from Martin Johnson
There are now two key pieces of evidence from the government on the exam performance of pupils in secondary academies.
1. Parliamentary Answer
Nick Gibb recently provided a written answer to a question from Dave Anderson, MP for Blaydon: ‘… what evidence her Department holds to support the proposition that academies are better performers than local authority schools…’ See http://www.riseinformationcentre.org.uk/information-centre/standards-and-assessment and go to June 25th 2015. Continue reading
There was excellent debate and discussion of key educational issues at this year’s SEA Conference. After a scintillating opening analysis by Professor Richard Pring, the conference discussed the aftermath of the general election and started to look forward towards shaping the educational agenda for the years to come. The Education and Adoption Bill provoked much reaction and was one of the topics under review from the two speakers panels. In the morning Kevin Courtney, NUT Deputy General Secretary was joined by Eddie Playfair, NewVic Principal and in the afternoon Mary Bousted ATL General Secretary joined new MP Catherine West and SEA Vice President Melissa Benn to discuss the way ahead. We also agreed our supporting nominations for the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party; respectively Jeremy Corbyn and Stella Creasy.
The National Executive of the SEA met on 16th May. One of its objectives was to take stock of the situation following the Conservative election victory and we hope to carry a report of the proceedings soon. The NEC also had two presentations one of which was on the differences between Welsh education and that in England. This talk was felt to be so interesting and informative that we felt that it should be made available to a wider audience. You can listen to Mike’s talk from the link below.
The Differences Between Welsh and English Education
The reluctance of Labour leaders to face up to the question of selection at eleven has now gone on long enough to be a “tradition”. Even now, during a leadership contest, when you might think that Labour MPs might regard themselves as off the hook in terms of constraining their remarks within the bounds of Front Bench policy, some still say things like
We are opposed to selection at eleven, but the mechanism for removing selection at eleven in local areas is through a local parental ballot. It is very difficult in some parts of the country where we have parliamentary candidates, where we need to win seats, where a lot of local parents are signed up to this idea, wrongly in my view, that a grammar school system and a secondary modern school system somehow is better for children, but it is a fact that that exists there on the ground I’m afraid and something that we need to find a way to move that debate on and that is the way I was hoping that we would do so had we been elected.
The London Review of Books has published an interesting piece on the gradual privatisation of English Schools. It is by Jenny Turner who does not appear to start out from a strong position for or against academies and free schools and is prepared to praise when she sees that as merited. However, He considers the problems at some length and points clearly to many deep seated problems. It’s worth a read. You read the piece on the LRB website or download a pdf version.
Education Secretary of State
Nicky Morgan has wasted no time in threatening hundreds if not thousands of schools deemed to be ‘coasting’. According to a close source, ‘The first thing we will be doing is introducing an education bill, which will feature in the Queen’s Speech, in order to tackle coasting schools as per our manifesto pledge. That is definite.’ Continue reading
The Geordie Symphony School
Anyone with doubts about the tranformative power of music could not have have come across the work of the Venezuelan Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra or the South African Soweto Youth Orchestra. It is enough to listen and watch a little of the music made by young people, many of whom come from deprived backgrounds to see that this could not happen without serious personal engagement on the part of the young musicians. Continue reading