The summary of the education policy proposals policies of the five main political parties reveals the weighting each places on social justice and the importance of creating a democratic, equitable education system. But on closer investigation, are the proposals new or are we seeing same old, same old wheeled out for 2015 and will they really make a difference to the creation of a fairer system of education in England? Continue reading Innovation creation or ‘same old same old’: proposals for educational equity in 2015 Party Political Proposals
Academies are “shape-shifters”[i] and the ways that this policy has shifted over time has important implications for social justice in education. What began as a targeted policy to draw investment into struggling schools in deprived communities shifted to a policy of universal applicability under the Coalition government. They created a streamlined conversion process and pushed ‘Good’ and ‘Outstanding’ schools to the front of the queue for academy status. Continue reading Academy schools, collaboration and social justice
Dominant ideas about culture and literateness, advocated by the likes of Matthew Arnold and F.R. Leavis, have been reflected in much educational and political discussion since the late 19th Century. During this period, there has been a shift in emphasis from the act of reading itself to a focus on what is being read, resulting in increasingly narrower notions of what it is to be literate, cultured and educated (Williams, 1976; Milner, 2005). These beliefs about what reading is and what it is to be a reader are the only criteria many young people have to judge their own literary and cultural lives. Continue reading Literature, Education and Socio-Cultural Representation: Refocusing the Debate
All three leading political parties are rightly pledged to address the educational attainment gap for socio-economic background. A key plank in this policy agenda for both the previous New Labour and current Coalition Governments has been academy sponsorship of struggling state schools (typically located in areas of social deprivation). As the academies programme has developed, academy chains have been promoted, having been seen by policymakers as best fostering professionalism, value for money and school-to-school collaboration across previously struggling schools. Continue reading Do sponsored academy chains support the attainment of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds?
If most people in affluent nations believed that all human beings were alike – were of the same kind, the same species – then it would be much harder to justify the exclusion of so many people from so many social norms. It is only because the majority of people in many affluent societies have come to be taught that a few are especially able, and others particularly undeserving, that current inequalities can be maintained. Continue reading The myth of inherited inequality
National governments believe that higher levels of education and skills are necessary for successful international economic competition and all young people are expected to invest in their own human capital, learn new skills and compete with each other in stratified education systems and uncertain job markets. As education systems have expanded so too have the ‘industries’ dealing with those who have difficulty in learning to required levels, fail to achieve to constantly raised qualification levels, or acquire one or more of the ever-changing labels bundled into the ‘special education needs/disability’ category. Continue reading Repeat performance: Special education, lower attainers, race and class
Under the Coalition government local authorities (LAs) have been disempowered and marginalised. This post argues for the re-empowerment and democratisation of the role of LAs under a Labour government on two interrelated grounds: educational effectiveness and civic democracy.
Various forms of school support partnerships have spread, but without centralised local coordination and direction support can be patchy due to competition and lack of capacity [1, 2, 3, 4]. The marginalisation of LAs, the spread of academies and the coercive pressure of the ‘standards’ agenda depoliticises LAs and minimises local democratic accountability. Continue reading Democratising the local school system