When private interests into public education simply do not go: The Caroline Benn Memorial Lecture 2015

This year’s lecture will have an international perspective. It will look at why it is that education is not making the contribution that we would hope for towards more equal and democratic societies worldwide.

It will consider “consider three ways in which this is occurring in education: the deepening involvement of profit-making firms in education provision; the promotion of private interests in national and global education policy-making spaces; and the enclosure of political space that limits public scrutiny and accountability”.

Professor Susan Robertson

Professor Susan Robertson

The lecture will be delivered by Professor Susan Robertson of Bristol University. Professor Robertson is founding Director of the Centre for Globalisation, Education and Societies at the University of Bristol. Her work centres on the interface between education, politics and economic pressures. You can read more about her work at http://susanleerobertson.com/. Continue reading

Labour’s Lucy Powell: we will fight any Tory revival of selective schools

Lucy Powell, the Shadow Education Secretary

Lucy Powell, the Shadow Education Secretary

Shadow education secretary says pending decision in Kent could open floodgates, and accuses Tories of ‘complete lack of new thinking

The Conservatives will drag England’s schools into the past by reviving grammar schools, demoralising teachers and cutting resources, according to the new shadow education secretary.

Lucy Powell, who took over the education role last week following Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership victory, said Labour would fiercely contest any move by the government to allow the revival of selective schools. A decision on the proposed expansion of a Kent grammar school is expected soon. Continue reading

Tories tired cliches can’t hide how stupid the Education and Adoption Bill is

Labour MP Clive Lewis debating the Bill in the Commons

Labour MP Clive Lewis debating the Bill in the Commons

As reports begin to surface that Labour and the Lib Dems may work together to cause problems for the Education and Adoption Bill, a Conservative spokesperson said:

“After last week’s admission that they no longer trusts heads and teachers to run their own schools, Labour is now threatening to try and wreck a bill that would stop children from languishing in failing schools.”

Let’s just remember that schools in academy chains have much less freedom than local authority schools. They dance to the tune of Tory donors and hedge funds who control their budgets and their governing bodies.

Let’s remember too that sponsored academies are just as likely to be failing that other schools.

The evidence has been rehearsed so many times, it’s really tiresome to keep reading these DfE press comments. Let’s hope some sense prevails in the Lords and this ridiculous bill gets the shredding it deserves because it contributes exactly nothing to the cause of improving schools..

A guide: Forming or Joining a Group of Schools: staying in control of your school’s destiny

guidance paper The guide has been launched by the Association of School and College Leaders, the National Governors’ Association and education lawyers Browne Jacobson. Aimed at senior school leaders and governors, it points out the benefits and types of collaboration, as well as the steps that need to be taken to form a group of schools.

More than half of academies are part of formal partnerships and maintained schools are forming federations. But many schools, particularly smaller ones, are finding it difficult to navigate the new terrain. Their leaders and governors are unsure about the options available to them and are concerned about the time, commitment and knowledge required to properly understand the choices. They may also be nervous about the changing expectations on schools and concerned that decisions may be taken out of their hands if they struggle to meet those expectations. The guide points out that:

• Strong collaboration with shared accountability can lead to better progress and attainment for pupils and help schools meet rising expectations.

• School leaders and teachers can share thinking and planning to spread expertise and tackle challenges together.

• Governors can come together to share strategic thinking, to combine skills and to support each other during challenging times. Continue reading

Labour’s new leader is a friend of the SEA

JeremyCorbynJeremy Corbyn is the clear choice of Labour Party members and supporters. To general surprise, including his own, he won decisively in the first round with nearly 60% of the votes. The SEA congratulates him on an excellent result.

In his acceptance speech the new leader thanked various organisations that had backed him including the SEA. Being mentioned by the Party leader is not a frequent experience for the SEA. We hope that Jeremy’s commitment to making the Party democratic will include greater recognition of the work of the SEA. The signs are that it will. His views on education are close to those of the SEA and that should enable it to play its part in shaping Labour’s education policies under a new leadership. That could be an exciting prospect. Continue reading

Next SEA Meeting in Doncaster

DoncasterRailwayStationThe next SEA meeting will be on Saturday 12th September. It will be in Doncaster at Doncaster Trades – see http://www.doncastertrades.co.uk/location.html for details of the location.

The programme for the day is:

  • Finance Committee at 11.00 am
  • Executive Committee at 12.15 pm
  • Members meeting at 2.00 pm until 4.00 pm.

As our guest speaker at 2.00 pm, we will be delighted to welcome Alan Johnson MP.

All SEA members are welcome at any part of the day’s programme. This is our first meeting in this part of England for some time, so we will particularly welcome members from Yorkshire and the surrounding areas.

One warning – 12th September is St Leger day at Doncaster so early booking of transport might be sensible!

What the government says about sponsored academy performance.

from Martin Johnson

AcademiesNotTheAnswerThere 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