FORUM

For over 60 years FORUM: for comprehensive education has been the pre-eminent focal point for topical and informed analysis – very often highly forthright and critical – of all aspects of United Kingdom government policy as it influences the education of children from primary through to higher education.

FORUM vigorously campaigns for the universal provision of state-provided education, and seeks to identify and expose all attempts to overturn the gains of the past years. Every teacher, headteacher, administrator, parent, or governor should read this exciting publication.

Access to the full text of articles published within the last 3 years is available only to those who have a personal subscription or whose institution has a Library subscription. However, all articles become completely free-access 3 years after first publication.

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FORUM Volume 62 No. 3

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Editorial. What the Virus Taught (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2020

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English Education in the Time of Coronavirus (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2020

This article looks at the consequences of COVID-19 for English education and the injustices it has illuminated. Homeschooling under the pandemic has revealed significant inequalities of class and race. The article maps these, particularly in relation to online learning and the differential class and racial access to education during the school lockdown. Drawing on R.H. Tawney, it then explores the barriers raised by the pandemic for socially just education in the future, and the possibilities opened up.

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The Resilience of Maintained Education in England in the Face of a Worldwide Pandemic (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2020

The author has drawn on interviews conducted with 24 education professionals in Norfolk to present an overview of teachers' responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The teachers address the immediate aftermath of school closures from a logistical and emotional point of view. They also discuss the different strategies that schools have adopted for remote learning, and how both staff and students have been affected. Throughout the exploration of responses runs a thread of concern around well-being, as well as the possibilities for education change in the future.

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Thoughts on a Playful, Curiosity-Led Curriculum: a walk in Sheffield in May 2020 (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2020

This is a meditative piece generated by a walk in Sheffield during the pandemic. The author explores the notion of curiosity and considers what a curiosity-led curriculum might be like, contrasting it with current schooling practices in England. She links this to playful pedagogies and echoes the call for a pedagogy left in peace, then concludes with a discussion about the need for utopias and for hope.

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Imagining a ‘New Normal’ Free from Judgement and Blame: creating sustainable partnerships with students and parents (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2020

This article is a reflective piece. It asks questions to support discussions in staffrooms and team meetings about what a 'new normal' could look like in schools. The author advocates a better partnership between teachers, students and parents in which they adopt a more equitable relationship built on mutual respect and trust - a partnership where they really examine what 'good' learning looks like. The author would like readers to consider the harm done by current derisive discourses around 'lazy teachers' and 'incompetent parents'. The widespread and overwhelmingly negative attitude to children being at home for this extended period and the assumptions about the 'damage' it has done to children and young people are not conducive to building positive, healthy partnerships. The author writes as an educator and as a parent, drawing on her experiences of school closure during the current pandemic.

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Levelling the Education Playing Field: involving parents to make the difference (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2020

Following the nationwide lockdown, one thing is clear: the progress that children have made in terms of their learning varies hugely, further entrenching the educational inequity that exists and which fuels the lifelong social and economic divide. Drawing on research indicating that parental involvement in their child's learning makes a difference of two to three years to that child's progress, Fiona Carnie asks whether schools in the United Kingdom, and particularly in England, could do more to build a genuine partnership with parents. Citing examples from elsewhere, she argues that it is time to take parent participation in education seriously if we are to have any chance of levelling the playing field.

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Fear, Hope and Making the Best of It: reflections on working in initial teacher education under lockdown (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2020

This article illuminates and reflects on the vicissitudes of home learning and online teaching. It focuses on challenges which confronted those whose work on initial teacher education courses was disrupted by the pandemic and subsequent lockdown. It underlines the value of creative writing and empathetic relating as mainstays of the post-viral recovery.

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Where Do We Go from Here? A Postcard from France in the Grip of the Pandemic (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2020

Patricia Floriet, who taught for 22 years at the Institute for Political Sciences in Grenoble, sends these observations and reflections on the way the pandemic has affected all those connected to education in her village in south-east France.

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Could This Be the End of Schools as We Know Them? Another Way Is Needed (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2020

The crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic opens an opportunity to reconsider fundamental questions about education and society, and to remake schools as more vital, life-enhancing, humane and creative places dedicated to benefitting the child rather than fitting the child to the system. What is education's purpose? What are the best learning environments for our children and young people? How should we understand equity in relation to our education system?

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The Centre Cannot Hold: primary teachers, educational purpose and the future (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2020

As part of a wider research project, early career primary teachers were asked to rank various teacher responsibilities and characteristics in terms of importance. The participants showed a high level of attachment to the concept of 'the future', and struggled to perceive education as disassociated from preparedness. The future was firmly at the centre of their teaching practice. A year after conducting this research, the future was suddenly interrupted. With the arrival of COVID-19 came the cancellation of phonics screening tests and national curriculum assessments (SATs), and a realisation that the future in teaching is perhaps less predictable than previously assumed. In this article, the author listens again to the voices of the participants in order to illuminate a future orientation within the teaching community that she believes, in the light of recent events, cannot hold.

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Beyond the Tyranny of Testing: towards a relational orientation to educational evaluation (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2020

During the COVID-19 lockdown, schools are closed, exams have been cancelled, and teaching and learning are taking an unprecedented form. In this process, two realities are brought to light. On the one hand, the pandemic highlights the widening gaps in society and the part that the educational system plays in privileging students from advantageous backgrounds, and discriminating and marginalising other students who are already vulnerable. On the other hand, it also illustrates that without the constraint and pressure of exams, students and teachers are provided with an opportunity to collaborate and co-create meaningful learning experiences. In this article, the author suggests that the gaps can be addressed and the potential of innovation can be enhanced if post-COVID education is liberated from the system of production, marked by standardisation and supported by tests and grades. To move beyond the tyranny of testing, the author proposes a relational orientation to educational evaluation which is formative and transformative.

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Recapturing the Castle: looking to the de-corporatisation of schools and a post-viral revival of educational values (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2020

In earlier issues of FORUM, Nigel Gann has written on the impact of academisation on state-funded schools and the growing democratic deficit in educational leadership. In 2018, Andrew Allen and Nigel Gann wrote on the dismantling of the English education service and offered some suggestions for a new representative model. This article explores some of the outcomes of the fragmentation of school provision and identifies the seven deadly sins enabled by the corporatisation of English schooling. It draws some parallels between the academisation process and the government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. It goes on to propose an ethical platform for an opportunistic relaunch of state-funded comprehensive community-based education following the pandemic.

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Neither Technicians nor Technocrats: pluralism and democratic accountability in schools (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2020

Whether the relationship between policymaking and science has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic remains unclear. The success scientists have enjoyed in dealing with the virus and hopes they will develop a vaccine may increase the status of some experts whilst damaging populist anti-science sentiment. Some may call for increased technocracy, where experts run the state. However, the opposite is also possible, as science is exposed as a combination of evidence and opinion, and tarnished by its association with untrustworthy politicians using it to justify their policies. This, then, would seem like a good time to clarify the scope and limitations of science in developing public policy. The author's interest is in education, where managerial practices dominate whilst a new science modelled on evidence-informed medicine has emerged, which promises to find out 'what works' to raise student attainment. But evidence has limitations and politics often influences its selection and interpretation - concerns that could undermine public confidence and play into populist hands. Instead, decision-makers should acknowledge these difficulties, take a more pluralist stance to research-informed practice, and act transparently to allow public scrutiny and support democratic accountability.

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Ofsted: a problem in search of a solution (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2020

Established in 1992, Ofsted is championed by government ministers as the guardian of educational standards in schools and colleges. Ofsted has never produced any research on the validity of its inspection judgements. Ofsted has no evidence, other than rising percentages of schools being awarded positive Ofsted grades, to support its assertion that inspection 'raises standards and improves lives'. Questions are increasingly being asked about the extent to which Ofsted judgements are a fair reflection on the quality of education provided by schools serving disadvantaged pupil intakes. The very poor teacher retention rates in early career lead to further questions about the extent to which Ofsted increases teacher workload and stress. Ofsted's attempts to react to criticism of its practices and outcomes have led to the agency adopting multiple inspection frameworks in a short period of time. There is no evidence, to date, that Ofsted has found adequate solutions to the serious problems its inspection practices and outcomes have with regard to standards of education in English schools.

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Reciprocal Responsibility: why teachers should be the people to inspect schools (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2020

At a time of great threat to the education of the current school cohort caused by the prolonged COVID-19 lockdown, the phrase 'never let a good crisis go to waste' sounds apt. Education will have to change to meet new demands. The author wishes to advance the case for teachers, fully recognised as the key workers they are, to have their professional agency afforded greater respect in relation to school inspection. Teachers should become the inspectors. The article examines the current rationale for the inspectorate - one informed by politicians who have presided over reforms to public services which incorporate the logic of the free market. The author questions how appropriate such logic is to the provision of education. He advances the case for an alternative approach to ensuring high standards in schools - one which draws on the professionalism of serving classroom teachers and resembles a collaborative learning and professional development exercise. It is argued that this could be more efficient than the current approach, which strips teachers of their professional agency as part of a political agenda of deskilling that aims to make teachers more compliant and less costly. The author hopes to stimulate debate about how the assessment of teaching can be conducted and how the voices of serving teachers can be better heard.

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When Their Only Tool is a Hammer: a school’s traumatised parents take on Ofsted (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2020

In early 2020, Wynstones School, a Steiner Waldorf school in Whaddon, Gloucestershire, was required to close by the Department for Education, following a damning Ofsted inspection report. The report reads like a horror story of educational malpractice and ineptitude. Here, the authors tell the story of this saga, focusing in particular on the highly contestable nature of Ofsted's report and the subsequent legal case brought by traumatised Wynstones parents against Ofsted, seeking a judicial review. The authors also situate Ofsted's judgements within a wider paradigmatic discussion of what are arguably incommensurable educational-pedagogical world views - and Ofsted's determination to impose its own world view on a pedagogy that rejects its narrow audit-culture proceduralism. Grave questions are raised about the impossibility of achieving educational justice for wronged or abused schools through currently available legalistic means.

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‘Children and Teachers All Felt He Was a Friend’: the early years of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Schools, 1837-70 (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2020

In the 1830s, England began to see the introduction of schools targeted at the whole population, and soon the first inspectors were appointed. Although they came from privileged backgrounds themselves, the earliest members of the Inspectorate were remarkably quick to recognise and address the challenges faced by teachers in elementary schools. Inspectors were welcomed for the advice and support they offered, so much so that - in what was to become a familiar story - they were attacked and subverted by politicians and officials. This article offers a fresh and vivid insight into the nature of school inspection at that time, and the inspectors who carried it out.

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The Real Reason Neo-liberalism Became Extinct: a curious educational history of 2020 (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2020

There is a Gary Larson Far Side cartoon entitled 'The Real Reason Dinosaurs Became Extinct'. It shows three dinosaurs surreptitiously smoking cigarettes. Why would such a peripheral habit like burning some leaves cause an extinction? Like dinosaurs, neo-liberalism has had a bad press. There have been plenty of critiques of neo-liberalism, and plenty of models of post-neo-liberal societies. The author proposes that 2020 will be the year that - surprisingly - marks the extinction of neo-liberalism. The future is for everyone to make, but from the perspective of the future, looking back, it may seem obvious that 2020 marked not only the deaths of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people as a result of a new virus, but also - oddly, accidentally - the death of the whole system of neo-liberalism. This article therefore presents a very brief history of educational changes from a long-distant future, a history pivoting around the year 2020. It describes how curiosity killed the SAT, how it was miraculously rediscovered that people care, and how schools prioritised care and curiosity in community. It is possible for everyone to dream.

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BOOK REVIEW: Pushing Back to Ofsted: safeguarding and the legitimacy of Ofsted’s inspection judgements – a critical case study (Richard House) (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2020

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Introduction (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

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Editorial. Education in a Time of Climate Crisis (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

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Student Agency around Climate Action: a curriculum response (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

Students around the world have led protests over inaction on climate change. They have done this through 'climate change strikes'. These actions raise larger questions about young people's perception of the relevance of schooling to their concerns. What should and could be the response of schools? What would it take for students to recognise that schools were supporting them to not only know about these concerns, but to act effectively around them? What would it take for education to remain relevant for all young people and be seen to be equipping them with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to make those changes today? This article suggests some principles, and some possible curriculum approaches, around renegotiating the purposes of education with young people. It asks of young people: 'What would it take for this school to address our issues of concern, so that you didn't have to walk out?'

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The Daintree Rainforest (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

The wonderful plants and animals of the Daintree Rainforest in Queensland, Australia, are at risk of extinction. They and the rainforests of the world must be protected by taking action on climate change.

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From Coronavirus to Climate Literacy: lessons learned or welcome excuse when it comes to battling climate change? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

Climate change is an incredibly important issue that has horrific long-term impacts if necessary lifestyle and policy changes are not made now. Despite the presence of significant scientific evidence of climate change for years, many politicians are still unable to admit that climate change is real, let alone create policies to better combat this crisis. In the Australian context in particular, it seemed that politicians would never be able to put their political ambition aside to do what is best for the community and the nation. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Australian politicians have put aside their political differences and created effective policies without being bogged down by unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles. The pandemic has especially highlighted the benefits of unity, information and steadfast, consistent messaging. Australians have seen at first hand the immense power that communities, the political system and social institutions have when they are united. If this power is used to address climate change issues by advocating for climate literacy, much progress can be made.

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2040: a solutions narrative (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

Aware of the complexity of the ecological dilemmas his young daughter would have to face in the future, Damon Gameau made a documentary that was an experiment in using solutions as a motivator and an experiment in trying to kick-start the public's imagination. In this article, he discusses the film and the actions that have stemmed from it, including the 2040 Regeneration project. He sees education as central to this cause.

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How to Act in a Climate Emergency: guidance for schools (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

The climate and ecological emergency is a crisis of trust and relevance for schools as much as it is of funding and fuel. It raises issues around mental health, equality and accountability, as well as the core function of education. In this article, such issues are outlined, followed by a crisis management guide for rapid implementation that covers guiding principles, as well as practical ideas, for action on decarbonising, well-being, resilience, curriculum and staff training.

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‘Real Education Happens Outside the Classroom’?: Pacific Climate Warrior Brianna Fruean and Anna Taylor of the UK school strikes movement talk about what inspires them and how to avoid activist burnout (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

In this powerful exploration of youth solidarity, a conversation takes place between two youth activists in the climate movement: the Pacific Climate Warrior Brianna Fruean, whose island of Samoa is already affected by cyclones and floods, and Anna Taylor, who kickstarted the United Kingdom's school strikes network. They compare notes on what inspires them, share their views on what should be taught in schools and swap tips on how to avoid activist burnout.

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Moving towards Climate Justice with Pedagogy of the Oppressed (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

Climate education is increasingly being taught in schools, and groups are looking to pass climate education into law. This article looks at climate justice, a framing of the overarching climate movement, to advocate for an education that inspires action. Drawing from Freire's 'Pedagogy of the Oppressed', it makes a case for problem-posing education over the banking model of education, specifically when teaching about social issues.

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Students Researching ‘Problems That Matter’ in Their Communities (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

In this article, the authors argue that curriculum needs to change, bringing school knowledge into greater proximity to community 'problems that matter' (PTMs) and gathering students, community members, teachers and academics with relevant knowledge to work on the problem. Illustrating this orientation through a collaborative project in a local high school, the authors provide a rationale that links school knowledge with community 'funds of knowledge' - those rich cultural resources that build across family and local-community networks as people apply intelligence to conditions affecting their lives. PTM curriculum activity thus builds capacities for social-justice activism, driven by ethical care for the needs and aspirations of people in communities on the horizons of schools. However, despite the good intentions of many who educate in schools, they are not simply free to take up alternative curriculum practices, even when shown as more socially just, and effective in engaging students and building knowledge abilities useful in their present and future lives. Schools are caught up in power relations that help produce social inequality. Policies from 'above' press down into school leadership decisions and classroom practices, pushing schools into competition with each other rather than fostering care for local communities. The authors argue that schools owe an ethical duty of care to the communities, especially marginalised groups, that they are supposed to serve. Supporting young people's agency in collaborative work on meaningful PTMs can give schools impetus to align with better social purposes for curriculum knowledge activity.

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Studying the Real-World Issue of Climate Change through the Extended Project Qualification (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

This article is about the process and outcome of carrying out the author's Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). The title of her EPQ was: 'Is It Politically Possible to Keep Global Temperature Rise 'Well below 2 °C'?' - using the wording of the Paris Agreement to focus on the temperature threshold that scientists believe is safe for our planet. Detailing the international, national and local levels of politics combatting climate change, the EPQ led the author to research agreements, such as Paris, and national issues, such as the United Kingdom's electricity generation. She discusses the value of the EPQ. It allowed her to explore a real-world issue, which not only made her more engaged in learning, but gave her a greater understanding of the world we live in.

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Teach the Future (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

This article, written on behalf of the Teach the Future team, urgently addresses the importance of comprehensive climate education and its subsequent necessity in the midst of the climate emergency and ecological crisis, incorporating evidence from schools, colleges and universities, and outlining the need for net-zero education buildings, new professional teaching qualifications and a complete repurposing of the entire education system to prepare the next generation to tackle the catastrophe at hand.

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Ideas Can Change the World (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

In this time of climate change, many young children dream about finding ways to save the planet. The curriculum teaches about the problems - and about the small changes that can be made to slow down global warming. But children need more skills for the jobs of the future and to be taught how to bring their amazing ideas to life.

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From Concrete to Bamboo: my crash course through education (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

Clover Hogan is a 20-year-old climate activist, researcher on turning anxiety into agency from Australia, and the founder of Force of Nature. In this article, she talks about how education is a 'system of rote, churning out worker bees for the hive' and, through education, children are manipulated and scared into abiding by the regulatory rules. It was only when she went to Green School in Bali that she realised this, because they weren't conventional and took a more holistic approach to teaching and developing young minds by working on all three learning modalities, using the environment surrounding them. She then decided to upturn the standardised education system and show that students aren't just only made to pass exams; they are a whole mixture of things, and it's only when a school begins to develop their understandings of nature that flexibility in the system will happen. And those lessons make those students more equipped to be happy and to help the planet in every way [written by Lucy Gibbons on behalf of Clover Hogan].

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Education for Tackling Climate Change (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

Young people not only need to know about what is causing the climate to change for the worse as the Earth heats up, but also need to develop the personal skills to tackle the challenges that they may face in the future. For schools to support this effectively and in relation to community development, government control of the school curriculum must give way to collegial planning by teachers within their schools.

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The Need for Civil Disobedience and Radical Change in Education (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

This article argues that it is necessary to fight for a radical and immediate restructuring of our educational systems. Young people are currently being prepared for a future that does not exist, and we are lying to them and to ourselves by pretending that we can address the climate and ecological emergency from within existing educational and political paradigms. The author's argument that direct action and civil disobedience are essential in achieving the change that is needed might sound extreme to some people. But the consequences of inaction are far more extreme. We are taught - constantly and not only in schools - that breaking the rules is wrong. But if following the rules means conforming with collective behaviours that are rapidly destroying the living planet and our chances of continued life on it, then we must quickly learn to constructively disobey. Radical change for a more humane educational system is needed for its own sake, but, in the current emergency, this need for change is not only necessary but also urgent.

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For a Healthy Home, We Must Change Our Education Priorities (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

In this article, the author discusses the need for a complete refocusing of education throughout the world, prioritizing environmental education in all K-12 schools. He provides a summary of his Green Career Program and the many extensions it encompassed. The program endorses the importance of creating student voice, critical thinking and the education of a New Green Workforce which prioritizes caring for the health of the planet. The author believes that the Green New Deal cannot function if educational priorities are not rethought (environmental education throughout the curriculum), and presents his thoughts on the state of the planet and assisting youth to shape their future.

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From Climate Anxiety to Resilient Active Citizenship: when primary schools, parents and environmental groups work together to catalyse change (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

This article presents the perspectives and experiences of parents of primary school children who, as climate change activists, have been reflecting on the role of primary schools and actively engaging in their children's school by piloting a climate change action initiative in close collaboration with environmental organisations. At the intersection of primary education, climate change and active citizenship for social change, this article contributes to the following questions: What is the role of primary schools regarding the current climate emergency? How can primary schools contribute to building a generation of emotionally resilient, environmentally aware, proactive citizens? While the authors' professional backgrounds and work are not directly in education, they hope that reflections about active citizenship and social change can bring rich perspectives on the role of schools and formal education on climate change. The first section reflects on the unique role of primary schools regarding the current climate emergency. The second section discusses the authors' own experience of setting up a Climate Action Group of parents, school staff, teachers and pupils, and how they were able to support the school to put climate action at its core.

