the introduction of new policy approaches. However, in this article, Gareth Rees argues that a more nuanced analysis of Welsh educational attainment suggests that policies aimed at addressing educational inequality may be more appropriate.


Misconceptions about teaching reading: Is it only about phonics?

David Reedy is Immediate Past President of the United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA) and Principal Adviser for Primary Schools for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.


This article critiques the Coalition Government’s policy developments regarding the teaching of early reading and the phonics check imposed upon all schools in June 2012. It argues that the policies are narrow, contradict international research as well as best practice identified by Ofsted, and should be reconsidered as a matter of urgency.


Making the CASE for good local schools

Melian Mansfield is Chair of the Campaign for State Education (CASE), a trustee of RISE and Chair of the Early Childhood Forum at the National Children’s Bureau.


Schools are rapidly becoming the instruments of Government ideology rather than places where children can enjoy learning and where teachers can provide an exciting and stimulating curriculum. The extensive powers now available to the Secretary of State for Education mean that he has strengthened his control over schools, teachers, parents and children. In this article the author describes the kind of school she would like to see and argues that we all need to work towards achieving an education system that represents the wishes of the wider community, not just the Secretary of State.


Speaking up for state nursery school education

Ben Hasaan is Head Teacher of an outstanding inner city maintained nursery school in London.


Based on the findings of the Head Teacher of an inner city nursery school, this paper reflects on the importance of nursery schools, their characteristics, future and the steps needed to ensure they continue to have a positive impact on children’s lives.


Advocating for active citizenship learning in schools

Jamie Kelsey-Fry is the author of The Rax Active Citizenship Toolkit and provides active citizenship workshops across the UK.


The current global atmosphere of grass roots activism and challenges to entrenched assumptions is a gift to schools when seen through the lens of active citizenship learning.


Speaking up for services for deaf children

Jo Campion is Deputy Director of Policy and Campaigns at the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS).


In May 2011 National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) investigations revealed that almost one in five English local authorities were cutting vital specialist education services for vulnerable deaf children, despite the education budget being protected by the Government. This article looks in detail at why specialist education support for deaf children is so important, at the cuts that have been made and the impact they are having on deaf children and their teachers across the country.


Poverty and education in an age of hypocrisy

Terry Wrigley is Visiting Professor at Leeds Metropolitan University, having recently retired as senior lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. He edits the international journal Improving Schools. His books include The Power to Learn (2000), Schools of Hope (2003), Another World is Possible (2006) and as co-editor Changing Schools (2012).


This article argues that government policies have failed young people growing up in poverty, and that teachers need greater freedom to develop a curriculum which will engage and motivate them towards achievement. The article includes an analysis of flawed theories which present deficit views of students and their teachers, and outlines some principles of socially just pedagogy.




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