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
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?
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
We must reduce the educational attainment ‘gap’! I agree – 21% of the poorest fifth managing to gain five good GCSEs compared to 75% of the top quintile is unacceptable. Recent government strategy has been to provide schools with a ‘pupil premium’, money for each child receiving free school meals, for the school to use on interventions that raise attainment. I know from our DfE funded research that this is extremely valuable for many schools, although for others it does not come near making up for the fall in funding. Not all children on free school meals underachieve and schools have been wise in the targeting of support to those who need it. But we need a different solution to really make a difference. Continue reading Children’s Zones…Children’s Communities