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Rights of Nature (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

Artist Jo Dacombe remembers a school residency when she was working as an Associate Artist at Nottingham Contemporary, a large contemporary arts centre. Through the residency, she worked with a group of primary children of mixed ages to explore themes from the exhibition Rights of Nature. She describes the experience for the children, the nature of a creative enquiry-based practice and how this process benefitted this particular group of children. The impact was far-reaching, not just developing their creative skills but also their self-confidence and personal connections with nature and how we treat the world. Jo concludes with her reflections on the benefits of creative projects to engage young children with the nature around them.

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Climate Change at the International School of Kenya (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

This article is about the efforts of Students for the Environment, which operates at the International School of Kenya. It discusses their past successes, their current plans and what they hope for the future. It includes their operations, as well as the impact they have been able to have on their school community. It also introduces some of the ways they plan to positively affect their environment, mitigate negative impacts on their environment and how it contributes to climate change.

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Young People Have the Capacity to Change the Outlook of the Planet Using Climate Education and Justice to Build a Better Future: a conversation (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

In this article, Lucy Gibbons presents a conversation between herself and a group of young people where they talk about their experiences and involvement in the YouthStrike4Climate movement and discuss some of their concerns about education in the context of climate crisis.

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BOOK REVIEW: Enfield Voices: the birth of the people’s universities (Tom Bourner & Tony Crilly, Eds) (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2020

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Editorial. Celebrating Education (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2020

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Pedagogy and Enlightenment (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2020

This article aims to connect and ground the innovative pedagogies described in this issue by looking at the meaning of 'pedagogy' in a holistic way. Drawing on a strong European tradition which originated in the German Enlightenment, it outlines deep principles such as independent thinking, criticality, freedom and social engagement. In particular, it draws on work by Wolfgang Klafki to update and adapt these principles to the urgent needs of a world in crisis. Klafki, for example, shows how education can be simultaneously challenging and learner-friendly, and how curriculum can be shaped to focus on the major issues of our time. The final part of the article challenges the reductionism of the set of ideas which underpin government policy, and the intellectual limitations of government-sponsored ideologues in their facile use of the concept of a 'knowledge-based curriculum'

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‘Pedagogy for Transformability’: a challenge to ‘psychological prisons’ of fixed learner identities and claims of ‘pedagogic naivety’? Teachers’ Perspectives (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2020

This article shares the perspectives of 18 primary teachers reflecting on their exploration of a 'pedagogy for transformability'. It highlights the social, emotional and academic impacts of this approach on children, and the pedagogic choices and thinking of the teachers involved in the project. The findings demonstrate the unequivocal potential for a 'pedagogy for transformability' to address many of the current challenges in the education system.

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Walking the Talk: moving forwards with sustained shared thinking and dialogic teaching (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2020

Dialogic teaching has enormous potential to harness the power of talk in developing children's thinking but is sometimes challenging to enact within today's policy context. Similarly, sustained shared thinking is an established and powerful practice with children in the early years but faces pressure within today's educational climate. Though closely related, the two have been addressed largely separately until now. The authors argue for drawing dialogic teaching and sustained shared thinking together more explicitly by reviewing how they are similar yet distinctive, and by offering a continuum model for practice, throughout school, which takes a dialogic stance. They suggest that this more holistic approach may empower teachers to utilise these powerful forms of pedagogy. Establishing a continuum within which sustained shared thinking and the many pedagogies of dialogic teaching align may strengthen both perspectives in the face of outside pressures and help to clarify the position of productive dialogue throughout the curriculum.

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‘There’s No Time to Talk because the Evidence is in the Writing’: fostering talk in an evidence-driven primary education culture (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2020

Pressures on primary teachers to improve writing are often to the detriment of quality talk in the classroom. This is despite decades of research emphasising that knowledge and understanding are developed through such talk. Primary teachers' experiences of incorporating the current Spoken Language national curriculum are often at odds with current policy: some are unaware of the statutory Spoken Language curriculum while others are left to negotiate for themselves how best to incorporate talk into their practice with minimal training and guidance. This article describes the affordances for all learners when talk is incorporated as a tool for learning, developing vocabulary and ideas, having a positive impact on children's social and emotional development, and fostering engagement in learning and academic progress. Drawing on a recent Master's study, the author explores the experiences of teachers as they incorporate talk into their practice, and identifies the enablers and dilemmas for teachers who place talk at the heart of their practice.

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The Humanities as an Essential Element of a Balanced and Broadly Based Primary Curriculum (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2020

This article explores why the humanities are an essential element of a balanced and broadly based primary curriculum. While history, geography and religious education make important contributions, the humanities should be seen more broadly as the study of one's own and other cultures, and so including areas such as literature, philosophy and drama. Active ways of working, such as fieldwork, observation, interpretation and discussion, as vital elements of the education of the whole child as a critical global citizen, are emphasised. The need for young children to learn many different types of knowledge in enabling learning environments and for teachers to develop a range of pedagogical content knowledge is highlighted. The benefits of single-subject and interdisciplinary approaches are considered.

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‘Mastery Mathematics’ – but Who is the Slave? (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2020

This article explores the development of 'mastery mathematics' - a significant development in mathematics in England - and opens up some questions about the intended and unintended consequences of the promotion of this approach by the government.

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The Philosophy for Children Pedagogy in a University-Based Initial Teacher Education Course: a case study of a ‘disruptive’ pedagogy (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2020

The fundamental aims and outcomes of higher education are increasingly at odds with the accountability and performative agenda in higher education. Pedagogical decisions are often taken with one eye on what students 'want' rather than what they 'need'. In this article, the author shows how she framed her pedagogical approach in terms of what students 'need' rather than just what they 'want'. The author outlines how she adapted Philosophy for Children, an inquiry-based dialogic pedagogy, to the higher education context, and why, despite the challenges of 'data-driven' practices, she continues to see it as a necessary pedagogy for higher education.

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Mantle of the Expert (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2020

In this article, Tim Taylor, a teacher and tutor for Mantle of the Expert, and Nicole Winter, a primary school teacher and course participant, discuss a long-form Mantle of the Expert course run by the National Education Union in 2018 2019. They conclude that, whilst the approach demands a lot from teachers in terms of professional judgement and investment, it has the potential to create a classroom ethos in which children are recognised as capable learners, invested in their own learning.

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Creative Activism: learning everywhere with children and young people (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2020

Creative activism is an approach to education that asks: ‘What can happen when we take learning outside the classroom and think of it happening everywhere?’ Two charities – House of Imagination and Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination – have been asking this question in their creative place-making programmes working with socially engaged artists and communities linked to primary schools in Bath and Cambridge. Young children and adults co-create and speculate about the future of their communities and environments in these different geographical locations. This article draws together the authors’ shared understanding of creative pedagogies and the value to everyone of working in this way.

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Being an Inspector is Not a Bed of Roses (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2020

School inspection has always attracted great controversy, but especially since the inception of the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted). Over the years, many voices have entered the debate about inspection, but one particular voice has hardly been heard - that of rank-and-file inspectors themselves. This attempts to offer a glimpse of their perspective through an unusual lens.

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How We Teach: the start of a longer conversation (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2020

In this written conversation, the staff of a small rural school embark on an exploration of their developing pedagogies. They consider some of the sources of their individual theories and practice, and show how they work together to challenge and support each other. They acknowledge the community of adults and children to which they belong and from which their pedagogy grows. They explore the nature of relationships within this community of learners and consider how they might describe the knowledge that teachers need and develop in the course of their work. Throughout the conversation runs the thread of trust and the part it plays in releasing adults and children to work at the furthest limits of possibility.

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Where Now for Pedagogy in England? (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2020

Forty years ago, leading communist educationalist and FORUM editor Brian Simon wrote a chapter entitled 'Why No Pedagogy in England?' In it, he argued that English education had failed to develop a science of learning, due to its class-divided history, and that the time was ripe for the development of such a science. This article revisits Simon's arguments and tries to assess the extent to which they are still valid. It concludes that, whilst there have been substantial changes over the past 40 years, the basic contention that there is no coherent science of learning in England remains true. Further, it is argued that Simon's criteria for the development of such a science once again hold, to a greater or lesser extent, and a way forward is suggested to prepare the ground for the development of a pedagogy to guide education in England.

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BOOK REVIEW Education and Democratic Participation: the making of learning communities (Stewart Ranson) (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2020

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Editorial. Keep the Faith (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2019

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Power and Conflict in the Public Realm: rethinking progressive visions of collaborative citizenship (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2019

John Dewey’s vision of education and of the school as a model for society was grounded in a commitment to collaboration. This view continues to inform the basic assumptions of progressive educators, especially in the USA. Collaboration in classrooms is offered as the basis and matrix for collaboration beyond them, in the civic realm. But the civic realm is a realm of struggle, and to overemphasize collaboration miseducates students as to its reality. This article explores Saul Alinsky’s critique of the Deweyan vision of civic action, with its alternative understanding of the place of collaboration in civic engagement. For the powerless to be heard and heeded by the powerful, collective organization and skills for engaging in conflict in the public realm are key requirements.

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Educating Publics in the Greater Community (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2019

Democratic public schooling prepares for and models collective self-governance in a complex society where the people are subject to various forms of governmental power. The common or public school is the main way democratic nations prepare their people for participation, yet in modern versions democracy is contested through school curriculum and governance practices. Examples are state-funded self-governing schools, which appear to support democracy, yet are shaped by a neoliberal ideal of school autonomy. Proposed new models of school governance that attempt to build in collectivity may still limit democratic participation. The influence of entities outside of nations challenges the view that a national system of schooling is sufficient to inform public opinion. A better education for democracy would consider how public opinion is formed, and how public opinion might be formed within a complex society. Developing a deeper and more expansive concept of the public is one place to start.

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A New Curriculum for a New Public School (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2019

This article is written in response to widespread concerns about the inadequacy of the school curriculum in England, and the urgent need to rethink what public education should involve. It builds on earlier contributions in FORUM and elsewhere by discussing curricular opportunities arising from Labour's proposal for a National Education Service. This is particularly timely given the limited horizons and understanding shown in Ofsted's call for better curriculum planning. In contrast to neoliberal obsessions with schooling as the production of human resources, and the neoconservative dependence on tradition, the article discusses how we might build a curriculum oriented to social justice, environmental responsibility and democratic citizenship. It addresses core issues such as age appropriateness; the relationship between everyday and academic knowledge; the importance of cognitive, practical, aesthetic and ethical dimensions; and how we might make a socially just and politically serious selection of knowledge. Whilst drawing on the strengths of earlier curriculum development, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s, it also points towards more recent international developments drawing on place, story and enquiry, which have been eclipsed by high-stakes accountability regimes. This broad-ranging article throws out a challenge: how to avoid retreading a traditional path of alienated knowledge acquisition and create a framework for authentic learning and really powerful knowledge.

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Commercial Realities and Ethical Discomfort: international branch campuses and the market in higher education (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2019

This article explores the evolution of higher education in the context of a growing - if largely silent - consensus at governmental level to the effect that the State can no longer afford to fund higher education. Higher education institutions are, therefore, expected to explore new funding avenues as costs are increasingly shifted onto the student and the international student market is plumbed for additional revenue. The article proposes that where commercial considerations come to drive the academic programming and ideological positioning of the university, they can present the most fundamental challenges to the underpinning philosophical precepts of higher education. The existential imperative of the university around academic freedom, freedom of expression and of speaking truth to power in the interrogation of orthodoxy can be jeopardised, particularly in the case of international branch campuses. Ultimately, the authenticity and integrity of the institution and its sense of agency and self-worth become exposed.

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A New Public Conceptualisation of Education and Care for Younger Children: bridging the public-private divide (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2019

Over the past two decades there has been substantial expansion of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) provision. This has led to significant expansion of the role of the private sector. Alongside this, there is a substantial evidence base about the importance of high-quality, pedagogically appropriate provision, delivered by highly skilled practitioners. This article argues that to provide high-quality ECEC a reconceptualisation of provision for young children within public education is needed. These changes would allow developments to build on previous reforms through an increased role for public provision as a distinct education phase, creating a more highly skilled workforce with clear career pathways and offering a pedagogically appropriate curriculum.

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Against Private Schools: culture, power and myths of equality (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2019

England's premier league of public schools, educating less than three thousand boys, started life in medieval times as charity schools for the poor. Closely tied to the Church, they found favour as institutions of social mobility. By the turn of the eighteenth century, vandalism and violence were endemic in many; misrule and abuses so common that they provoked one of the leading radicals in Parliament to demand that a proportion of their charitable income be invested in teacher education in a new public education in a new public school. Instead, former public schoolboys in the corridors of power helped ensure their survival and prosperity in the late-Victorian period and beyond. Towards the end of the 1945 Labour government, public intellectual and activist R.H. Tawney said the failure to abolish private schools would undermine the effectiveness of all the other social welfare reforms. This article takes up Tawney's challenge and provides a detailed exposition of the role and contribution of socialist activists and their forgotten radical perspective on the educational endowments they argued had been stolen from the poor.

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‘This Age of Clichés’ and ‘Equality of Opportunity … For What?’ Two articles by Alex Bloom† (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2019

Two short articles by Alex Bloom, written in wartime London, expose the easy recourse in educational policy to fine-sounding phrases - in this case 'equality of opportunity' - and offer a vision of education based on the spirit of cooperation and the common good.

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Deficit Models, Masculinity and Boys’ Achievement (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2019

Boys' underperformance relative to girls has been a major cause for concern in recent years. Some have seen the problem as linked to a dysfunctional anti-school masculine identity. The article explores this idea via a close reading of a popular text where the focus is on boys' behaviour and achievement in the context of a strategy for rethinking masculinity in schools. It suggests that grounding a definition of boys' achievement and identity in a deficit model is likely to result in the deviant labelling which most teachers seek to avoid. Moreover, this model is consonant with a view of research, curriculum and pedagogy in the current period where the constraints on the development of progressive reform are only too evident.

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The Fable of the Squirrels and the Hedgehogs (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2019

Education is so serious and important an enterprise that like life, death and taxes its excesses need tempering and combating by humour. The author believes that educational lampooning can be a powerful weapon against current orthodoxies.

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‘What Are We Doing to Our Children?’ Report on the Reclaiming Education Conference, 2018 (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2019

Reclaiming Education is an umbrella campaigning group made up of the following organisations: Campaign for State Education (CASE), Comprehensive Future, Socialist Education Association (SEA), Forum, Alliance for Inclusive Education, Information for School and College Governors, New Visions Group and Rescue our Schools. In November 2018 it held a conference, 'What Are We Doing to Our Children?', addressing the issues of the negative impact current policies have on many of our children. This article, written on behalf of the group, is a summary of the conference.

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Early Education in England: the power of politicians over policy and practice (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2019

In this article, two government education policies for primary schools in England are scrutinised, the Phonics Screening Check and Baseline Assessment, both claimed by ministers to be 'evidence based'. What has become a high-stakes test rather than a diagnostic assessment, the Phonics Screening Check, introduced in 2012, now dominates early years education in England. Pilot studies of Baseline Assessment are under way and the government's intention is to introduce this assessment for all children in state primary schools in 2020. Children are to be assessed shortly after they enter reception class and, it is claimed by ministers, this will enable the children's progress throughout primary school to be monitored. The author summarises her extensive published evidence on both policies and indicates where to locate relevant but neglected research by many others. Reference will also be made to evidence from 18 internationally recognised literacy researchers critiquing synthetic phonics as the only method of teaching reading and the Phonics Screening Check.

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‘I ain’t no clue, but we learned it yesterday’: losing our way with the Year 6 Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling test (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2019

In 2012, head teachers responded to the proposed new Year 6 Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling test (commonly known as the SPaG or GPS test) with warnings of curriculum narrowing, teaching to tests, and misery for pupils and families. Despite head teachers' opposition to the test, seven cohorts of Year 6 pupils have now taken it. This article considers the head teachers' warnings in the light of evidence from recent ethnographic fieldwork with Year 5 and 6 children in an English primary school. The history and rationale behind the introduction of the test are discussed. It is then suggested that the emphasis on teaching the concepts and terminology required for success in the GPS test intersects with schools' accountability mechanisms, leading in some settings to the teaching of formulaic writing that has little to do with meaning, creativity, purpose or audience.

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‘It was deathly dull and boring and stressful’: listening to parents’ voices on primary school testing (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2019

Many parents are unhappy with the way testing has altered, expanded and taken hold in primary schools in recent years. Some parents chose to express their objections to primary Standard Assessment Tests (SATs) in particular, through taking part in collective strike action. While research into testing abounds, the opinions of parents and their role in such activism remain less explored. This article draws from a qualitative pilot study into parental opinions on primary school testing. Some preliminary thematic analysis is presented, giving a flavour of the data. Parents are concerned with the effect and emotional stress on children, the content and structure of tests and with their broader impact on the curriculum and on classroom teaching. They are impassioned, articulate and forthright.

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Learning as Mimicry, Teaching as Coerced Compliance: the continuing damage caused by a high-stakes summative testing regime (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2019

The requirement to ready pupils for high-stakes summative testing continues to undermine and baulk teachers as they try to act in line with their pedagogical principles. For some - perhaps many - practitioners this experience is increasingly insupportable and gives rise to profound inner conflict. Test readying promotes in pupils a necessary mimicry. This falsifies the relationship between teachers and pupils on which better kinds of learning depend.

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Succeeding against SATs (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2019

The lesson to be learnt from a quarter of a century of resisting standardised testing is that educational and pedagogical issues must drive campaigning. Teachers must work together to re-establish confidence in their own ability to control the curriculum and what is offered to our children. This can only be a collective enterprise and teachers must find the spaces, literally and metaphorically, to work out how to do so. Enlisting the support of parents, researchers and academics needs to be central to their actions – as must be their willingness to see the assault on children and their education as part of the wider, ideological drive toward marketisation, privatisation and individualism.

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Expeditions, Projects and Trees: working hard, getting smart and being kind (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2019

This article reports on a short film being made for the Edge Foundation by the author. It records the innovative approach to learning taken by two comprehensive schools serving areas of high deprivation. Work in these schools integrates knowledge and skills, and offers a context in which all students, whatever their perceived ‘ability’, make effective and valuable contributions, find success, and so progress educationally.

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BOOK REVIEWS (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2019

Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me (Kate Clanchy), England: poems from a school (Kate Clanchy, Ed.), and Engines of Privilege: Britain's private school problem (Francis Green & David Kynaston), reviewed by Patrick Yarker, pages 453-460

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Editorial. For a New Education in a New Public School (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2019

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Public Education for the Common Good (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2019

The UK’s neoliberal polity is undermining the very public institutions it requires to resolve its most pressing collective predicaments, in education especially, with its essential role of enabling society to learn the virtues and practices of cooperative enquiry necessary for remaking the common good. The author begins by understanding the nature of public goods and services before discussing the damage wrought by neoliberal governance. The remaking of public education, he argues, presupposes three projects: first, inaugurating public, democratic ownership of all education; second, re-imagining public service comprehensive education; and third, reconstituting democratic public participation for active citizenship in education and community governance.

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Some Factors Affecting What We Mean by Public (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2019

After exploring what we mean by 'public', this article advances the argument that there have been two distinct periods in the post-war English schooling system and argues that the latest one, of markets and managerialism, ushered in on the back of neoliberal economic theories during the 1980s, has internal contradictions if, as both parties declare, their aims for the schooling system are to secure 'equal opportunity', 'equity' and 'social mobility'. It concludes with an argument for changing five systemic influences external to schools - namely: governance; pupil admissions; finance; curriculum exams; and accountability, and the existence in their present form of private schools - in order to make the system fairer.

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A New Public Education for England (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2019

This is an argument for a new public education for England, but not for a new public school. The focus should be on aims, not structures. We should ensure that all schools (community schools, private schools, academies and religious schools) are working to realise the same nationally determined aims. The national set of aims should be determined not by ministers but by a Curriculum Commission. Its starting point should be the protection and nurturing of a liberal democratic community. This generates a number of major aims from which the Commission will also lay down more specific ones. Schools should be free to employ their own curricular vehicles (e.g. subjects, projects, whole-school processes) and other policies in pursuing these aims.

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Building Equitable, Inclusive and Ethical School Communities in a Globalised World (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2019

Does education have a moral purpose, and if so, how can it be defined? In these troubled times, publicly funded schools which are seen to be equitable, inclusive and ethical in their practice have a key role to play in shaping a socially just world. Drawing on the education renewal currently taking place in Scotland and Wales, the author argues for a clear set of values and greater participation on the part of teachers, students and parents in building learning communities which reflect their moral purpose in society.

