February 27, 2015
February 22, 2015
Post for Reclaiming Schools
Schools have been criticised by government ministers and Ofsted for not doing enough to promote apprenticeships, but do they serve as a real alternative to university? Our research shows that most apprenticeships are low-skilled and ‘dead-end’ and don’t guarantee employment after completion.
There are of course some very good schemes that lead to well-paid skilled jobs, but these are massively over-subscribed, with BT and Rolls Royce apprenticeships attracting more applicants per place than Oxford engineering degrees. The employment areas where apprenticeships are more likely to be available are in routine office work, health and social care, or retail. Engineering apprenticeships are still in short-supply and in 2013/14 there were under 15 000 starts in the construction industry. As a result, overall apprenticeship vacancies are still well short of the number of applicants……..
Martin Allen and Patrick Ainley have also contributed to the new issue of Forum
February 13, 2015
It’s Ed Miliband’s commitment to limiting primary school class sizes that’s received most attention, alongside his pledge to protect the education budget www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-31431456.
Yet in his speech, delivered at his old school, Haverstock in Camden, Miliband also backed more personal, social and citizenship education, arguing that school should be more than just about passing exams. In doing so he also hinted that Labour would give 16 year olds the vote –an initiative which would surely lead to pressure for greater democracy and more say for young people, over the way schools are run.
But in attacking Michael Gove’s reforms as ‘narrow and backwards looking’, Miliband simply ground-out Neo-liberal Blairite rhetoric about the role of education (the ‘passport to success’) in providing the skills to enable young people to compete in the global market place and reiterated the now redundant post-war social democratic ideals about education’s role in challenging social inequalities and promoting more social mobility.
Ignoring the realities and implications of economic decline, downwards social mobility, increased poverty and labour market stagnation, this means that schools will continue to be pushed to ‘improve’ using data-driven targets, reinforced by Ofsted inspections, league tables and with teachers pay being tied to pupil performance. In rejecting ‘sausage machine’ schooling, whatever Tristram Hunt may think, Natalie Bennett and the Greens are far in advance of Labour.
February 2, 2015
Last week’s secondary school league tables began to bed down the first of Michael Gove’s examination changes for 14-19. The 2014 tables excluded performances in resits or in BTEC style vocational qualifications –and gave further prominence to English Baccalaureate subjects. As a result many schools found that though their overall performance in exams had improved, they’d slid down the league and more are ‘failing’. By 2016 the tables will be rank schools according to the ‘eight’. This will be performance in the EB plus three other subjects deemed sufficiently ‘rigorous’ (read ‘academic’ with end of course written examinations).
Much of the media attention given to this year’s tables however has been hogged by the top private schools –largely because they’ve continued to do the old ‘unregulated’ syllabuses for International GCSEs (IGCSE). No longer allowed in tables, many privates are now also failing http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-31023685
The tables have not been designed to regulate these schools however, but to impose a ‘grammar school’ curriculum across the state sector and more importantly to create new categories of failure and of course, the option of imposing further sanctions on those that don’t make the grade.
With the current Secretary of State Nicky Morgan now promising new ‘11 plus’ requirements if the Tories are re-elected, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31079515 we’re moving even further to an education system based on regimentation and social control rather than encouraging innovation and social aspiration. This is appropriate for a society where social mobility has gone in to reverse and high rates of youth unemployment have become the norm.
January 28, 2015