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
Vocational education, education, education is one of the new best solutions for both Conservative and Labour parties in the lead-up to the next election. Intermediate skills for middle-skilled occupations are expected to address the needs of employers, and overcome unemployment and under-employment, particularly amongst young people, where the unemployment rate remains close to 20%. It may seem strange to suggest that vocational education and training is the solution to achieving these skills for the Coalition Government, in the light of Alison Wolf’s very public vilification of vocational qualifications used in schools. But there is a quiet revolution taking place in 14-19 education, which has created dedicated vocational routes from the age of 14. Continue reading Can renewed interest in vocational education and training lead to its revitalisation?
The history of English education is very much a history of social class and the 1944 Education Act, the wartime government’s response to the great evil of ignorance, did little to interrupt that history, rather it brought about a very modest loosening of the relationship between social class and educational opportunity. This was partly in relation to the raising of the school leaving age and partly by allowing some working class students access to grammar schooling via the 11+ examination system. Continue reading Education, justice and democracy: the struggle over ignorance and opportunity
A socially just educational system is one premised on the maxim that a good education is the democratic right of all rather than a prize to be competitively fought over. It is also one which seeks to value and enhance children’s well-being as well as their intellectual growth. Yet, current education policy has intensified educational cruelties in schooling. There are many examples but my research has focussed on two in particular. First, testing regimes in primary schools has shown that assessment procedures have powerful effects on how students come to see themselves as learners. Continue reading Socially just education
More than forty years ago, Basil Bernstein rightly pointed out that ‘education cannot compensate for society’. Then, in 1997, an early critic of New Labour’s attainment targets argued that a serious programme to alleviate child poverty would do far more for school attainment than any modest intervention in schooling itself. Yet politicians still seem to expect schools to equalise life chances in a stratified society. Continue reading Schools, society and social justice