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Why Don’t We Love Comprehensive Schools Like We Love the NHS? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2019

In this article the author remarks on the difference in genesis between the National Health Service (NHS) and comprehensive schools. She argues that we need to develop a clear national understanding of the purpose of schools in society in order to make all-ability schools as popular as the NHS. Finally, she suggests a set of principles upon which a new public education could be built.

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Caring in Public Education (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2019

Currently the British educational system can be characterised by its instrumentalisation (of ends) and control (of means), revealing an impoverished vision of community and a lack of care. To (re)imagine public education is to reconsider what this 'public' means and signifies in practice. This article suggests that at the core of a richer and more compelling vision lies the notion of care. It re-examines what constitutes the content of our caring, and argues that to care is to direct attention to things that are intrinsically valuable, such as persons, relationships, educative experiences, all of which are comprised in our well-being. This understanding is a shift from care as a virtue and disposition, to care as valuing the cared-for and engaging the community in caring, and facilitates an exploration of a public education that is caring, in terms of its aims, values and processes, and in terms of schools as learning communities.

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Climate Change: how should public education respond? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2019

This article makes the case that schools have a critical role to play in mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, and that this responsibility should be central to any process of reimagining the role, governance and potential of public education.

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A Dynamic Citizenship Education for the New Public School (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2019

Currently in the United Kingdom, citizenship provision is meagre and, where it appears in schools, it is heavily biased towards the theoretical. This article acknowledges that citizenship education needs a theoretical aspect but argues that the new public school should complement this with more dynamic, experiential learning. The proposal focuses on a democratic way of managing political conflict, the complex practice of compromise. It considers three essential features of a good compromise: mutual respect; coping with seemingly second-best choices; and recognising sacrifice. Drawing on these elements, it argues, the new public school can offer a dynamic citizenship education through its organisation, structure and ethos. In a supportive learning environment, school students can learn attitudes of respect, empathy towards others and ways of dealing with conflict by non-violent means, develop social imagination in exploring creative and ingenious solutions to conflict and learn to cope, collegially, with disappointed hopes.

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Public Education and Non-statist Imaginaries (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2019

In this article, the author focuses on the statist imaginary associated with the defence of public education. Drawing on work on the idea of the public sphere, anarchist theory and the politics of movement, she argues that in a world characterised by unprecedented and growing levels of mass migration and displacement, a new, non-statist imaginary is needed. She explores some ways in which such imaginaries can play a role in educational thought and practice.

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What a New Public Education System Could Learn from Alberta (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2019

What does a successful public education system look like? How does it function? How long does it take to create and what are its underpinning beliefs and values? The Canadian province of Alberta is the highest-ranking education system in the English-speaking world. What can it teach us about how to construct a successful public education system? Given the vast chasm between basic fundamental beliefs about the purpose of education, how much the question of equity should be at the forefront of educational priorities, and the importance of democratic involvement and professional autonomy, is it even possible to create a similar model?

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The Socially Just School: as a way of putting the ‘public’ back into public education and the public school (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2019

This article argues that re-inserting the 'public' back into public education and public school involves the reclamation of the indigenous (i.e. native) language and practices of schools and their communities. It argues that banishing the interloper discourses of neoliberalism can only occur when schools organise themselves around the alternative discourse of the socially just school.

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The Challenge of Developing the ‘New Public School’: learning from extended schools (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2019

English school policy since 1988 has increasingly been defined in neoliberal terms, with an emphasis on markets, competition, and education in its narrowest sense (ENS). However, for a brief interlude from 2005 to 2010, school leaders were challenged by a new Extended Schools (ES) policy to look outside their classrooms and beyond their school gates and to consider education from a wider perspective. This article, based on research in four communities, examines how schools responded to this policy change, through developing ES partnerships, and engaging with community-based organisations and the community itself. The learning from this research undertaken across diverse schools and communities covering this unique period points to what a 'new public school' might be and the conditions it might need to successfully evolve.

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A National Education Service for Adults Too (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2019

This article highlights the current collapse of adult learning opportunities and the key importance of adult learning to a new public education in a fast-changing world, and makes practical proposals for Labour's National Education Service.

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Making a Co-operative University: a new form of knowing – not public but social (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2019

Calls to establish public education avoid the fact that public education is provided by the capitalist state whose real purpose is the market-based model of private gain. Public against private education is a false dichotomy; rather, public and private are complementary forms of capitalist regulation. Radical alternatives require a more foundational critique of the structures of capitalist education, grounded in an understanding of the contradictory relationship between capital and labour on which the institutions of capitalist civilisation are based. This article suggests a counter project: not public education but social knowing as the basis for a solidaristic form of social life. Our model for social knowing starts with the idea of a co-operative university.

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The Necessity of Reforming Britain’s Private Schools (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2019

The existence of extremely expensive private schools - about one in 10 of all our schools - presents a major problem for Britain's education system. A new public education system could not coexist with the current, unreformed private school system; therefore, reform is a necessary condition for this project. Private schools are, on the whole, good schools, owing their successes largely to a massive resource input, some three times that of the state sector. But this distortion of our educational resources is enormously unjust, as well as inefficient and supportive of a democratic deficit in British society. Some solutions are noted; while not dogmatic about which should be adopted, the authors explain why their preferred solution is a partial integration of the sectors, in particular what they term a 'Fair Access Scheme'.

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Editorial. Calling Time on ‘Fixed-Ability’ Thinking and Practice (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2019

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Learning Mathematics without Limits and All-attainment Grouping in Secondary Schools: Pete’s story (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2019

This article is about Pete's story. It is a story about introducing all-attainment teaching in a secondary school mathematics department and about espousing and enacting a pedagogy and set of practices to enable learning mathematics without limits.

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Learning without Limits: using the power of the collective to foster professional learning (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2019

In this article, members of the Learning without Limits research team describe the establishment and work of the Learning without Limits network. This network brings together practitioners, school leaders, academics and others involved in education to further develop approaches to anti-determinist pedagogy, and to consider the issues which arise.

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‘Nothing New and Shiny.’ My Experience with Learning without Limits: a teacher’s journey (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2019

This article offers one teacher's thoughts about how the experience of having to teach students who had been labelled and grouped by 'ability' unsettled her practice. Such 'ability' thinking runs counter to her beliefs as a teacher. The article sheds light on ways in which practice can be re-fashioned in the light of principles associated with Learning without Limits approaches.

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Rethinking ‘Fixed-Ability Thinking’ and Grouping Practices: questions, disruptions and barriers to change in primary and early years education (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2019

This article uses data from a research project exploring grouping practices based on 'ability' in classrooms for children aged 3 7 years in England to consider the relationship between teachers' views of ability and their ways of organising children. The widespread use of grouping with young children and the concomitant 'fixed-ability thinking' by teachers are discussed, alongside an exploration of how and why teachers object to grouping on this basis. Examples of teachers who were able to disrupt grouping practices based on 'ability' are described, allowing for a further discussion of the barriers to change for the majority of teachers. The article concludes that the relationship between teachers' beliefs about ability and their grouping practice is complex, as there can be both grouping without fixed-ability thinking and vice versa.

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Feeling Less Than Other People: attainment scores as symbols of children’s worth (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2019

This article addresses how an educational purpose of social efficiency, such as the one we have in England, affects each child's school Life-history and the process through which children thereby come to identify themselves. The author considers whether schools could engage in practices that decrease pupils' resignation to a system that controls them, and enhance children's resilience; she also considers their resistance towards being unjustly controlled. She addresses this question by exploring primary schooling's relatively recent practice of grouping children according to their attainment scores on tests of maths and writing. She explores how such grouping may contribute to a perception of children as only as valuable as their test scores. With reference to a particular pupil, Wayne, who describes his school Life-history, the author emphasises how struggling with one high-stakes subject can lead children to a sense of being 'less than other people', even when a child has obvious knowledge and skill in other curriculum areas. She then previews a Leverhulme research project which has recently begun, which narrates and investigates 'Children's Life-histories In Primary Schools' (CLIPS) across five years of school, to identify the role played by attainment labels in children's social and cognitive development.

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The Politics of Ability and Online Culture Wars (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2019

Conversations about 'fixed' or innate ability in relation to schools and education have generally considered - though not exclusively so - the psychological and sociological basis of ability, the practicalities and policy formulations. In this article, the author considers the emergent politics of ability and the culture war on social media which appears to be driving the discourse. He draws on his own research in this and presents an article which is intended to highlight the nature of the politics of ability and offer some insights into how practitioners and academics might move forward in a more productive way. Essentially, sustained debate over the nature of ability as fixed or as a flexible characteristic can prove to be irresolvable. He argues that what can potentially unite both sides of the debate is a greater sense of justice in terms of social class and political economy.

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The Zombie Theory of Genetic Intelligence (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2019

The notion that 'intelligence' or 'ability' is genetically inherited refuses to die. This article reviews the way such a notion has long been used to justify inequality in society, and considers the methodological failings and deceptions, and the interpretative blind spots, of those who advance the heritability of 'intelligence' as a basis for understanding people's learning.

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Jolly Good Show, Sir (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2019

In this poem the author explores a difficult mentoring session he had with a group of white male working-class pupils who were at risk of being permanently excluded from their secondary school. He describes and analyses the specific context which gave rise to the poem and explains why he found writing a poem a salutary experience.

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Modelling Transformative Education (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2019

This article is a call to rebalance and broaden contemporary education to include a focus on both conformity and transformation. It includes an overview of three different models of education, relating to different educational purposes. Two emphasise conformity in knowledge acquisition - 'mastering knowledge' and 'discovering knowledge' - as well as a third, 'not-knowing', that emphasises transformation in terms of what it is possible to know, to do and to be. The article explores the complementarity of these different models, and the need for further conversations to ensure a greater balance between conformity and transformation within educational institutions.

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What is Happening in the Doing: hunched over a consideration (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2019

What is the importance of matter in the art making of children? This article introduces the notion that inorganic matter is much more diverse and creative than previously thought. By taking time to putter, pause, and to perceive objects, humans may seize a material vitality with these nonhumans. Perhaps any one thing whether a pencil, a tube of glue, a piece of paper, or a young artist are neither subject nor object but Nature. Spinoza finds entanglements, the assemblage of things, as Nature enriching the human. In the theories of new materialisms, matter is a vital entanglement in the creation of knowledge. It follows that the teacher must value the unorthodox in the learning of the child. What does the art making of children look like when they intra-act with matter to conceive phenomena? This article engages in these questions and challenges the priority of a preconceived product as a goal in art making. Rather a teacher might ask ,'what is happening in the doing'?

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Knowing What to Do in School: what is it useful for educational leaders, teachers and students to think about? (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2019

This article tries to show that combining opportunities to imitate and study with self-inspired and autonomous activities can facilitate the exploitation and exploration of different kinds of knowledge and ways of learning. This approach might inform leaders' and teachers' education and development with a focus on promoting students' capability and understanding through problem-solving and the pursuit of projects for personal satisfaction and public recognition. The intention is for effective teaching and learning to contribute to healthy, inclusive, productive communities in a sustainable world.

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The Life and Times of Michael Young: from the new sociology of education to socialist realism in English schooling (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2019

This article defends Michael Young from accusations of simple revisionism, and reasserts the need for the socialist left to debate the nature and importance of school knowledge and of subject disciplines.

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Ending Selection in the Schools of Guernsey (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2019

This article gives an insider's account of the campaign, ultimately successful, to end the system of educational selection at age 11 on the island of Guernsey.

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BOOK REVIEW Rebuilding Our Schools from the Bottom Up (Fiona Carnie) (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2019

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Editorial. Better Beginnings: an early years special issue (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2018

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Reading I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. Encounters over Seven Months: one child, one book, one adult (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2018

The author describes and reflects on seven months of sharing one book with a child who is coming at reading in her own way.

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In Search of Bold Beginnings: ‘good early education’, ethics and moral responsibility (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2018

The Ofsted report entitled Bold Beginnings: the Reception curriculum in a sample of good and outstanding primary schools is part of a research programme aimed at reviewing the primary curriculum and its implementation. Although the report highlights the 'uniqueness' of the Reception year, it also undermines the principles of Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and much independent research on early education by heavily privileging synthetic phonics and number work. Serious concerns have, therefore, been voiced about the report, in relation both to Ofsted's recommended approach to 'good early education' and to aspects of itsresearch methodology. This article focuses on the absence of explicit ethical reflection in the report and proposes an alternative approach to early education that arises from the notion of 'moral responsibility' as the foundation of good education.

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Still Not Listening? Ofsted’s Influence on the Shape of the Reception Year, the Teaching of Early Years Reading in England, and Other Concerns from an Early Years Perspective (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2018

There is widespread concern about aspects of government policy relating to early years education. Current proposals for baseline assessment and changes to the early learning goals reveal a lack of insight into the nature of early learning, and little understanding and respect for effective early years pedagogy. Indeed, it is apparent that the Reception year in primary schools is now explicitly seen as preparation for Year 1, instead of being celebrated as part of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). The role of Ofsted in reinforcing this development is regrettable, reflecting as it does the politicisation of education and the loss of informed impartial professional advice both to schools and to policymakers.

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Bold Assertions: a comment on the Bold Beginnings debate (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2018

The Ofsted report Bold Beginnings was met with virulent opposition from the early years community. It tried to foreclose, rather than open up, debate about the Reception year; its wording was particularly incendiary. Almost a year on, straws in the wind suggest that the community's reaction was justified and that a battle for the soul of Reception is well under way.

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Mathematics in the Early Years: a bolder start (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2018

With the publication of Bold Beginnings, Reception teachers and educationists felt their principles and practices were under attack. The main focus of the debate that ensued targeted the formality of learning, and especially teaching writing sitting at desks. The comments about the mathematics practices of the good schools incorporating Year 1 expectations into Reception classes largely went unchallenged. This article offers a commentary on the findings from Bold Beginnings in relation to mathematics and contrasts them with the recent announcements for the draft expectations at the end of the Reception year.

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Bold Beginnings and the Rhetoric of ‘School Readiness’ (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2018

The 'school-readiness' agenda is becoming increasingly dominant in recent policy discourse, and this article explores how the Bold Beginnings report builds on this agenda. By focusing on the curricular gap between the end of Reception and Year 1, and on the importance of mathematical and literacy outcomes, it is argued that Bold Beginnings clearly establishes the Reception year as a site to 'ready' children for school. Using a rhetorical analysis approach,this article considershow the text is constructed as a persuasive discourse advocating the further formalisation of the early years.

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Reading in the Reception Classroom (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2018

Ofsted's 2017 review of the Reception year curriculum, Bold Beginnings, asserts that reading is the core purpose of the Reception year, and advocates 'systematic synthetic phonics' as the teaching method. This article challenges this precept by reference to recent research into the nature of reading, the way children learn in the Reception class of a primary school, and the actual practice of early years teachers.

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Bold Beginnings: what is at stake? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2018

This article offers a critique of Ofsted's Bold Beginnings report based on the author's own experience as an early years practitioner. It draws attention to the growing 'readiness' agenda of the Department for Education (DfE) and to its focus on a primarily transmission-based model of teaching. It reaffirms the necessity of an approach to the Reception year which keeps the meaning-making child at the centre, allowing inquiry to develop and thrive and creativity to flourish.

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Terrorism in the Nursery: considering the implications of the British Values discourse and the Prevent duty requirements in early years education (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2018

This article explores some of the implications of the British Values discourse within early years education and the consequences of the Prevent duty requirements. It highlights some of the ethical dilemmas imposed as a result of the potential securitisation of early years education, and also explores the very ethos of British Values within early years pedagogy.

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Bold Beginnings or Pressure from the Start? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2018

In November 2017, Ofsted published Bold Beginnings, a report on its findings about teaching in the Reception year. Like very many practitioners in the early years, the author of this article believes this report to be of concern, as the recommendations it proposes would be so damaging for the early education of young children. She believes its recommendations are not developmentally appropriate for four- and five-year-olds, as insufficient importance is given to the prime areas of learning and development; the suggested curriculum would be too narrow and formal for such young children, and would remove opportunities for deep learning through play. There are also concerns about its impact on the professionalism of teachers and practitioners in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).

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The Value of Inexperience: young teachers in post-2010 English education policy (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2018

This article explores how the expansion of the Academies Programme and Teach First, combined with a political programme of economic austerity, has repositioned the role and expectations of young teachers since 2010. Specifically, rapid promotion to leadership has become normalised in policy discourse, which has the effect of raising expectations placed on new teachers. It argues that the effects of this repositioning have an impact on both new and experienced teachers, and could be contributing to the current recruitment and retention 'crisis' in teaching.

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Turning the Tide on ‘Coercive Autonomy’: learning from the Antidote story (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2018

This article argues that the mental health crisis affecting children and young people can only be addressed by putting in place a radically different model of school accountability from the one we have now. It explores what might be learned from the history of Antidote - an organisation set up to foster more emotionally supportive school environments -to inform the development of such a model.

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On the Promise and Poverty of Quality Teaching (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2018

This is an edited version of a presentation Michael Fielding was invited to give in April 2006 at the Post Primary Teachers' AssociationProfessional Conference. The conference, entitled Quality Teaching - Leading the Way, took place at the Wellington Convention Centre, Wellington, New Zealand. In his presentation, Michael contrasts two approaches to consideration of the idea of 'quality' in relation to teaching: performance quality and educational quality. The former is a disciplinary device designed to control at a distance. The latter requires rigorous reflexive thinking from which emergesjudgement of values. The ways in which both approaches, and their implications, continue to resonate are examined.

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BOOK AND FILM REVIEWS (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2018

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Simplistic Beginnings? The Invisibility of Sustained Shared Thinking in Ofsted Advice Documents (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2018

In December 2017, a highly critical report entitled Bald Beginnings was prepared by the early years association TACTYC in response to Bold Beginnings, Ofsted's latest (2017) bulletin on early years practice. In a subsequent meeting with early years leaders, Ofsted proposed that Bold Beginnings should be seen as one component in a set of complementary reports. This article undertakes a review of all four reports to consider the overview of early childhood practice that they provide, specifically with reference to the concept of 'sustained shared thinking' which emerged from nearly a century of research in developmental psychology and which was considered to bear the relevant level of importance for specific identification in the Early Years Teacher Standards. The conclusion drawn from this review of the relevant 'suite' of Ofsted reports is that sustained shared thinking is not referred to by name in any of the documents, nor is any implicit indication given that the authors had any effective understanding of the concept. It is also proposed that Bold Beginnings is in fact very different in tone to the previous documents and suggests an underlying policy shift in Ofsted's orientation to early years education.

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The Continuing School Exclusion Scandal in England (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2018

The deregulated and marketised education system is failing large numbers of the most vulnerable children in society, with system 'gaming' often the motivation behind school exclusions. This article sets out the multiple ways in which students can find themselves outside the formal school system, and identifies several of the systemic pressures that drive the statistics provided.

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Remembering Plowden (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2018

In 2017 the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the much-misunderstood and maligned Plowden Report went unnoticed - a pity for those sharing progressive values, needed much more now than in the 1960s. In this article the author argues that the spirit of the report and its underlying values need restating in the current climate.

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BOOK REVIEW: Higher Education and Social Inequalities, University Admissions, Experiences and Outcomes (Richard Waller, Nicola Ingram & Michael R.M. Ward) (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2018

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Editorial. Building the Movement for a National Education Service (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2018

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The Promise of a National Education Service (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2018

The proposed creation of a National Education Service (NES) for England offers us the possibility of a decisive break from the market paradigm, where education is seen as a commodity in mainly economic terms and where individual and institutional competition are regarded as the drivers of improvement. Is the advocacy of an NES by the Labour Party a historic opportunity for English education, and what might the benefits and challenges of implementing such a proposal be?

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Why a National Education Council is Needed (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2018

This article provides a historical overview of how education policy has become increasingly centralised in recent years, and most dramatically under Conservative governments which have proclaimed most loudly about decentralisation and autonomy while enacting policies with the polar-opposite effect. It makes the case for the creation of a National Education Council to drive education policy in the future, whereby professional opinion is privileged and a range of views from politics and civil society are given expression,

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For the Many: a curriculum for social justice (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2018

In recent years educational preoccupations have largely focused on 'teaching and learning', often drawing on deficit models of teaching and encouraging myths about 'poor teachers' and 'bad teaching'. Debate about the curriculum has been discouraged - but this has not stopped it being 'reformed', often in profoundly reactionary ways. This article analyses developments in the English school curriculum and argues that Labour's proposed National Education Service offers an opportunity to consider what a genuinely socially just curriculum might look like.

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Whose System Is it Anyway? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2018

This adapted abstract from Melissa Benn's new book, Life Lessons: the case for a National Education Service (Verso), argues for a fundamental shift in the direction of schools policy in England which rejects US-style market solutions and embraces more community-based forms of accountability.

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The Realistic Possibility of a Labour Government Led by Jeremy Corbyn Means We Could Get Rid of Academies for Good (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2018

A National Education Service has to fix the multiple problems created by a fragmented and fractured system which has been completely undermined by academisation. This article argues there can be no ambivalence about bringing academy schools back into a local authority system, but that a future Labour government must also reinvigorate what democratic participation and accountability mean in a local government model.

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Embedding Democratic Engagement in School Leadership: comprehensive schooling structures in an academised system (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2018

This article describes how a gaping democratic deficit has emerged in the English schools system as both local authorities and school governing bodies have been degraded by academisation. In arguing that a comprehensive school can only be truly comprehensive if it is based on democratic principles, the authors make the case for re-establishing democracy in state education by developing democratic governance structures at school level, and nesting these in a system of Local Education Boards.

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Let’s Not Reinvent the Vocational Route: a comment on Labour’s proposals for 16-plus (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2018

A National Education Service should be genuinely cradle to grave. This article focuses on the key area, often neglected, of 16-plus education and highlights the need for substantial public investment using the lessons of past experiences to build on the principle of 'a good general education for all' at 16-19.

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A New Deal for the Teaching Profession (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2018

The crisis in teacher supply points to fundamental problems in the way teachers in England experience their work. In this contribution to debates about a National Education Service (NES) the author argues that a Labour government must be prepared to radically rethink how it engages with the teaching profession. The challenge is to shift from a compliance culture to one in which education workers become central to building the movement on which the NES will be based.

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Editorial. All Power to the Imagination! (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2018

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The ‘Patron Saint’ of Comprehensive Education: an interview with Clyde Chitty. Part Two (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2018

This is the second and concluding part of the interview which Melissa Benn and Jane Martin conducted with Clyde Chitty in the summer of 2017. The first part appeared in the previous issue of the journal, FORUM, 59(3). When Clyde stepped away from regular duties with the FORUM board, Michael Armstrong dubbed him 'the patron saint of the movement for comprehensive education'. Clyde talked with Melissa and Jane about his working life as a teacher-researcher who notably campaigned for the universal provision of comprehensive state education. His unshakeable conviction that education has the power to enhance the lives of all is illustrated by plentiful examples from his work-life history. The interview is structured like a narrative. Phrases or sentences in brackets are interpolations for sense and by way of additional context. The section in italics comes not from the interview, but from Clyde's chapter in the book edited with Melissa Benn: A Tribute to Caroline Benn: education and democracy. As a coda, we append details of all Clyde's articles for this journal from 1981, beginning characteristically with a piece entitled 'Why Comprehensive Schools?', along with details of his editorials from 1995.

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Rebuilding Our Schools from the Bottom Up (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2018

We live in a democracy and yet our schools are far from democratic. Decisions made by central government, implemented by headteachers and policed by Ofsted are rarely scrutinised or debated by those whose daily lives are significantly affected by them. Little surprise then that there is so much disenchantment on the part of teachers, disaffection of young people and disengagement by parents, many of whom feel powerless in the face of current education policy. This article explores how schools can transform their culture by strengthening voice, participation and the understanding of what it means to be part of a learning community. Giving examples of schools where teachers are encouraged to explore new ideas and discuss the challenges they face, where parents are actively involved and supported to help their children, and where young people are genuinely listened to and able to contribute to decisions about their learning and their school, a new way forward is charted, one which recognises the power of developing a shared sense of purpose and a common vision. It proposes transforming our schools from the bottom up.

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Fly With Me: how Stanley Park High School developed an alternative vision and practice, as told through the narrative of four teachers (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2018

This article introduces texts by practitioners at Stanley Park High School, links these to articles about the school in the previous issue of FORUM, and endorses the continuing commitment at Stanley Park to encouraging a thriving learning culture.

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Creating Independent Learners: placing students at the heart of the assessment process (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2018

Stanley Park High School, Carshalton, was designated a Building Schools for the Future 'One School Pathfinder' in 2006 and charged with being innovative in all aspects of schooling. At a time of increasing compliance in schools, with an unwillingness to deviate from centrally controlled orthodoxy for fear of falling foul of ever-tightening accountability measures, Stanley Park High has striven to establish a curriculum which inspires excellence for all students as well as developing an equitable assessment system which enables students to become equal partners in their own learning.

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The Case for Alternative Creative Curricula, and What We Did at Stanley Park (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2018

This article outlines reasons for creating the Excellent Futures Curriculum at Stanley Park High School, Carshalton, the strengths of the curriculum, and its subsequent development.

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Igniting a Passion in English (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2018

This article looks in detail at the constraints imposed on teachers of English by current examination syllabuses, and at how approaches developed through the Key Stage 3 (KS3) offer and the innovative Excellent Futures Curriculum at Stanley Park High School, Carshalton enable KS4 students to be more securely and fruitfully engaged as readers, writers, speakers and listeners.

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Keeping All of Your Passengers on the Plane: creating truly inclusive, human-scale secondary education for all, including those with special educational needs (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2018

Stanley Park High School, Carshalton was designated a Building Schools for the Future 'One School Pathfinder' in 2006, and charged with being innovative in all aspects of schooling. This article, which links with a number of other contributions in this issue of FORUM about interconnected practices at the school, will focus on one of the four schools-within-a-school (SWS), Horizon. This SWS is markedly different from the other three because it contains two opportunity bases - Aqua and Ignis - that in total meet the needs of 91 students with an Education and Health Care Plan forAutism Spectrum Condition (ASC), a provision that we believe to be unique within a mainstream secondary setting in England.

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The Relevance of Primary Education (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2018

This article sketches a vision of how primary education needs to be re-shaped to let schools focus more sharply on the development of children as individuals. Rapid social change requires a fundamental re-thinking of formal education and assessment. High-stakes testing must end. Greater weight must be given to the application of knowledge and skills. The parent-teacher partnership must be re-vitalised.

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Recruitment, Retention and the Workload Challenge: a critique of the government response (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2018

Various surveys have confirmed that there is a crisis of recruitment and retention of teachers in schools. This article examines the government response to this crisis, in particular to what is commonly cited as the main cause - unmanageable workloads. What it describes as the workload challenge has certainly not been ignored by the DfE, which in February 2017 produced an updated document detailing the steps it had taken in an attempt to reduce teacher workload. However, although it has taken the workload challenge seriously, it has downplayed some of the factors which even its own commissioned research has shown to be important. This article argues that, while it is certainly a step in the right direction, addressing the workload issue alone will not resolve the crisis.

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Labour’s Pedagogic Project and the Crisis of Social Democracy in the English Labour Party (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2018

This article contends that the implementation of government policies is mediated principally by the state, the economy and social class but that these have all changed so markedly since 1945 that education can no longer be seen as having the reforming role attributed to it in the post-war years. The continued assumption that it does means that, were policies based upon Labour's characteristic pedagogic project to be implemented in government, they may well lead to disillusion. This would only contribute to, rather than help resolve, the crisis of social democracy in the British Labour Party.

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Literature in Language Lessons (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2018

Teaching modern foreign languages is not all about communicative skills. It is also about testing functional abilities. While we still pay lip service to the creed of communicative language teaching, we have adopted test formats and teaching styles that follow a hidden agenda: the production of human capital. The main objective of teaching is being shifted from communicative competence to cognitive measurement. This article argues that using literature in the modern foreign language (MFL) classroom is perfectly compatible with the communicative approach and the curriculum. It highlights the fact that literature, once driven out by communicative language teaching (CLT), could now help to bring back the ‘communicative spirit’ that is in danger of being drowned by competency-based teaching and testing.

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Music Education for All (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2018

This article argues that a systematic, developmental and comprehensive music education should be at the heart of every child's formal education within the state education system. The benefits of a music education are briefly explored before a presentation of recent research data that demonstrates a decline in music education as a result of poorly designed and implemented government policies in recent years. Rather than an over-reliance on the 'outsourcing' of music education to music education hubs and other private providers, qualified teachers with appropriate musical and pedagogical skills and understanding hold the key to the provision of a quality music education for all young people. Within primary schools, teachers without a music specialism need to be reminded that music as a subject is not impossible to teach and can be done well with their 'generalist' skills; within secondary schools, music needs to relate to other curriculum subjects in a more explicit way. This is examined through a metaphor drawn from the Renaissance period.Ultimately, this article argues that music education is too important to be left to amateurs. All children deserve a music education that is designed and delivered by qualified and skilful professional educators.

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The Arts in School: what has befallen them, and why they remain vital (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2018

This article re-states the importance of the arts and humanities for education, highlights the declining provision for them in schools, and argues that a fundamental re-think of the purposes of education is required to re-establish creativity at the heart of formal learning.

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Ofsted Inspection as Existential Threat (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2018

This article exposes the fear that is at the heart of the Ofsted inspection process. It presents a challenge to Ofsted's Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman. She must tread carefully if she is to reform Ofsted and our broken accountability system.

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BOOK REVIEWS (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2018

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Editorial. Against Segregated Education (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2017

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The ‘Patron Saint’ of Comprehensive Education: an interview with Clyde Chitty. Part One (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2017

FORUM invited Melissa Benn and Jane Martin to interview Clyde Chitty, a brilliant and effective classroom and university teacher, one of the most well-known advocates of comprehensive education, a long-standing member of FORUM's editorial board, and for two decades co-editor of the publication. It was Michael Armstrong who called him 'the patron saint of the movement for comprehensive education', in a card written to Clyde when he stepped away from regular duties with the FORUM board. In three 45-minute interviews, conducted at Clyde's home, Clyde shared reflections with us on a working life as a teacher-researcher who notably campaigned for the universal provision of comprehensive state education. In this article, which comprises Part One of the interviews (Part Two will appear in the spring 2018 number of FORUM), Clyde's unshakeable conviction that education has the power to enhance the lives of all is illustrated by plentiful examples from his work-life history.

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The State Education Is In: recognising the challenge of achieving a fair educational system in post-Brexit, austerity England (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2017

This article examines the problem of the wider economic and political context for any project aimed at achieving a fairer educational system. The consequences of the current status quo can be seen in diminishing funding and rising inequalities. The author argues that the answer lies not in tinkering with an unjust education system but rather in big, bold initiatives that are transformative rather than incremental.

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My Secondary Modern: stories from the invisible generation (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2017

One of the least recorded and analysed aspects of English and Welsh education is the personal experience of millions of people attending secondary modern schools following the 1944 Education Act. Since 2012, Emma-Louise Williams and Michael Rosen have hosted a moderated blog for self-selecting personal testimony from anyone involved. So far, some 90 people have contributed posts or comments and the blog has received approximately 100,000 views. This article reviews the material while bearing in mind its particularity.

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Democratising Comprehensiveness: a prospectus (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2017

This article begins with a proposal to recreate the neighbourhood school as a comprehensive campus that stretches across a segment of a city or county in order to ensure children and young people experience class and cultural diversity in their learning.

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On the Insistent Possibility of Comprehensive Secondary Education (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2017

This article reflects on the two subsequent articles - the first by Mike Davies and the second by David Taylor - that provide exhilarating challenges to the diminishing and demeaning status quo of current education policy and practice in England.

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A World We Never Had: the forgotten quest for a comprehensive school curriculum (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2017

Recently the spectre of increased selection has raised much attention, frequently associated with 'fairness' linked to a meritocracy - reminding us of the tension between the principles of equality of opportunity and access as the key driver of the comprehensive school as against the principles of equal value and respect. Whether the public's interest and imagination can be galvanised to support and celebrate the comprehensive ideal of equal value will have a profound and defining effect on the future of comprehensive schools. This article is an exploration of some of the issues, especially relating to the curriculum.

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Taking off into a Strong Headwind: creating truly comprehensive, human-scale secondary education against the prevailing gales of performativity (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2017

Stanley Park High was designated a Building Schools for the Future 'One School Pathfinder' in 2006, and charged with being innovative in all aspects of schooling. This article, which prefaces a number of forthcoming contributions about interconnected practices at the school, focuses on the journey of reform, one that has rightly challenged the dominant and compliant view, and that embraces the progressive tradition of comprehensive education in order to unleash the innate creativity of our students and the professional capital of our teachers.

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Labour and the Grammar Schools: a history (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2017

This article outlines the Labour Party's attitude to selective secondary education from the creation of the party in 1900 to the present day. It notes early calls for comprehensive schools; seeks to explain why the post-war Attlee government was so committed to the tripartite system of secondary schools; recounts the failure of the Wilson governments in the 1960s and '70s to legislate for a fully comprehensive system; describes the assault on the comprehensive ideal led by Tony Blair and Andrew Adonis; and concludes with an account of Labour's response to Theresa May's proposal to bring back the eleven plus.

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The Politics of Blocking Equality Reforms in Education: a study of organised interests in England, 1965 2010 (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2017

This article investigates how vested interests, particularly the teacher unions, responded to the British Labour government's school reforms designed to increase educational equality. Two significant reforms introduced to this end were Circular 10/65 on comprehensive education and the Learning and Skills Act of 2000 on the City Academies. The circular was intended to put an end to the selective, tripartite school system, and the City Academies were new schools aimed specifically at improving educational standards for low-performing children in socially deprived areas. The teacher unions, particularly the National Union of Teachers (NUT), fought against these reforms. Their objection to the reforms is all the more perplexing considering the fact that the NUT has expressed staunch support for equalising the school system and providing special measures for poor children. The investigation, which utilises political science theories on organised interests in education, education policy research, and primary source materials amassed from the NUT archives, analyses why the teacher unions' objection contradicts their efforts to block educational inequality.

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Reframing ‘Attainment’: creating and developing spaces for learning within schools (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2017

This article, based on a keynote presentation given at a conference in Tasmania, examines the notion of 'attainment' and argues that a narrow focus on standardised test scores is highly problematic for those concerned with social justice. Using examples from the Freedom to Learn Project, this article presents two case studies of schools that 'think outside the box'. These schools use ideas which act as a disruption to mainstream thinking in that they challenge many assumed norms in education: that children need to be taught; that teachers are experts; that classrooms need to instil discipline; that the essence of learning can be assessed; that 'standards' can be equated with test scores. The article argues that part of the task of those wanting to reform education is to create spaces within education; spaces where students, staff and school leaders have freedom to think differently, to learn differently and to behave differently. It ends with a glimmer of optimism for UK schools as the Chief Inspector of Schools has recently criticised those who 'mistake badges and stickers for learning itself'. This could be a green light to re-frame the 'attainment' discourse so that it works in the interests of all children and young people.

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‘Mantle of the Expert’ as a Route to Irresistible Learning and Transformative Teaching (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2017

This article is an attempt to re-imagine the professional positioning of schooling, learning and teaching by offering an account of approaches adopted by 'Mantle of the Expert' practitioners.

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Checklists for Learning: when, why and how to pay attention (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2017

This article gives an overview of the author's book Inside Teaching: how to make a difference for every learner and teacher (Routledge, 2017), and focuses on how checklist processes can be used to help clarify and guide purposes and ways of working. The intention is to be systematic and explicit without being bureaucratic and moribund. Effective decision-making in learning and teaching is seen to be associated with choosing when and how to pay attention to what matters most. Underpinning the discussion is a twin assumption: teachers also learn and learners teach. What applies to learners usually applies to teachers too, and vice versa.

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Segregated Education and the FORUM Archive: six decades of writing against the grammar/secondary modern divide and in favour of comprehensive education (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2017

Scores of articles in FORUM have engaged for almost sixty years with a range of substantive issues relating to the grammar/secondary modern school divide, and to the movement for comprehensive reform. These articles constitute an invaluable resource for campaigners and historians. Highlighted and introduced here are half a dozen such articles drawn from a group of fifty listed elsewhere in this issue. All fifty are freely available in the online archive via the FORUM website (www.wwwords.co.uk/FORUM).

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‘The Human Side Takes Priority’: remembering Kathleen Mitchell (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2017

This article is an extended version of the obituary for Kathleen Mitchell, innovative headteacher, which appeared in the Guardian.

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Mabel Barker, Unknown Heroine (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2017

An account of the life of Mabel Barker, teacher, rock climber and pioneer outdoor educator.

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It’s All About the Teacher: why that ‘truth’ might not be all that it seems (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2017

This article explores the contextual detail behind a widely used quotation about the differing impact of teachers. It finds that it originates from a single paper in the USA, and that it is unclear how the quotation arises from a very specific data set from a very specific context.

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Literacy Learning in the Twenty-first Century: how much have we learnt? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2017

Languages differ in the way that speech and meaning are represented in written form: in English, the correspondences are variable. Thus, in learning to read in English there is need for an approach that combines alphabetic decoding and a mastery of sight vocabulary. Teaching children to read should develop from an analysis of the skills and knowledge young children bring to the learning situation. When they start school, some children can already read with understanding, yet frequently their needs are overlooked. England is only one of the countries where evidence from research is being ignored, simplistic tests are driving the curriculum, available resources are being spent on commercial products linked to the tests and schools are being ranked by the percentage of children who pass such tests.

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Editorial. Time to Change the Conversation (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

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Editorial. Assessment: crisis and resistance (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

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Assessment: the alternative (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

This position statement presents a summative argument against current structures and practices of assessment in England's primary schools, and some key principles for its replacement. The text was agreed by More Than A Score, a broad coalition of professional, curriculum, research and campaigning organisations opposed to the current assessment system and its links to accountability, and published early in 2017.

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Assessment in English 3 to 11 (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

This article critiques the current arrangements for the assessment and testing of English in early-years settings and primary schools in England. It is broadly supportive of the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile. It is highly critical of the Year 1 phonics check, and of the tests of reading and of grammar, punctuation and spelling at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2. It proposes a moderate revision of the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile, the abolition of the Year 1 phonics check, and a complete overhaul of testing arrangements at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2. The article's alternative proposals for these tests would reunite the currently dismembered activities of reading and writing. The spoken language would be assessed as of equivalent importance to reading and writing. The tests and their related assessment criteria would be published in banks of online resources from which teachers could choose. All assessment and testing would be done internally, by teachers, with external moderation.

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Some Modest Proposals (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

This text represents two extracts from a submission to the House of Commons Select Committee's investigation into primary school tests. The first part is a critique of the 2016 tests, particularly the Reading and Grammar tests for 11-year-olds and also the highly regulated 'teacher assessment' of Writing. The second part is a set of proposals for rethinking the whole suite of primary school tests. This includes consideration of how teacher assessment might draw, at the teacher's discretion, on a national bank of test items; and suggestions for sustaining curricular breadth and engagement.

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National Tests in Denmark: CAT as a pedagogic tool (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

This article describes standardised testing in Denmark and the protections guaranteed to avoid 'high stakes'. It explains the use of computer-based 'adaptive tests' which adjust to an appropriate level for each student. It is an abbreviated version of an article from 2011 in the Journal for Applied Testing Technology. The author is currently providing consultancy advice for assessment reform in Wales.

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Accountability (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

This contribution republishes extracts from two important articles published around 2000 concerning the punitive accountability system suffered by English primary and secondary schools. The first concerns the inspection agency Ofsted, and the second managerialism. Though they do not directly address assessment, they are highly relevant to this collection for three reasons. Firstly, assessment data feeds into both: in other words, they constitute part of the 'high stakes' of the present system. Secondly, the descriptions they provide of the educational and social damage caused by inspection and data-driven management is highly pertinent to the test system. Finally, these aspects of governance along with high-stakes assessment are explicitly located within a broader ideology and policy framework of neoliberalism which distorts educational aims.

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Homo Sapiens 1.0: human development and policy construction (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

Nearly a century of psychological research and recent advances in neuropsychology suggest that there is a 'learning to learn' stage in early childhood, during which children need to create the foundations of human cognition, which relies upon the ability to logically categorise incoming information. Mid-twentieth-century psychologists would refer to this process as 'schema building', while twenty-first-century cognitive scientists would refer to it as the development of 'embedded mental representation'. Whichever term we use, the implication for the early years teacher is the same: that children in the nursery stage of education, which is internationally recognised as the years between the third and seventh birthday, most effectively learn through self-chosen, play-based activities undertaken in the company of peers and facilitated by adults who engage in the process of 'sustained shared thinking' â€' that is, sensitively supporting the child to sequentially increase his/her understanding through 'real life' experience during this process. This article explains why the needs of young children have been increasingly poorly addressed in this respect within recent education policy in the United Kingdom, with reference to potential issues arising.

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Loris Malaguzzi, Reggio Emilia and Democratic Alternatives to Early Childhood Education Assessment (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

This article responds to the dangers arising from baseline assessment in reception classes. It contrasts predictive testing which claims to ascertain each child's ability and potential with the processes of observation, documentation and discussion developed in Reggio Emilia. It explores the two very different understandings of children which they reflect.

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Linking Past and Present: John Dewey and assessment for learning (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

This collection of extracts is drawn from an article originally published in the Journal of Teaching and Learning (2012). It provides an important reminder to understand Assessment for Learning in depth, by relating some of its key features to aspects of John Dewey's educational and political philosophy of democratic participation.

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What Could Replace the Phonics Screening Check during the Early Years of Reading Development? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

This article argues that the phonics screening check, introduced in England in 2012, is not fit for purpose. It is a test of children’s ability to decode words rather than an assessment of their reading skills. Whilst this assessment may, to some extent, support the needs of children who rely on phonemic decoding as a route to word recognition, it does not support the needs of more advanced readers who have automatic word recognition. In addition, for children who struggle with phonemic decoding, the phonics screening check does not assess the skills which contribute to the development of both phonological and phonemic awareness. These skills include compound word, syllable and onset and rime blending and segmenting as well as phoneme addition, phoneme deletion and phoneme substitution. This article argues that existing models of reading development are inadequate for assessment purposes and that a battery of assessments is needed to support children at different stages of their reading development.

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Authenticity, Validity and Reliability in A-level English Literature (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

This article discusses the use of assessment by teachers to replace external marking. It shows how professional participation and moderation can provide reliability in summative assessment, even in public examinations for older students. It draws on historical experiences of assessment for A-level English literature.

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Assessing Primary Literacy through Grammar Tests (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

Originally an editorial for English in Education, this short article summarises key issues in the imposition of a separate test for grammar, punctuation and spelling. It illustrates the poor foundations, lack of clarity and distortion of curriculum which invalidate the test.

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Grammar and Great Literature (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

This is an extract from 'Politics, Reading and Knowledge about Language', the author's address to the 1991 annual conference of the National Association for the Teaching of English. It describes the moment in 1988 when Kenneth Baker, then Secretary of State for Education and Science, received the report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Teaching of English Language [the Kingman Report], which he had established. It failed to please him, because it did not recommend a return to old-fashioned grammar teaching based on a Latinate model of English, as he had hoped it would.

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Assessment of Primary Writing in 2016 (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

This article demonstrates the distortions arising from attempts to impose a rigid set of criteria on teacher assessment. The use of surface features of syntax and punctuation to determine grades created a situation where children's writing became artificial and lacking in interest.

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Governing by Numbers: local effects on students’ experiences of writing (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

This article is an extract from a longer research article originally published in the journal English in Education. It describes a parallel situation in Australia where high-stakes assessment led to stereotyped writing, endless test practice and widespread student disengagement.

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Thinking Out of the Exams Box: assessment through talk? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

This article examines the abandonment of talk-based assessment in favour of written exams, even when writing results in less valid assessment. It points to substantial experience of assessment through talk in English and media studies and points to its potential use in other subjects. It is followed by an example, originally designed by the National Oracy Project for a Key Stage 3 (KS3) media unit, which shows the blend of process and product, and formative and summative assessment.

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Maths is More than Getting the Right Answer: redressing the balance through observation (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

This article explains how high-stakes standardised tests are distorting primary school mathematics and failing to promote pupils' cognitive development. It argues for observation and journaling for both formative and summative assessment in order to recover an emphasis on reflective mathematical understanding and problem-solving.

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Assessing the Humanities in the Primary School Using a Portfolio-based Approach (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

This article suggests that a portfolio-based approach to assessing the humanities in the primary school is appropriate and outlines what this might involve. It argues for a broad interpretation of 'the humanities' and for adopting principles associated with formative assessment, where assessment is not equated with testing and a wide range of children's achievements are celebrated.

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Authentic Assessment through Rich Tasks (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

This short article explains the key principles of 'rich tasks', a version of authentic assessment developed in Queensland, Australia, as part of a major curriculum development called the 'New Basics'. In various documents, the project leaders recognised the danger that inappropriate assessment would undermine the proposed curriculum and pedagogy. Under the rubric 'rich tasks' they developed a range of interdisciplinary challenges for the end of each stage of education which could serve as summative assessment. The article is an amalgamation of explanations, and a selection of examples, derived from various documents from the New Basics project.

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Creative Learning (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

This article consists of short quotations from the author's chapter 'Creative Learning' written for the Routledge International Handbook of Creative Learning. It argues that, when assessing creativity, we should look for fitness to purpose as well as inventiveness, and that creativity can be assessed and recognised in a wide range of activities and curriculum areas. This is followed by extracts from the author's generic rubric for assessing creativity (2012) in order to illustrate the kind of guidelines which teachers might find helpful.

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The Assessment System is Unsustainable: how can we make it better? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

This article evaluates the current state of play in terms of policy development in response to the testing crisis.

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The Grass Roots Speak (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

This article reflects, and encourages, the growth of grass-roots revolt to bring about change in an assessment system which systematically undermines real education.

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What’s Wrong with the EBacc? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

As schools gear up for the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), what is the point and purpose of this new performance measure and the curriculum it encompasses? In this article the author takes a critical look at the EBacc, its assumptions about the aims of education, the curriculum model on which it is based and the implications for how schools are to be judged. Despite its many flaws, by providing an entitlement for all children to a liberal education, he suggests that it might be a step in the right direction, and asks whether a progressive case can be made for it. He addresses this question via a discussion of Michael Young's notion of 'powerful knowledge' and draws appropriate conclusions.

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Revisiting and Recovering an Educational Approach to School Inspection (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

The appointment of a new chief inspector from January 2017 offers the opportunity to re-set the relationship between Ofsted and the teaching profession. Both inspectors and teachers need to readjust their mindsets, if inspection is to be seen as developmental and principled rather than judgemental and arbitrary. Without claiming that it was exemplary or that it was not without stress for the inspected or the inspectors, this article argues that the approach used by Her Majesty's Inspectorate (HMI) prior to 1992 should be revisited and lessons learnt for the further development of school inspection.

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Thinking Out of the Exams Box: assessment through talk? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

In the increasingly fragmented education service in England, with ever-tightening systems of accountability from central government, one might assume that leaders have less scope for pursuing their own agendas. However, with the diminished role of local authorities and the rise of academies and faith and free schools, it can be argued that headteachers have more freedom than ever to act as they see fit, albeit while needing to be cognisant of league tables. Many leaders seem to be suffering from a case of Stockholm syndrome (Stockholm syndrome occurs when a victim of kidnapping forms an emotional attachment with the kidnappers and ends up joining them), in that the reductionist agenda permeates the way they and their schools operate and they are passive and compliant in the face of this. This situation is inextricably bound up in the neo-liberal paradigm, which values individualism above collectivism and 'benevolent' marketisation above notions of well-being and happiness. Should leaders actively challenge these notions in favour of a philosophy more in tune with environmental sustainability?

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The Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Conservative Educational Policy (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

Contemporary Conservative education policy may seem to be hastily formulated and executed, but, it is arguably founded on deeply held ideological beliefs. By briefly examining the history of the British Conservative party and its complex formation and disparate ideological traditions, including the broader conservative diaspora, four key Conservative educational beliefs - namely: support for traditional practices; anti-intellectualism; economic liberalism and the power of the market; and support for inequalities of outcome - beliefs are discussed. These are then examined against contemporary policy initiatives such as practice-based teacher training, the marketisation of schools and curriculum reform.

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The Human Cost of Producing Human Capital (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

In Austria the process of business-oriented educational reforms started 15 years ago but it is only now, after the implementation of the new school-leaving exams in the 2014-15 school year, that everybody has become aware of the profound changes made in the educational system. Despite the long-lasting debates and arguments, and the visible changes, the origins and objectives of the reforms are still ignored, and the reform movement is seen as a modern necessity rather than a well-planned strategy designed to increase profits. In this article, Richard Zaiser, a languages teacher who works not far from Vienna, explores the situation in his country.

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BOOK REVIEWS (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2017

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Editorial. For Michael Armstrong, and a tribute by Clyde Chitty (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2017

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The Guardian Obituary (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2017

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Dear Michael … (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2017

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Learning from Michael (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2017

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Michael Armstrong’s Pedagogy of the Imagination (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2017

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Invisible Cities of Strength (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2017

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More Radical, More Gentle, More Delighted (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2017

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Appointment to Harwell: a close run thing (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2017

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An Inspirational Head Teacher and Friend (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2017

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Working with Michael at Harwell School (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2017

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Following Michael (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2017

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Michael Armstrong: a continuing conversation (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2017

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A Great Debt (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2017

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A Tolstoyan at Countesthorpe (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2017

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The Canary, the Curriculum and the Pupil’s Choice (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2017

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For Michael (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2017

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Re-reading Closely Observed Children (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2017

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On re-reading Closely Observed Children (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2017

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What Michael Knew: reflections on a conversation, (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2017

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Remembering Michael: inspired conversations (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2017

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An Article; a Speech; an Address: three texts (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2017

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Introduction. Freedom to Learn (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2016

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Thinking the Yet to be Thought: envisioning autonomous and alternative pedagogies for socially just education (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2016

This article introduces this Special Issue of FORUM with a discussion of freedom and autonomy and considers the ways in which alternative approaches to pedagogy might provide opportunities to address inequalities in the context of education and in society beyond education. The article draws on work carried out in a project funded by an ESRC seminar series grant entitled 'Thinking the 'Yet to be Thought': an international cross-sector seminar series exploring socially just education and inequalities in education'. Underpinning the article is a belief in the intrinsic power of pedagogy to interrupt dominant paradigms and the article acknowledges the importance of surfacing the role of pedagogic discourse in intensifying existing inequalities. Despite the rising tide of neo-liberalism in education across the world, this article and the special issue that follows provide examples of positive educational practice and spaces of resistance where schools, colleges and other educational institutions are doing things differently.

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Social Justice and Resisting Neoliberal Education Reform in the USA (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2016

Efforts to reform public education along free-market, corporate-styled models have swept across many nations. In the USA these reforms have included an intense focus on the use of high-stakes, standardized tests to quantify students, teachers, and schools for market comparisons, the deprofessionalization of teaching, and the establishment of deregulated for-profit and non-profit charter schools (equivalent to the United Kingdom's 'academies'). These trends aim to challenge teachers' unions, gain access to public school monies, and restructure schools in a competitive market and at the same time erode autonomy in education. However, these corporate education reforms in the USA have met resistance from multiple contexts and in a variety of forms. After briefly providing an overview of these corporate reforms and their impacts in the USA, this article takes up some of the ways that educators, parents, and communities in the USA have organized against the encroachment of neoliberal, corporate reform in public education policy and practice.

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How Possible Is Socially Just Education under Neo-liberal Capitalism? Struggling against the Tide? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2016

In 2012 the author wrote about what a socially just system would look like, and used the example of Finland Since then the already emergent aspects of neo-liberalism within Finnish education have grown, as privileged white parents increasingly demand privileged spaces within comprehensive schools for their children. There are radical spaces within education, but they, too, are usually the preserve of the privileged within society, and so cannot be equated with socially just spaces. What socially just education requires is that people from all sections of society commit, and hold fast, to a notion of 'the common educational good' that transcends individual or family self-interest. This is at a time when it is becoming increasingly difficult to persuade those with the greatest power of choice in English society to see themselves as sharing the same common interests and purposes as those who are less privileged. Against this difficult context, this article argues that it is more important than ever to fight for socially just education.

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Opening up Pedagogies: making a space for children (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2016

This article argues that children and young people in places such as England or the USA are subjected to an educational regime which constrains their development and eclipses their emergent identities. Paradoxically, the accountability systems which claim to make children's learning visible to management create a distortion of vision by emphasising only the child's 'data shadow'. The article argues for pedagogies which provide space for each learner's authentic encounter with our cultural inheritance as human beings. It concludes by presenting the idea of 'open architectures', a set of pedagogical methods which holds children together as a learning community while providing spaces for initiative.

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A Socially Inclusive A-star is Only Possible through the Understanding of Black Holes (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2016

This article is written by young people who attend an open-access youth project in the city centre of Hull. Although they describe themselves as ‘educational failures’ (the ‘black holes’), they argue that they have a significant contribution to make to discussions about how to develop socially just education in schools. In the article, they share their personal stories about how they became disconnected from formal education and they identify critiques of the current system of schooling which, in their view, prioritises the ‘A-star’ students. They also explain how their educational experiences have been turned around through their involvement with The Warren in Hull, an organisation which adopts an informal, person-centred pedagogy.

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Educational Re-engagement as Social Inclusion: the role of flexible learning options in alternative provision in Australia (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2016

In Australia, a significant minority of young people do not complete upper secondary education. Whether procedural or enacted through the agency of students, the failure of the education system to accommodate young people through to completion can be regarded as a form of institutionalised social exclusion and injustice. In response, a growing number of flexible learning options (FLOs) are providing marginalised young people with alternative avenues for meaningful educational re-engagement. The authors of this article examine two key characteristics of FLOs: an unconditional acceptance of young people, and the integrated well-being support upon which inclusion is premised. Their discussion draws on in-depth interviews conducted with students and practitioners at a diverse range of sites. They find that FLOs play a key role in the process of re-inclusion, but this contribution to reducing social and educational inequality is predicated on a level of well-being support not ordinarily available in mainstream schooling.

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Seeking Educational Excellence Everywhere: an exploration into the impact of academisation on alternative education provision in England (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2016

This article presents a policy analysis of the UK Government's Academies programme and explores the impact that this might have on young people who have become disengaged from the mainstream education system and are thus educated in 'alternative provision' (AP) settings. It argues that the academisation proposals curtail some of the 'freedom to learn' which is currently experienced by young people in innovative alternative provision environments. These proposals potentially limit access to genuinely individualised, needs-led alternative educational provision in England. The article concludes by arguing that the Government is pursuing a top down reorganisation of AP that has no basis in evidence and that as a result, has silenced and further marginalised young people who are already disengaged from the mainstream education system.

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Developing Democratic Engagement in School: can becoming co-operative help? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2016

One hundred years have passed since John Dewey's seminal Democracy and Education (1916), yet academics and practitioners continue to search for ways in which democratic relationships in education can be enacted. This article uses a case study of an English Co-operative school to explore how far becoming co-operative can support a shift in the type of engaged relationships that schools have with stakeholders (students, parents, community) towards Dewey's participatory democracy in education. Can Co-operative schools offer the potential to envision an alternative to current English education policy discourse by engaging students and families as members of a collective democracy rather than as individual consumers? The author shows where forms and understandings of engagement offer potential for democratic relationships through processes of democratic governance and collective responsibility. The article also explores the tensions that emerge between Co-operative school practices and external policy constraints, and the challenges of becoming co-operative.

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Productive Pedagogies: narrowing the gap between schools and communities? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2016

There is little sign that current attempts to close the 'attainment gap' are working. This article argues for a different approach to addressing the 'gap', based on a community asset approach. The authors describe ongoing work on community curriculum making in North-East England, in which schools undertake projects using community resources. The approach argues that young people should 'connect' with the world beyond the school fence: go places, meet people and do and make things. Many of the projects, despite successes, have been more problematic than expected, reflected in many logistical, communication and cultural challenges as well as the fact that teachers in the United Kingdom, and particularly in England, are no longer significant agents of curriculum development. These projects are analysed in terms of 'boundary crossing' in which all parties, including students, have to adapt and engage in 'horizontal learning' as they move between communities. The article discusses the critical importance of brokerage both within the school and the community partner, which permits translation and transformation of respective practices.

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Transforming Pedagogy in Primary Schools: a case study from Australia (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2016

This article stems from a doctoral study about alternative education around the world and the author's personal journey to identify characteristics of the 'ideal school'. The focus here is a case study of one small primary school in Australia, through which it shows that there can be a larger amount of freedom and self-actualisation available to students in the classroom even when a school is governed by teaching a compulsory state curriculum. By sharing the story of this school, the article aims to enable educators to reflect on how they structure classrooms and to offer ideas of educating differently.

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Stepping off the Well-trodden Path: is a wilder pedagogy possible? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2016

This article sets out to explore alternative approaches to education, wilderapproaches that seek to embrace the innate self-will of young people as a positive starting point for enlarging personal freedoms in education. These alternatives are presented as a rebuttal against educational practices that portray young people's native autonomy as an undesirable trait requiring discipline and subjugation. The article considers the opportunity for learning to be led by the senses, a provocation for deeper environmental relationships that underline the value of opportunities to develop kinship and equality with the more-than-human world. The appearance and development of wilder teaching practices in recent educational research literature underlines the increasing significance of rethinking pedagogy for a twenty-first-century world and this article seeks to draw attention to this growing philosophy of wild pedagogy. Paulo Freire's concept of education as a process of domestication is presented alongside the idea of wild pedagogy, with an introduction to the methodology of this wilder teaching practice and a plea for embracing the self-will of those involved both as learners and teachers. The article concludes with an invitation to turn aside from worn-out educational paths and go wild.

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Choosing Silence for Equality in and through Schooling (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2016

This article considers silences and equality as combined from a theoretical perspective. Equality in and through chosen, deliberate and regular silence experience is seen as an equaliser: if no one is speaking no one can dominate. The article uses a bifurcated concept of silence: weak, negative forms and strong, positive forms. Only the strong forms are seen here as conducive to equality. Their opposite - a silencing - is seen as the creator of inequality. The argument suggests in order to tackle inequality in neo-liberal education a radical, cost-free, non-partisan solution of silence experience is available.

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Education for Sustainable Development: a movement towards pedagogies of civic compassion (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2016

This article explores the moral imperative for a renewed vision of schooling in the twenty-first century, from the standpoint of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). ESD advocates for teaching and learning spaces underpinned by civic compassion in the sense of 'an active concern for well-being'. This paradigm of education seeks to expand the horizons of our compassion for others, calling for an education system that takes into account the need for biosphere, spatial and temporal dimensions of care for the common good. This vision of education is firstly outlined and then practically explored through an example of ESD innovation in practice; a participatory education programme in sustainability leadership with students from primary, secondary, and post-16 educational settings. ESD is put forward as offering a vital and broad opportunity for the advancement of social justice in education, supporting the creation of kinder learning spaces that position educators as facilitators of civically engaged and compassionate learning.

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Northern College and the Philosophers of Praxis (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2016

Since 1978 The Northern College, Barnsley has provided an education focused on the transformation and empowerment of individuals and communities. The demands of an instrumentalist system bite deep and even the most authentic mission might struggle to hold firm against a neo-liberal onslaught which privileges the qualification of economically productive 'units' over the education of questioning, thinking humans. This case study of The Northern College's 'TeachNorthern' teacher education programme, which layers a digitally blended, social purpose curriculum over conventional initial teacher training qualifications, suggests that a pedagogy focused on developing self-agency has the potential for social change; but that the act of curriculum subversion has limits.

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Freeing Up Teachers to Learn: a case study of teacher autonomy as a tool for reducing educational inequalities in a Montessori school (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2016

A major factor influencing the potential for schools to address inequalities is the freedom that teachers have to reflect and to act to address those inequalities. This article describes how an education system that emphasises the informal and qualitative can leave greater room for teachers to develop themselves and to focus on the direct task of improving learner outcomes. Crucially, such a system can also afford teachers the time to reflect on their practice and upon their students as individuals and thereby direct attention to those who are vulnerable or otherwise in greatest need. This article presents Oxford Montessori Schools as a case study of how teachers who are empowered through autonomy can better provide for the most vulnerable children and thereby reduce social inequalities. The school has created time for teachers through a conscious effort to minimise administrative burdens. This is coupled with the trust afforded to teachers to teach according to their own professional judgement, giving teachers not only the freedom to teach but also to learn, to develop as professionals and to establish a system that works for them.

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Editorial. The Time Is Now: reconstructing high quality, democratic, public education (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2016

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Education Excellence Everywhere: FORUM’s response to the White Paper (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2016

This article represents the response of the FORUM Editorial Board to the Government's White Paper, Educational Excellence Everywhere. The response is as drafted, and has not been amended to take account of policy changes already announced, and included in the Queen's Speech. As the editorial makes clear in this issue of FORUM, these concessions are significant â€' but they are intended to give the appearance of change, rather than representing any meaningful revision. The arguments outlined in the Editorial Board's response remain fundamentally the same, and so they are included here in their original form.

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What’s the Point? Select Committee Ponders the Meaning of Education (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2016

In November 2015 the House of Commons Education Committee launched an enquiry into the purpose and quality of education in England. Among the written submissions was one from this author on behalf of the Cambridge Primary Review Trust. At the request of FORUM an edited version appears in the journal. The submission's centrepiece was the statement of educational aims from the final report of the Cambridge Primary Review, a statement on which the author and Michael Armstrong worked together and which Michael frequently quoted.

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The Values of Scottish Comprehensive Schooling (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2016

It is just over 50 years since the government circulars in Scotland, England and Wales which signalled an intention to abolish selection and reform secondary schooling along comprehensive lines. Each country's policy trajectories since then have been quite different. In this article the authors reflect on more than 50 years of comprehensive education in Scotland and assess its achievements and challenges.

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Capturing the Castle: an exploration of changes in the democratic accountability of schools (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2016

The history of the forced conversion to sponsored academy status of Castle Primary School in south Somerset is a tale of broken promises, lies and a blatant breach of statutory procedures. Yet the Department for Education, the local Member of Parliament (and schools minister) and the local authority stood by - sometimes participated - while a small academy trust rode roughshod over the wishes of governors, staff and parents. This article is an extract from a yet to be published study of the whole process, reflecting on the way that the law, and good practice, in the accountability of schools has shifted over recent years. It highlights many of the dangers that will be amplified by the proposals set out in the White Paper, Educational Excellence Everywhere.

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There is Another Way: building a new vision for schools from the bottom up (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2016

The last twenty years have seen continual change in the education system, much of which has been poorly planned, ideologically driven, lacking in coherence and without an evidence base. The key aspects of accountability, school governance and structure, curriculum and assessment and teacher training and development are critiqued (reviewed) from the perspective of the leaders of a school in East London, and an alternative strategy is articulated addressing these issues but based on a much greater degree of trust, and rooted in research and evidence.

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A Tale of Two Interpretations: Ofsted’s expectations re-examined (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2016

Since September 2015 the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) has introduced major changes to its inspection procedures and expectations. These are embodied in its handbook for school inspection. Ofsted claims more than it can deliver; in particular it makes impossible demands on its inspectors - in terms of applying both evaluation criteria and grade descriptors. It also raises unrealistic expectations of and demands on schools.

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Skilled and Ready: what combined authorities want from schools (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2016

The purpose of combined authorities, driven by government, is economic growth and public sector reform. Economic growth requires improved productivity. The main obstacle, it is claimed, is a 'skills deficit', which schools need to address. In this article the evidence for this claim is examined. The real problem, it is argued, is a structurally low-skill, low-investment economy. What employers want from 'non-academic' school leavers is basic skills, 'soft skills' and positive attitudes to work. The contradiction with the Government's EBacc-dominated curriculum creates a space for 'employability' programmes in schools which may be promoted by combined authorities.

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As the EBacc Education Beds Down, Pressures Grow for Vocational Alternatives (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2016

Though upper secondary education is increasingly dominated by the EBacc, there are growing calls for vocational alternatives and for schools to be more than 'exam factories'. This short contribution examines whether vocational education provides an alternative way forward.

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Not So Simple: the problem with ‘evidence-based practice’ and the EEF toolkit (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2016

There are increasing calls for policy and practice to be 'evidence informed'. At surface value, there may appear much to commend such an approach. However, it is important to understand that 'evidence' and 'knowledge' are being mobilised in very particular ways. The danger is that rather than promote a rich and lively debate about what counts as evidence, and how it can help educators, the reality is the development of a narrow 'what works' agenda which in turn imposes a 'one best way' approach to pedagogical practice.

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Factory-farmed Teachers Will Fail Our Children (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2016

The White Paper Educational Excellence Everywhere signals a further attack on the role of universities in educating future teachers. The author challenges the type of preparation that new teachers experience, and highlights the impact it will have for both school students and the future of the teaching profession.

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Reasons to Be Cheerful? Why Teachers’ Beliefs Could Yet Bring about Change in Schools (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2016

This article revisits Douglas Barnes's book-length exploration of the implications for teachers of a constructivist epistemology, notably in relation to the importance of small-group talk in classrooms. Empirically based consideration of small-group exploratory pupilâ€'pupil talk enabled Barnes to reveal the learning strategies such a context elicits, and to argue for its educational significance. Barnes also considers how a curriculum can be seen as a form of communication. He identifies the importance of pupil engagement if learning is to be effective, and explores some of the patterns of communication which enhance such engagement. Barnes's attention to pupils' production of knowledge through exploratory talk retains its power to correct the view that teaching is essentially about the delivery of predetermined lesson-content.

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The Teachers’ Action, 1984-1986: learning lessons from history (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2016

Thirty years ago teachers in the NUT and NASUWT were involved in a protracted industrial dispute. The outcome of the dispute had huge implications for education policy in the years that followed (most obviously the introduction of the 1987 Education Bill), and has important lessons for teacher unionism today. The author offers a personal reflection on his involvement in that historic dispute, and connects the struggles of 1986 with those happening in 2016.

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From a Whisper to a Scream: the Campaign for Education in Brighton & Hove (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2016

This article gives a brief history of the creation and first two years of the Campaign for Education in Brighton and Hove. It makes a case for grass-roots responses to the various neo-liberal policy initiatives undermining all phases of public education. This article was written prior to publication of the White Paper, Educational Excellence Everywhere. Since then the campaign has acted as the centre of a broad mobilisation against the White Paper.

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Building a Social Movement for Education in England: responses to Richard Hatcher (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2016

In FORUM 57(3), 2015, Richard Hatcher outlined how it was necessary to build a social movement against government education policy and in support of an alternative reform agenda. We, the editors, believe this is an important, and complex, debate. As a contribution to developing further discussion around Richard's ideas we present two responses from those involved in education activism. Both contributions are submitted in a personal capacity. If you wish to further add to this debate, please email the editors (FORUM@wwwords.co.uk).

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OBITUARIES: Michael Armstrong (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2016

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OBITUARIES: Nanette Whitbread (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2016

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BOOK REVIEW: The Revolutionary Baby: an adventure in two-year-olds’ story-making (Laura Magnavacchi & Deborah Wilenski) (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2016

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Editorial. Improving on the Silence: talk in classrooms (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2016

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Pupils’ Knowledge and Spoken Literary Response beyond Polite Meaningless Words: studying Yeats’s ‘Easter, 1916’ (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2016

This article presents research exploring the knowledge pupils bring to texts introduced to them for literary study, how they share knowledge through talk, and how it is elicited by the teacher in the course of an English lesson. It sets classroom discussion in a context where new examination requirements diminish the relevance of social, cultural and historical knowledge in literary response, while curricular detail asserts the capacity of literature to support the cultural, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual development of young people. Transcripts of classroom discussion of 'Easter, 1916 by W.B. Yeats show where and how pupils deploy their own knowledge in interpretive work, and subtle techniques used by the teacher to elicit knowledge sharing. The data suggests the fallacy of decontextualised analysis of literature, and the significance of shared knowledge in communal spoken literary response.

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Toppling Teacher Domination of Primary Classroom Talk through Dialogic Literary Gatherings in England (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2016

Dialogic Literary Gatherings (DLGs), first implemented by Ramon Flecha, have proved to be a 'successful educational action' (SEA) for inclusion, social cohesion and raising children's attainment in several European and Latin American countries. This article reports their implementation in England and their consistent and dramatic reversal of the hard-to-shift teacher-pupil talk ratio. Primary children read an agreed chapter of a suitable edition of a classic text (e.g. The Odyssey) at home, and select an idea from the text to share with the class in the DLG. They say why they have chosen it and other children comment, giving their reasons for agreeing or disagreeing. The teacher chairs the discussion, ensuring that all who wish to speak can do so, and without giving evaluative feedback. Consistent findings are that over 75% of the class join in the dialogue, contributing over 80% of the talk, often in extended utterances which reveal reasoning and speculation. DLGs are associated with gains in motivation and attainment in reading (reported elsewhere). They have the potential to close the class-based attainment gap.

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Moving Beyond ‘Shut up and Learn’ (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2016

This article analyses the sort of classroom talk that leads to effective learning, and some of the forces which operate against such practices. It starts with an analysis of the classroom context and the dominant patterns of interaction. These cause processes of learning to be hidden. It then develops by an analysis of effective learning, comprising four headings: active, collaborative, learner-driven and learning-focused. Under each heading important forms of classroom talk are analysed, and principles are offered for developing improved practice.

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Making Waves: towards a pedagogy of discourse (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2016

This article re-examines the classroom discourse context in early years settings and primary schools. It seeks to understand why such slow progress has been made in developing talk for learning in recent years. The article acknowledges that children are already expert language users by the time they start school and offers practitioners practical ways to enhance children's thinking and learning by developing their capabilities in talk.

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MAYDAY! MAYDAY! Testing to Destruction (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2016

This is a fictional account of what might happen if pupils feeling burdened by endless testing and examinations, decided to take matters into their own hands.

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Children First: an alternative approach to assessment (The Brian Simon Memorial Lecture 2015) (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2016

The author discusses the importance of listening to children and engaging them in dialogue about their learning. She does not accept that assessment should entail labelling children and believes such practices encourage a culture of fixed 'ability' thinking. Through examples of specific children, the author illustrates the importance of openness as a disposition that allows children to surprise us with what they are able to achieve.

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Linking Primary Education and Sure Start to Avoid Low Achievement Later (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2016

This article suggests that many of the 16-year-olds who don't achieve a C or better in GCSE English may have had parents who didn't recognise the value of talking to them from the moment they were born. It argues that a bringing together of health visitors, Sure Start centres and primary schools could help lift many children out of the cultural poverty associated with poor language skills. But it won't help if the cultural poverty of a home is due to economic poverty, inevitably causing parent(s) to spend little quality time with their young offspring.

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Five Propositions that Explain Why Schools Struggle to Improve Social Mobility (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2016

Government plans to increase social mobility in the United Kingdom place a strong emphasis on improving education to ensure more equal life chances for everyone. As Secretary of State for Education between 2010 and 2014, Michael Gove declared that he was 'determined to do everything I can to help the poorest children in our country' transcend their backgrounds and progress to leading positions in the land. This policy goal is consistent with the widespread perception that a better life depends on working hard at school to gain qualifications and entry to prestigious universities. This article argues, however, that government-mandated improvements in teaching, the curriculum and examinations are unlikely to achieve their desired goal. Five propositions are presented to illustrate the strength of the varied obstacles to social mobility. Deep structures, including poverty and class and gender inequalities, shape the lives of families and individuals in ways that are not easily changed by educational intervention.

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Higher Attaining but Emotionally Brittle: why we need to assess how school marketing policies affect students (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2016

The entrenching of competitive values within the public-market field of secondary education has led to the formation of academically focused institutions whose budgets and reputations are based on gaining large numbers of students who have the best chance of attaining highly in public examinations. Although parents have become savvier about their consumer rights, and as regards the use of advertisements that schools produce, the medium and long term impact of the deployment of the majority of marketisation tools on students has yet to be assessed. A consequence of this over-marketing process may be that some students prove to be less successful academically after transfer. If the government continues with a policy based on the market model, the impact of marketing tools that schools implement needs to be assessed so that parents can be secure in the knowledge that first and foremost their child is happy and safe at school.

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A Second Look at Brian Simon’s Bending the Rules (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2016

In this article the author revisits an important book: Brian Simon's Bending the Rules: the Baker reform of education. Written by a key figure in the history of the journal FORUM as well as in the history of education, Simon's book documented the features of the Education Reform Bill of 1987 (the precursor to the Education Reform Act of 1988). In the book, Simon explored with passion and in depth the far-reaching implications and the threats to democracy that the Bill posed and that reverberate in the present in the education system of England. He demonstrated the huge and united opposition to the Bill at the time. In this article the author attempts to convey a sense of all this. Within the scope of the article, it is not possible, of course, to chart the history of the developments in education since the Bill passed into law and became the 1988 Education Act. The author highlights some of the issues raised by Simon that resonate in the context of the 'Schools Revolution' today.

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A Second Look at Douglas Barnes’s From Communication to Curriculum (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2016

This article revisits Douglas Barnes's book-length exploration of the implications for teachers of a constructivist epistemology, notably in relation to the importance of small-group talk in classrooms. Empirically based consideration of small-group exploratory pupilâ€'pupil talk enabled Barnes to reveal the learning strategies such a context elicits, and to argue for its educational significance. Barnes also considers how a curriculum can be seen as a form of communication. He identifies the importance of pupil engagement if learning is to be effective, and explores some of the patterns of communication which enhance such engagement. Barnes's attention to pupils' production of knowledge through exploratory talk retains its power to correct the view that teaching is essentially about the delivery of predetermined lesson-content.

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BOOK REVIEWS (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2016

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Editorial. Where Are We Now? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2015

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The Future Is Not What it Used to Be (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2015

This article briefly overviews the likely future of education as planned after the 2015 Conservative election success. Although education was not a major item in election manifestos or in subsequent discussion, the Department for Education claims that it is rolling out one of the most ambitious education reform movements in the world. How the break-up of a national public educational system is being achieved, primarily through an academies programme and a changed assessment system, and a requirement that all educational institutions, including universities, become competitive businesses, needs far more debate and understanding than any political party is currently willing to undertake.

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Gove v. the Blob: the Coalition and education (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2015

The author provides a year-by-year account of events during the period of the Conservative-led coalition government from 2010 to 2015 and concludes with some observations on the damage done to England's state education system.

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Building a Social Movement for Education in England: policy and strategy (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2015

This article addresses the programmatic and strategic choices facing the progressive and left movement in education after the May general election. It draws a critical balance sheet of the education policies in Labour's election manifesto and of the strategy of attempting to influence them in a more progressive direction. An analysis of the education policies of the four Labour leadership candidates reveals that only one, Jeremy Corbyn, marks out a new and radical direction. The article argues that a new strategy is needed, based on building a popular social movement for education, in order both to develop resistance to the policies of the Conservative government and to transform those of the Labour Party as the only governmental alternative. The article ends by offering examples of the resources on which the project of a radical social movement for education can draw.

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Brian Simon: his life and legacy A Special Centenary Event (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2015

This is an outline of the celebration held at the UCL Institute of Education, London, on what would have been Brian Simon's one hundredth birthday.

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Humanism in Education (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2015

This is the text of Michael Armstrong's address to the Brian Simon Centenary conference, held at the Institute of Education on 26 March 2015. Michael Armstrong celebrates the humanism that underlay Brian's belief in a common system of education, democratic and non-selective, and finds its counterpart in the creative practice of schoolchildren.

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Is ‘Learning without Limits’ a Framework of Values? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2015

In this article the author connects his own work with Brian Simon's writing on IQ (intelligence quotient) testing and selection and with the Learning without Limits project. He discusses the significance he gives to a values framework in the development of education and asks whether 'Learning without Limits', in part, stands for a similar framework. He sees the work of the Learning without Limits team as a bright light. It is powered by renewable energy, in a murky educational landscape itself powered too often by the same dubious energy sources that may destroy this planet unless we stop using them. This work matters.

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Why Bringing Back Grammar Schools is not Proving a Popular Idea: two successes for the comprehensive argument in recent student union debates (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2015

As moves grow once more to expand selective education in the United Kingdom, this is a short report of two lively and well-attended debates at the universities of Manchester and Cambridge in the early part of 2015. Both debates were resoundingly won by those arguing against a return to a divisive system based on the 11+. Instead, audiences accepted arguments that what is needed now is consolidation of the comprehensive system drawing on the extensive work, and many successes, of the past fifty years.

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Grammar Schools: where are we now? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2015

Apart from one amalgamation there are as many grammar schools in England as when Labour took office in 1997. Selection at age 11 still influences English education and unless there are changes its effect is likely to increase. Legislation introduced in 1998 which could have ended selection had no effect. The pressure from the right-wing minority for more selection continues while the case for ending selection becomes even stronger. Ending selection could be achieved without any school closures. What is lacking so far is the political will.

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The Business of Governing Schools (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2015

In September 2015, the Secretary of State for Education asked for more business involvement in schools, and in particular for business leaders' help to improve failing schools. This article questions the twenty-year campaign by all governments to engage business expertise and values in the governance of schools.

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Mr Cameron’s Three Million Apprenticeships (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2015

In the 2015 general election campaign David Cameron celebrated the success of apprenticeships during the Coalition and promised another 3 million. This article argues that the 'reinvention' of apprenticeships has neither created real skills nor provided real alternatives for young people and that the UK schemes fall far short of those in Germany, for example. Apprenticeships can only be improved, it concludes, if there are alternative economic policies to support them.

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How to get into a Faith School: a case of malpractice and cheating (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2015

This article looks at the extent of parental cheating to get their child of primary-school age into a local faith school.

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Building Comprehensive Education: Caroline Benn and Holland Park School (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2015

This article is based on an inaugural professorial lecture given by Jane Martin at the University of Birmingham on 3 December 2014. It grew out of research in progress on the life and work of the leading educational reformer, Caroline Benn, wife of one of the most prominent and controversial post-war socialists in Britain, Tony Benn.

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Learning English in London, 1946-1964: a personal account of a comprehensive education (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2015

This account of the author's learning to read, write, speak and listen was inspired by English teachers in a post-war democracy, and by the discovery that Eltham Green School, the original of his comprehensive experiences, had ceased to exist. The author believed the theme of learning English would help him write more coherently than before about the tensions in post-war education between innovation and tradition. The story extends beyond secondary lessons and their supposed consequences, however, and explores the complex interactions of parent, family and teacher influences. The author concludes that teachers often underestimate the scale of the task before them because they so much wish to overcome the social and cultural differences between children.

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What is the School Revolution? Can it Be Sustained? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2015

The Symposium on Sustainable Schools (SOSS), an independent publishing operation, has contributed several pamphlets critical of Coalition policy in specific issues. The alarming lack of serious debate about education in the May election, and the radical Conservative programme operated as soon as the election was over, demand a wider perspective. This Open Letter is a contribution to an analysis of the big picture of education policy as it is now developing.

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BOOK REVIEW (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2015

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Editorial. Education: looking beyond (the) election(s) (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2015

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Education in a World Wracked by Crisis (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2015

The author argues that there have been major challenges to, and changes in, the role that education now plays in societies around the world. Pointing to growing social inequalities in countries like the USA and Europe, she explores the dynamics that have given rise to these education inequalities through a critical focus on five crises. She concludes by calling for imagination about how to develop a very different kind of society through more socially-just institutions.

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School and Young People in Greece at Times of Crisis: the repercussions of Memorandum policies (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2015

Greece constitutes, in many respects, an indicative case of implementing neoliberal policies in Europe in the main sectors of politics and economy, as much as in the more specific sector of education. This article starts from a number of significant issues Greek public education has been facing in recent decades. Next, it focuses on analysing the impact of the policy enforced in Greece during the Memorandum era along two basic axes, given their direct interrelation: the educational institutions and the ages of childhood and adolescence. In light of recent developments, the study concludes by formulating final thoughts and concerns.

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Current Developments in School Education in Turkey: education ‘reforms’ and teacher trade union responses (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2015

Education 'reforms' have been accelerated in the last decade in Turkey. Teachers, as the main actors of the education system, have developed a variety of responses to the reforms implemented in the field of education, both individually and collectively. They give directions to the change process in education by means of their trade unions. The unions have played important roles in the generation and implementation of educational policies with the strategies that they have developed. This article aims to analyse current developments in school education in Turkey and teacher trade union responses against the 'reforms'. For this aim, firstly, the general structure of the education system in Turkey will be identified followed by an analysis of the neoliberal policies that are a feature of the Turkish system. Finally, teacher trade unions' attitudes, compliance and resistance towards the 'education reforms' will be addressed in the context of the local dynamics of Turkey.

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Learning Lessons from Chicago (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2015

This article describes how the Chicago schools system has been bedeviled by the social conditions faced by the city's inhabitants, and now by attempts to use privatization and school closures as the 'solution' to those problems. The article describes how teachers in the Chicago Teachers' Union combined with community members to challenge the neo-liberal restructuring of the city's schools.

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‘That’s not what I am’: teacher reflections on purpose, practice and professionalism in the Swedish free school system (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2015

In this article, four teachers reflect on what it means to work in a for-profit free school in Sweden. These narratives corroborate concerns about educational inequity and academic standards within the free school system. Equally, they reveal how teachers struggle to negotiate a professional identity within a competitive school market where social ideals and institutional practices often conflict.

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That was the Crisis: what is to be done to fix Irish education now? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2015

In 2008 Ireland found itself in the forefront of the Eurozone crisis. The impact on education has been profound. In this article it is suggested that Ireland's education problems long pre-date the economic crisis and current 'reforms' are about long-term neoliberal restructuring, not short-term solutions to immediate economic problems. Rather than treat teachers as the problem, there is a need to work with the profession and to reclaim the value of education for its own sake. Teacher unions are central to mobilising around this much more optimistic vision of education.

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Gove’s Curriculum and the GERM (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2015

This article examines the complex relationship between England's new National Curriculum and the neoliberal reform of education known as GERM. It explores contradictions between economic functionality and Gove's nostalgic traditionalism. It critiques the new curriculum as narrow, age-inappropriate, obsessed with abstract rules, and poorly focused on enquiry and problem-solving: though battery-farming young children, it is therefore unlikely to lead to the cognitive development tested by PISA. Written just before the UK general election, its messages remain important as guidance for action and resistance.

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Poverty and Education (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2015

In this article the author discusses the multiple ways in which the enduring, and increasing, problems associated with child poverty blight young people's educational opportunities in the school system. Current policies, supported by a sympathetic media, blame individuals for their poverty, and blame teachers when they fail to 'close the gap'. The article concludes that these problems can only be addressed by increasing resources devoted to tackling poverty, and developing a more supportive and sophisticated approach to those schools facing the biggest challenges.

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For a New Public Early Childhood Education (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2015

In this article the author highlights the problems that have arisen from a fragmented and incoherent development of early years provision. These problems are compounded when early years education is cast in terms of ensuring children are 'school ready', by which it is meant ready to be developed as human capital in a world driven by economic imperatives. The author argues that there is an urgent need for provision that is not only coherent, but much more focused on the rich and diverse needs of children in a democratic society.

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Market Madness: condition critical (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2015

For over a quarter of a century there has been a creeping marketization of the English education system. No part of the system remains unscathed. In this article the consequences of marketization are set out clearly and alternative models of the future are presented. The author calls for another 'Great Debate' - but one that mobilises community enthusiasm for the aims of education and which seeks to refashion an education system based on a clear commitment to the public good. The condition of English education is critical. It has been weakened by pathological marketization and is in desperate need of treatment to restore it to health. In this article, the author tries to diagnose the disease, describes some of its symptoms and effects on various parts of the system and finally offers two possible prognoses for the patient; a turn for the worse and the start of a recovery.

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Prevent and ‘British Values’ (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2015

At the recent National Union of Teachers' conference the role of the Prevent strategy and the introduction of 'British Values' in the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills framework emerged as key issues for delegates. Two of the speeches made at the conference are presented here.

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More Outstanding Nonsense: a critique of Ofsted criteria (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2015

The Office for Standards in Education's most recently published criteria for 'outstanding' teaching are scrutinised and found wanting. They are seen as unrealistic for teachers to meet and equally unrealistic as criteria for use by inspectors. An explanation is offered as to why they are framed as they are and an alternative, more realistic and meaningful way of categorising schools and reporting findings is outlined.

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All Above Average: secondary school improvement as an impossible endeavour (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2015

This article argues that secondary school improvement in England, when viewed as a system, has become an impossible endeavour. This arises from the conflation of improvement with effectiveness, judged by a narrow range of outcome measures and driven by demands that all schools should somehow be above average. The expectation of comparable year-on-year examination results at age 15/16 in order to maintain standards of performance persists in uneasy tension with calls for continual improvement. The examination system acts as a limiter and sorter, with students, teachers and schools competing for grades that are constrained to a normal curve. GCSEs and their equivalents increasingly serve less to allow young people to demonstrate their achievements and more for holding schools and teachers to account. This has major implications for the justifiable desire that all our youngsters should learn in a 'good' school, which adds value and narrows gaps. As some schools push forward in improving these measures, others inevitably roll back. Questions are raised regarding the sense and wisdom in maintaining the current situation, aimed at shaking off our normal-curve and above-average conditioning.

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What Value ‘Value Added’? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2015

Two quantitative measures of school performance are currently used, the average points score (APS) at Key Stage 2 and value-added (VA), which measures the rate of academic improvement between Key Stage 1 and 2. These figures are used by parents and the Office for Standards in Education to make judgements and comparisons. However, simple statistical analysis suggests that the measures are correlated and, therefore, schools with high APS values have high VA. This calls into question whether the measures are objective and valuable as a means of assessing a school's efficacy.

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Editorial. Political Re-education (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2015

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Back to Basics: repoliticising education (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2015

This article is about the 'who' of policy rather than the 'what'. It is a plea for debate and discussion about the purposes of education. It is an argument for replacing technocratic solutions with democratic ones. It is about possibility rather than necessity.

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Labour’s New Education Policy Document: tensions, ambivalences and silences (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2015

This article critically examines the Labour Party's policies for local school systems, focusing on its proposals for regional Directors of School Standards, for academies and free schools, and for local democracy, and offers an alternative approach.

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Bacc to the Future: why we urgently need a more coherent and exciting framework for learning (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2015

Our current curriculum and qualifications framework is a 'fragmented mess' according to many of those who teach in, and lead, our schools. How can we change it with minimal disruption, particularly after four years of often destructive meddling from above? A number of individuals and groups at school level have been working to develop a 'baccalaureate' style approach to learning and accreditation which offers a genuinely comprehensive framework for a modern comprehensive system. To implement it would involve minimal disruption and public expenditure, merely large doses of pedagogic and political imagination and will. Can our politicians meet the challenge?

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Rather Than ‘Two Nation’ Labour, a Good General Education for Everybody (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2015

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League Tables Must Go: there are better ways of ensuring a quality education for all our children (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2015

Despite claims made for them, many current education policies have perverse consequences. If all our children are to benefit from the good education they deserve, we need: forms of accountability that do not rely on school performance tables of test results; a focus on standards that embody high expectations for all; the urgent creation of a College of Teaching; the establishment of a national board of education that sits above party politics and can plan long term.

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The Future of Primary Education (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2015

In this article the author argues that an incoming government should establish a new values base for educational policy focused on the well-being and educational entitlement of all children rather than the education market. A new government must prioritise learning and teaching: rather than pursuing an ideological agenda and attempting to control how teachers teach, it should respect the knowledge and expertise of educational professionals. The author illustrates how the instrumentalism of free market ideology carries pedagogical assumptions that are inappropriate and detrimental to children and their learning. Government's role, she suggests, should be to provide the right conditions for the development of education: the alleviation of poverty; the provision of equality of opportunity for all; and respect for the agency, voices and knowledge of the professional and wider communities, including children.

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Early Years: young children deserve the best possible start in life (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2015

That all young children should have the best possible start in life is a statement that tends to be met with universal agreement. This article, however, argues there are very many different kinds of ideologies that shape the kinds of 'best starts' early years teachers should strive for at a time when childhood poverty in rising and when early years settings are expected to promote a particular current type of 'school readiness'. Another national challenge is the fragmentation of workforce that directly impacts on the quality of the early years settings. This article calls for more efforts to sustain good-quality practices, such as integrated early years centres, and regardless of cost to develop long-term solutions for all young children.

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Labour Policy for Lower Achievers, Special Needs and Disabilities (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2015

This article notes that the attempt to include all young people in education, an aim of Labour governments over the years, still relies on an expanded and expensive special educational needs 'industry'. How to include all lower attainers and those with disabilities in the education system and the economy is a political issue for a Labour government. A start should be made on changing a competitive, hierarchical system that relegates many working-class children to lower levels of education and enhances middle-class fears for their 'less able' children.

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A Socialist Education Manifesto (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2015

In this article the author suggests a number of measures and policies that should be part of a socialist education manifesto. These specific suggestions address curriculum and assessment issues such as an anti-discriminatory curriculum for equality, funded education outside the school, the development of critical thinking and democracy in schools, and teacher education and qualifications. The author locates these policies within his own class background and autobiography.

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An End to Selection at Eleven: the long battle to make Labour listen (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2015

The author is a long-time advocate inside the Labour Party for ending selective education and the 11-plus. She outlines how Labour Party frontbenchers routinely ignore or deflect calls from Party members to stand up for comprehensive education in both word and deed. As UKIP, whose policy is to extend selective education more widely, rises in the polls, it is even more urgent that Labour makes the case for comprehensive success and offers a comprehensive future.

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Developing Innovative Approaches to Teaching and Learning through Lesson Study (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2015

The author, who teaches in a Norfolk comprehensive school, presents an account of her involvement with the new research practice of lesson study, and discusses its benefits as part of a continuing professional development programme designed to encourage teachers to become more reflective.

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English Higher Education: fees are only the half of it! (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2015

Tertiary-level educational provision is being increasingly fragmented by government policies, with malign consequences for students and institutions. As currently constituted, higher education works to entrench inequalities and devalue qualifications, while bipartisanship around the future of further education risks reprising past failures. What is needed is to replace market-driven expansion and competition with regional cooperation in order to reintegrate the system and rediscover the purpose of education at tertiary level. An expectation of, and an entitlement to, local/regional adult further and higher continuing education should be integral to school leaving. The system should be founded on a common general but not academic schooling up to age 18, linked to the assumption of democratic citizenship.

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Why Oracy Must Be in the Curriculum (and Group Work in the Classroom) (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2015

In this article it is argued that the development of young people's skills in using spoken language should be given more time and attention in the school curriculum. The author discusses the importance of the effective use of spoken language in educational and work settings, considers what research has told us about the factors that make group discussions productive or otherwise and outlines the practical guidance that research can provide for teachers on such matters. On this basis, the author suggests that recent actions by the Westminster government to devalue 'speaking and listening' in the National Curriculum are seriously misguided, as also are the polemical attacks on group-based activity in the classroom mounted by government supporters.

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Children’s Voice or Children’s Voices? How Educational Research Can be at the Heart of Schooling (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2015

There are problems with considering children and young people in schools as quite separate individuals, and with considering them as members of a single collectivity. The tension is represented in the use of 'voice' and 'voices' in educational debates. Voices in dialogue, in contrast to 'children's voice', are important and are of more value than can be described in the term 'democracy'. The voices of children and young people are presented, from a study of aloneness in schools. Analysis of the voices suggests they were involved in distinctively hermeneutic work, and an approach to research that generates such hermeneutics might be called a form of 'action philosophy'. This approach to research is surprising, and it can put voicing at the very heart of schooling, within classes.

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My Thirty-four Years as a School Governor, with Reflections on Some Aspects of Curriculum Change (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2015

This reflection does not pretend to be a scientific survey of curriculum trends but is, as the title suggests, a personal reminiscence of governorship across different phases of education, with snippets about the curriculum that my memory recalls.

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Inner London’s Education Authority: reflections on ILEA twenty-five years after closure (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2015

It is 25 years since the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) was abolished and management of education in central London transferred to 13 London boroughs. The author reflects on the experience of being an ex-ILEA head teacher, and of managing one of the new local education authorities in the immediate post-ILEA period. He begins by commenting on the role played by this journal in supporting dialogue between teachers and academics at a time of heightened debate about non-selective education.

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Marion Richardson: Art and the Child, a forgotten classic (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2015

Marion Richardson was a revolutionary art teacher and schools inspector. First published in 1948, her book Art and the Child is one of the most remarkable educational documents of the period between the first and second world wars. This article reviews Richardson's philosophy and practice of art and suggests its continuing significance for the teaching of art today.

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Marion Richardson. Children’s Drawing (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2015

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BOOK REVIEW (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2015

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Editorial. The Gove Legacy (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

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To Value Every Child in the Moment (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

This article takes as its starting point the assertion that the purpose of primary education is to value every child in the moment. The author examines one particular story by a six-year-old girl as an example of what this assertion implies, and of its significance for teaching and learning within the primary school.

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Evidence, Policy and the Reform of Primary Education: a cautionary tale (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

Here, at FORUM's invitation, is the text of the 2014 Godfrey Thomson Trust public lecture at the University of Edinburgh. Its backdrop is the centralisation of educational decision-making in England since 1988 and the power and patronage exercised by the Secretary of State. Taking as examples recent policies on childhood, curriculum and standards of pupil achievement, and referring to the evidence and experience of the Cambridge Primary Review, the article revisits and tests the claim that in England educational policy is now more problem than solution. While making necessary distinctions between policy as promulgated and enacted, and while showing that across a diverse canvas some policies have been better conceived and received than others, the article identifies three tendencies that all too often divide policy from truth and the prospect of effective and sustainable action: policymakers' selective use of evidence; the prior but as yet under-investigated mediation of that evidence by government officials as well as its more familiar distortion by the press; and the Manichaean narratives of progress, its architects and its enemies to which too many policymakers remain addicted.

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Educating Democracy: conjunctures in the long revolution (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

Democratic comprehensive education has been the target of neo-liberal governments - Conservative and New Labour - for thirty years. The project of the present right wing regime Coalition is to complete the demolition. The question before the social democratic tradition is thus to ask whether Raymond Williams' historic 'long revolution' unfolding over a century and more, to create an educated democracy, is now halted or even lies in ruins. Only an analysis of this longue durée can enable understanding of how we are to remake the future. Drawing upon Brian Simon's extraordinary history I construct different formations of education governance since the mid nineteenth century. An emergent theory of transformation is then proposed such that reforms to education and democracy need to be understood together as responses to periods of structural change, conjunctures, that generate crises and lead to political settlements: these expand but regulate participation and opportunity in order to preserve as far as possible prevailing traditions of power. The reform of education lies at the centre of the regulation of democracy.

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Schooling the Crisis? Education in the Aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

Five years on from the onset of the global financial crisis, there has been little sustained discussion of its implications for schooling. This is surprising when we consider that for the past three decades education has been shaped by assumptions about the need to prepare students for life in global capitalist economies. The consensus seems to be that students need to sit tight, study hard, draw on (if they are lucky) the reserves of 'The Bank of Mum and Dad', and delay gratification until the economy returns to normal. In education we see the intensification of policies to privatise schooling, develop new technologies and 'revolutionise' learning systems through innovation. This article explores the possibility that a return to normal is not likely in the short or medium term, and the response to the crisis is, in many countries, leading to a shrinking welfare state and a growing fear about the future. A new economic and social landscape is emerging which is based on different ways of living and relating (e.g. reduced consumption, local provision). These developments may lead to important shifts in the purposes and practices of schooling.

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Goodbye Michael Gove (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

Michael Gove was Secretary of State for Education from May 2010 to July 2014 when the Prime Minister sacked him. With strong opinions arising from his own life experiences and outstanding energy for reform, but severely limited understanding of education and a refusal to consult teachers and other professionals, he imposed half-baked ideas on the millions of young people in our schools and their teachers. We need a better way of making education policy.

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Free Schools and Academies (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

The number and range of problems associated with academies and 'free' schools is worrying and can be attributed to the lack of ability of central Government to oversee the increasingly fragmented education provision. In this article, the author looks at just a few of those problems which have been reported since she started to log them at the beginning of 2014.

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Why the Government Needs a Little History Lesson (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

The decision by ex-Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove to send his daughter to a state school caused much press comment and was discussed in a widely read article by Gove's spouse, the Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine. In this piece, Vine praised non selective state education, drawing on her own personal experience and that of her friends to support this decision. Her arguments were, in many ways, sound but they also left a great deal unsaid. No reference was made to the long history of struggle within this country for high quality comprehensive education and the fact that it was the progressive left that largely fought for its introduction, often fiercely resisted by many within the Conservative Party. Thus Vine, rather like the government of which her husband is a prominent member, presents a distorted view of modern educational and political history.

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School Admissions: fairness versus diverse types of schools, choice and own admission authorities (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

This article examines the minefield that now surrounds admissions starting with a comparison of the relatively easy system of the 1950s and early 1960s and the complexity of multiple admission authorities of today. Taking evidence from a range of agencies, including government official bodies, and admission issues, the article aims to show that a major factor in non-compliance with good and fair admissions practice is the rise of 'own admission authorities'. Their increase comes directly from structural changes to the provision of schools. The article concludes that to deal with the problem, an incoming Labour government cannot ignore those changes. The article supports the proposal of Comprehensive Future for a root and branch review of admissions.

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The Labour Party’s Blunkett Review: a comprehensive disappointment (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

David Blunkett's Review of Education Structures for the Labour Party recognises that there is a chaotic and unsatisfactory situation in the English education system but its response is ambiguous and self-contradictory. Its proposals seek to normalise and regulate rather than remedy a system in which lack of democratic accountability, unfair school admissions and selection and creeping privatisation have become the trend.

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A Trojan Horse in Birmingham (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

Pat Yarker gives an account of two official reports into the highly complex 'Trojan Horse' affair in BIrmingham.

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The Consequences of the Trojan Horse Affair and a Possible Way Forward for Birmingham (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

The UK government seized the opportunity of the Trojan Horse affair to launch a damaging Islamophobic attack, eagerly relayed by a racist press, on the Muslim community in Birmingham and beyond, abusing Ofsted and the Prevent strategy as blatant instruments of ideologically-driven policy. The various reports found no evidence of radicalisation or extremism but did find evidence of governance malpractice in some schools, informed by conservative Muslim views and enabled by the lack of local accountability of governing bodies as a result of the government's policies of academy autonomy and disempowered local authorities. The debate now is focused on moving forward, and this article ends by proposing that a Children's Zone approach offers a strategy which ensures that the community is centrally involved in a new democratic partnership.

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Social Selection and Religiously Selective Faith Schools (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

This article reviews recent research looking at the socio-economic profile of pupils at faith schools and the contribution religiously selective admission arrangements make. It finds that selection by faith leads to greater social segregation and is open to manipulation. It urges that such selection should end, making the state-funded school system more inclusive and reducing disadvantage.

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Educating Ethics: the probity of school governance (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

The privatisation of state education in a variety of ways has introduced a range of risks to school governance and management which have not previously existed in the public service. State-funded education is in danger of losing its standing on the moral high ground as a public good delivered almost exclusively by individuals committed to ethics above self-interest.

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Changes to the English Literature GCSE: a sociocultural perspective (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

Various sociological frameworks strongly suggest that recent changes to the English literature GCSE syllabus content will have a detrimental effect on those individuals who come from an environment with few sources of educationally exchangeable literary and linguistic cultural capital. In an attempt to provide a more sociological position from which to understand the situation, this article attempts to correlate a number of these frameworks, concluding that although more research would be necessary to reach a definitive conclusion, it is difficult to see how the recent GCSE changes will help (relatively speaking) those from an environment lacking in such capitals. It also suggests that perhaps a more vigorous system of policy surveillance is necessary if any future changes are to be properly and effectively addressed by the stakeholders in question.

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Radical Democratic Education as Response to Two World Wars and a Contribution to World Peace: the inspirational work of Alex Bloom (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

A key contributor to the 1948 New Education Fellowship The Teacher and World Peace submission to UNESCO, Alex Bloom is one of the most remarkable pioneers of radical democratic education of the twentieth century. In many important respects, Bloom's internationally renowned work from 1945-55 at St George-in-the-East Secondary Modern School in the East End of London can be seen as an iconic example of education for peace. Wounded in World War I, a teacher and then head teacher between the two World Wars and during World War II, this article explores key aspects of his commitment to a form of democratic education that was both a response to two great conflagrations of the twentieth century and a contribution to the possibility of less destructive ways of living and learning together in the future.

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Margaret and Rachel McMillan: their influences on open-air nursery education and early years teacher education (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

Rachel and Margaret McMillan created an open-air nursery in Deptford, London that has influenced early years education for 100 years. Their vision for young children living in poverty and deprivation to have access to fresh air through outdoor learning, nutritious meals, and an enriching environment to explore and develop has been embraced and interpreted internationally since its inception. This article explores the founding of the nursery, the ethos behind the practice, and the influence the open-air nursery has had on contemporary early years practice in England.

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Neglected Women Historians: the case of Joan Simon (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

Joan Simon (née Peel, 1915-2005) was the life-long partner of Brian Simon who helped launch FORUM in September 1958. Like Brian, she embraced a Communist outlook and engagement in the area of education. Unlike Brian, she practised the historian's craft outside the male academic hierarchy. Based on newly available personal papers this study sprang from my interest in the role of gender in the formation and dissemination of British social science, which I take to include the beginnings of economic and social history. Here the author draws attention to the scholarship and social action of Joan Simon to show how the production of new social knowledge helped shape the development and organisation of comprehensive education. The article is part of a larger project exploring the historical connections between university-based research and reformist efforts in the expanding and partially overlapping worlds of social studies and social action in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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A Retiring Education: on continuing to learn for its own sake (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

This article reflects on a fairly recent continuing education experience, seeking to identify some general principles for getting the most out of an approach to learning that has objectives which celebrate the acquisition of new knowledge for its own sake, rather than with a specific end in view, such as the attainment of a qualification.

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Tony Benn (3 April 1925-14 March 2014): an appreciation (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

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BOOK REVIEWS (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

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Picking Up the Pieces Manifesto (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2014

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Editorial. Teachers Reclaiming Teaching (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2014

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The Heart of the Matter (heymisssmith) (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2014

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A Matter of Time: the effects of time on learning (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2014

This article looks at how time might be viewed differently in the classroom, drawing on the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze in order to frame the exploration. It asks how teachers might become more attuned to difference, uncertainty and possibility in their classrooms and questions the wisdom of viewing the learning process in linear ways. The article draws on two examples of classroom practice - one a lesson observation and the other a lesson with a child struggling with his concept of self as a poor speller. It asks how those experiences might be differently viewed and acted upon if the teacher works as an artisan rather than as an architect.

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Ofsted: little boxes made of ticky-tacky (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2014

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Judging the Quality of Teaching in Lessons: some thoughts prompted by Ofsted’s subsidiary guidance on teaching style (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2014

Lesson observations involving judgements of teaching quality are a regular feature of classroom life. Such observations and judgements are made by senior and middle managers in schools and also, very significantly, by Ofsted inspectors as a major component of their judgement on the quality of teaching in a school. Using the example of Ofsted inspection, but with arguments that can apply also to routine classroom observation by school managers, this article teases out what can reasonably be said about teaching quality based on observation. It reveals the importance, but also the limitations, of classroom observation. It stresses the tentative, context-specific nature of judgements and the need for observers to have relevant experience and insight into the complexities and imponderables of classroom observation that focuses on teaching quality. It does not deal with the different but allied issue of whether lessons themselves should be graded.

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How to Be a Happy Teacher (heymisssmith) (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2014

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Power, Policy and Performance: learning lessons about lesson observation from England’s further education colleges (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2014

Lesson observation has been widely debated in education circles in recent times. From politicians to practitioners, everyone seems to have a view on it. Surprisingly, however, very little empirical research has been done on this important area of practice. With this in mind, this article explores some of the findings from a national research project investigating the use and impact of lesson observation on the professional lives of thousands of staff working in the further education (FE) sector. The project, sponsored by the University and College Union (UCU), adopted a mixed-methods approach and was carried out over a year (2012-13). This article argues that lesson observation has become a central crucible in which power is exercised over individuals and institutions alike under the guise of measuring and improving teacher performance. It considers what lessons can be learnt about its current use and concludes with recommendations as to what needs to change to enable the education sector to make better use of observation in the future.

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Teacher Professionalism: subverting the society of control (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2014

The past 30 years have seen a series of major shifts in English education. Central to these changes has been the growth of data systems which now measure and control the work of teachers to a huge degree. This form of data-led surveillance was predicted in the work of Gilles Deleuze, a totalising process where data become more important than the individuals to which they relate. This article considers the ramifications of the development of a 'Society of Control' within education before arguing that teachers have begun to identify and occupy nomadic spaces capable of subverting State narratives and building new opportunities for professionalism. The development of teacher-led professional development and the use of social media have both led to new opportunities for professional dialogue and debate which are important in counteracting policy developments enacted by those outside the profession. Finally, it is suggested that responsibilities come with the creation of new spaces for professional dialogue and development if teachers are to move centre stage in the wider educational debate.

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Does Two into School Really Go? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2014

Policy in relation to early years education is developing apace and is likely to be a significant issue in the 2015 election. This articles critiques current government thinking with its emphasis on ‘school readiness’. The article argues that the emotional and learning needs of young children are being neglected by a system that sees early years education as necessary to ensure ‘we can compete in the global race’. The article argues that we must resist the drive towards ‘schoolification’ and instead ensure that the long-term emotional well-being of children is the central aim of early years education.

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Sharrot Academies (heymisssmith) (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2014

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Finding the Openings Amid the Closings: one school’s approach to taking ownership of teaching and learning (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2014

Education is in challenging times, largely due to economic cutbacks on the one hand and growing demands on teachers to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student population on the other. Given these constraints, teachers' desire and self-confidence to initiate and use their own imaginations to meet the diverse needs of their students is diminished. This article focuses on an approach that demonstrates how teachers in one school took ownership of their teaching and learning within these constraints, resulting in a more sustainable approach to teaching and learning for all students. The article draws on findings from a qualitative study in a large urban school in the Republic of Ireland in order to demonstrate how teacher agency can be fostered and developed over time. The analysis shows that teachers are ultimately concerned with what will work for their students in their classrooms, and consequently they will sustain practices that meet the needs of their students. This article argues that teachers are willing to use innovative and imaginative approaches to sustainability, and open to the idea, when empowered and facilitated to do so. Arguably affording teachers autonomy to be more innovative and creative leads to teachers taking ownership of their own teaching and learning, which can lead to more sustainable outcomes. The authors conclude that despite a global economic recession and increasing demands on teachers, there are openings within the closings where teachers can take ownership of their teaching and learning, which arguably results in more imaginative and innovative practices for sustainable futures.

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Teachers Are Doing It For Themselves: using social media for professional development and advocacy (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2014

Social media, such as Twitter and blogs, has opened up new possibilities for teachers to communicate. In the face of increasingly centralised policy agendas, social media has created spaces for teachers to talk to each other, share with each other and learn from each other. This article explores how teachers are creating their own spaces by using social media and how social media can support both autonomous professional learning and new forms of activism.

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Moments or a Movement? Teacher Resistance to Neoliberal Education Reform (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2014

Public school teachers in the USA are working in an era of intense interference from neoliberal reform policies. Corporate-driven forces are working to dismantle unions, narrow curricula, replace neighborhood schools with charter schools, tie student test scores to teacher evaluations and replace university-prepared career teachers with 'elites' from Teach for America who have five weeks of teacher training and a two-year commitment to teach in 'high need' schools. Nevertheless, teachers across the USA are engaging in social action to combat neoliberal reforms. This article examines instances of teacher action and asks: are these moments of teacher resistance or the beginning of a movement of teacher resistance to neoliberal school reform?

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Reality Bites (heymisssmith) (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2014

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Flipping the Educational System: putting teachers at the heart of teaching (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2014

This article describes an initiative led by two classroom teachers from the Netherlands to put teachers back at the centre of the educational process. The article argues that the educational system has become inverted, with those who are most influential (teachers) having the least opportunity to influence. The challenge is to 'flip the system' so that government and school leaders throughout the system are focused on supporting teachers.

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Standing Up for Education: organising at the local level (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2014

This article describes how one local teachers' union branch has developed an active and imaginative campaign as it has challenged both national education policy and also the very specific attacks on schools in the community. By connecting local and national issues, and by linking struggles on pay and pensions to wider questions of policy, the local union has been able to engage both teachers and parents in broad campaigns that 'stand up for education'.

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Standing Up for Education: building a national campaign (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2014

Over the past four years, the UK coalition government has made significant progress in transforming the state education system. This transformation has its roots in a longer-term restructuring of education. This article argues that, in order to counter this attack, we need to build a movement around an alternative vision of education. Further, it argues that the Stand Up for Education campaign, through posing five key demands and a three-strand strategy to campaign for them, provides an opportunity to outline an alternative and build such a movement.

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BOOK REVIEWS (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2014

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Editorial. Adventures in Education (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2014

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‘We’re a little bit lost aren’t we?’: outdoor exploration, real and fantastical lands, and the educational possibilities of disorientation (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2014

This article advocates an approach to outdoor exploration that begins by welcoming the unknown and quite possibly disorientating aspects of wild places. It proposes that one of the major ways in which young children make lasting connections with landscape is through imagination and the power of invention, and argues for the rights of children to experience two fundamental freedoms in the wild outdoors - physical freedom to adventure into the land, and freedom of the imagination, to make cultural meaning from their experience. The project described here took place in spring 2013, and was a ten-week collaboration between Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination (CCI) and Ruby Class (Reception) from Cromwell Park Primary School in Huntingdon. Two CCI creative practitioners, Deb Wilenski and Caroline Wendling, worked with thirty children, their teacher Ben Wilson, and assistants Karen Lewin and Kelly Smith. They spent each Monday morning in Hinchingbrooke Country Park, and in the afternoon returned to school to continue their explorations.

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Learning from Children: learning from Caroline Pratt (1867-1954). Early Progressives in Early Years Education (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2014

This review of Caroline Pratt’s life and work in early years education includes an account of how a six-year-old boy taught a woman in her thirties what she needed to know in order to open a school – in 1914 – that continues to this day, a school that was, in the founder’s own words, fitted to the child and not the other way around. It finds a clear case of parallel evolution in some of her contemporaries in England, and examines aspects of her beliefs and practice that are highly challenging and contentious for educators today. Caroline Pratt’s story invites us to think about how reliable learning from children, or learning from the past, can ever be. Maybe all learners, teachers and children, yesterday, today and tomorrow, cannot escape the grand responsibility of asking their own questions, and of being in charge of their own learning.

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The Dinosaur in the Classroom: what we stand to lose through ability-grouping in the primary school (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2014

Embedding setting (subject-based ability-grouping) into the primary school environment creates structural conflict - physically and culturally - fundamentally changing the nature of primary schools through the imposition of secondary practices and cultures and the loss of pastoral care. This article examines the hidden implications for teachers and pupils of taking on secondary school roles within the primary school context. It highlights the wide-ranging, yet nuanced impacts of the use of setting, examining the shift towards subject-based thinking and the erosion of the pastoral-centred holistic ethos of primary education.

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Beautiful Nonsense: children’s authentic art-making and Deleuzian difference (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2014

When we join with another who shares our sensibilities, we have potential for doing good. This article explores how the self-initiated art making of children that happens outside the classroom challenges the child emotionally and intellectually more than teacher-directed school art. Furthermore, authentic collaborative art making creates a site where a child can affect and be affected by others. This freedom opens shared spaces to encounter joy in otherness.

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In Progress Internationally: student voice work in four countries (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2014

The late Jean Rudduck led the most extensive and sustained programme of Student Voice work in the United Kingdom to date through the Economic and Social Research Council project 'Consulting Pupils about Teaching and Learning'. She continues to inspire discussion around Student Voice and its transformational possibilities, bequeathing also a specific legacy, executed by John Grey, to support a a visiting fellow, Alison Cook-Sather, at Homerton College, Cambridge. In June 2013 the third of four seminars was held entitled 'Linking across the Lines: works in progress', hosted by Alison, John Gray and Julia Flutter. It was an exploration of cross-context and cross-level projects from 'differently positioned participants' in education (Cook-Sather, 2013), including students, teachers, researchers and policy makers, all committed to the development of relationships highlighted in Michael Fielding's special issue of FORUM on Student Voice (2001).

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Spaces for Partnerships. Teach the Teacher: student-led professional development for teachers (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2014

Students and schools struggle to create recognised spaces within which partnership dialogues about learning and teaching can occur. This reduces the roles of students and their school organisations to either complainants or organisers of marginal activities. Students in Victoria, Australia have initiated a 'Teach the Teacher' program, in which students lead a process of teacher professional development around classroom or whole-school issues of concern that are identified by students. While the program is in the early stages of dissemination within secondary schools, there are promising responses from schools, and there is some indication of influences upon both learning practices and roles of student councils. Initial reflections identify the role of productive and collaborative questioning, teacher recognition of the value of authentic discussions with students, and the location of such a program in relation to state education guidelines as important factors to consider.

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Ontario’s Student Voice Initiative (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2014

This article describes in some detail aspects of the Student Voice initiative funded and championed by Ontario's Ministry of Education since 2008. The project enables thousands of students to make their voices heard in meaningful ways and to participate in student-led research. Some students from grades 7 to 12 become members of the Student Advisory Council to the Minister for Education, and meet with the Minister twice a year to help inform education policy and spark new thinking.

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Enacting Student Voice through Governance Partnerships in the Classroom: rupture of the ordinary for radical practice (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2014

Student voice is a construct that has come to mean many things to many people. In this article the author is interested in forms of student voice practice that generate a shift in status for students, from passive recipients of schooling to governance partners with teachers in the classroom. She argues that governance partnerships that include students in joint pedagogical decision-making in the classroom embody the radical intent of student voice, which is to disrupt educational hierarchies and generate roles of influence for students. Within an educational context where student voice can mean almost anything - so is in danger of meaning very little - governance partnerships disrupt the ordinary as a starting point for radical practice.

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Student-Staff Partnerships as Transformational: the ‘Students as Learners and Teachers’ program as a case study in changing higher education (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2014

In this article the author offers an example of a student-staff partnership program based in a higher education context in the United States. This program positions undergraduate students as pedagogical consultants to academic staff. The goal of the program is to counter traditional hierarchies and imbalanced power relations and foster a shift in institutional culture toward a more dialogic and collaborative approach to teaching and learning. Drawing on reflections of student and staff participants, the author illustrates how the program catalyzes student, staff and institutional transformation.

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A Teacher’s Retrospective View of the Syrian Educational System (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2014

This is a descriptive, as much as an interpretive, article about the Syrian educational system and the first-hand experience of an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) practitioner describing the system from within, as much as from without. 'From within' because it is based on observations derived from his own teaching experience at a private school in Syria. 'From without' because of his looking back at that experience from the vantage point, and with the wisdom, of hindsight.

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Comprehensive Education Bolivarian-style: the alternative school in Barrio Pueblo Nuevo, Venezuela (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2014

In this article, the author traces revolutionary developments in an alternative school in Barrio Pueblo Nuevo, Mérida, in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, a school that caters for students between 4 and 14. He begins by recounting some fieldwork done at the school on his behalf by Edward Ellis in 2010. He goes on to discuss a video made at the school by the children in 2011. He concludes by updating Ellis’s fieldwork. This consists of an interview in 2012 with the school’s co-founder, Miguel Cortez, also carried out by Ellis.

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Writing Spaces, Professional Places: how a teachers’ writing group can nurture teaching identities (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2014

The National Writing Project (NWP) aims to promote writing groups for teachers to inform practice and raise the understanding of writing and learning to write. Writing Teachers groups do more than support teachers of writing. They can be characterised as communities of practice and as such may provide a space where teachers may construct professional knowledge and establish teaching identities in mutually supportive ways. This article focuses, in particular, on how this may have worked for one newly qualified teacher.

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A Matter of Ideology: a response to the Draft Primary Mathematics Programmes of Study (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2014

This article is the text from a talk given to the conference The Primary Curriculum: English, mathematics and science in 2014 on 27 February 2013 at Canterbury Hall, London, organised by the National Association for Primary Education (NAPE). In it the author argues that the current consultation process is flawed as there is an ideological divide between Subject Association's views of effective learning and teaching and the beliefs of the current government. He argues that the Subject Associations base their arguments on research and years of experience whereas government policy often aims for easy political wins. This means that the current curriculum does not meet the needs of our learners. The article ends with a call for all who are engaged within the education system to work towards a curriculum which has the development of a participative democratic society at its heart rather than the economic needs of the government.

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My NQT Year: a primary teacher’s account of his first year of teaching (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2014

This article describes and reflects on the experience of a newly qualified teacher (NQT) in an inner-city primary school awaiting its Ofsted inspection under Gove’s regime.

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What Is To Be Done? Possibilities for the Counter-offensive (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2014

This article sketches one line of march for the counter-offensive to current education policy called for in the previous issue of FORUM. It highlights three key areas where, in his drive to 'revolutionise' the education service, the Education Secretary has over-extended himself and become vulnerable. It calls for sharp and sustained scrutiny of current policy in the areas of teacher supply, the provision of school buildings, and changes to the examination and league table system purportedly designed to raise attainment.

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Classrooms as Sites of Curriculum Delivery or Meaning-making: whose knowledge counts? (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2014

Whereas the previous government, regarding education primarily as a means to an end, showed little interest in questions of curriculum content, Gove's counter-revolution involves the enforcement of a deeply authoritarian politics of knowledge. An adequate response to such cultural and curricular conservatism needs to expose the falsity of Gove's claims to rigour, but also to promote an alternative model of curriculum and pedagogy. The salient features of such an alternative are to be found both in the history of progressive education and also in aspects of current practice - aspects that are ignored or marginalised in the dominant discourses of education.

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The Best That Has Been Thought and Said? (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2014

FORUM has marked the progress of the Cambridge Primary Review by three previous articles from Robin Alexander, the Review's director, and by critiques and responses from several others, notably FORUM's Michael Armstrong. In 2013 the Review was superseded by the Cambridge Primary Review Trust, and this article is the text of the keynote delivered at the Trust's London launch on 23 September 2013. It briefly assesses the Review's impact to date, warning that to attempt to do so is a rather more complex enterprise than some commentators allow. It then outlines the Trust's four programmes and seven priorities, tracing the latter back to the Review's conclusions and the debate they provoked. Finally, the article returns to one of the Review's (and this author's) abiding themes: the public discourse of educational policy and policymakers' handling of evidence. In both matters, the current government, like its predecessor, is found severely wanting, and the author argues that these discursive and evidential deficits not only continue to frustrate educational progress but are also in themselves profoundly anti-educational, not to say ill-educated.

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Still ‘Learning to Be Human’: the radical educational legacy of John Macmurray (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2013

This article explores some of the key themes of John Macmurray's recently published lecture, 'Learning to be Human'. It focuses initially on three elements of his argument: relationships in education; education and the economy; and our corrosive obsession with technique. It then utilises Macmurray's views to develop a typology of schooling intended to help us understand why so much of what we do now is counter-productive and how we might go about doing things differently in ways expressive of a more generous view of human flourishing.

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The Cause of Nowadays and the End of History? School History and the Centenary of the First World War (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2013

The review of the National Curriculum and the centenary of the First World War have emphasised an orthodox patriotic and nostalgic historical ideal. The British coalition Conservative-Liberal government has aligned itself with the centenary commemorations of the First World War, while the war as social and political history may be in danger of being overshadowed by celebration and its profound and enduring implications therefore not fully understood.

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Memories of The Cherwell School (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2013

On 13 July 2013, the Cherwell School in Oxford celebrated its Golden Jubilee. Among the speakers was Philip Huckin, a pupil at the opening of the school in 1963 who went on to work in education for more than 33 years, mostly in comprehensive schools and often in socially challenging areas. This is the text of his speech.

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I Do Not Believe in ‘Intelligence’ or ‘Ability’ or ‘Aptitude’ – and Neither Should You (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2013

Anybody who has studied education over the past forty years is aware that secondary education in England is the subject of continuous and continuing debate. Everyone has been to school and therefore everyone lays claim to some expertise - the lot of teachers is never easy. But it is a contention of this article that teachers are at least partly responsible for what is arguably the most damaging characteristic of English education: the persistent and pervasive belief in the notion of 'intelligence'.

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Developing Relationships between Parents and Schools (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2013

It is well documented that parental involvement in their children's education is a key factor in improving outcomes for young people, and yet many schools struggle to engage parents. This article discusses the rationale for working in partnership with parents and makes the case for building parental participation in school life so that parents are able to contribute to the dialogue about the purposes of education and can be involved in school decision making. Examples from both primary and secondary sectors show how developing such a partnership can transform home-school relationships and create a shared sense of purpose.

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‘Varmits and Turnips’: personal experiences of a secondary modern education, 1958-1962 (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2013

This article is not intended to be an autobiography. It relates to the experiences of the author as a pupil in a secondary modern school in Wiltshire during the late 1950s and early 1960s. He suffered the experience of being an 11-plus failure and a secondary modern graduate at the age of 15 years. Later in life he had a much more rewarding career as a teacher in a comprehensive school. He supports the comprehensive school ethos because he had previously experienced the alternative. This article relates what his perceptions were of being a pupil in a secondary modern school, with a mixture of the 'old guard teachers' brought up on the Hadow ideology of a modern school, and the more dynamic young teachers who entered the school and had a profound influence on the author in shaping his future life and career.

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BOOK REVIEWS (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2013

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The Need for a Counter Offensive (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2013

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Secondary School Examinations: a historical perspective (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2013

Michael Gove has made examination reform a marked feature of his period as Education Secretary in the coalition government, although he has not always found it easy to bring about the changes he feels so strongly about, in the face of widespread opposition from teachers and educationists. This article seeks to analyse the Education Secretary's recent proposals and set them in a historical context.

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‘Raising Standards’ or Reducing Aspirations and Opportunities Still Further? Michael Gove and Examination Reforms (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2013

Well before the examinations grade crisis of 2012, Michael Gove had set out clear intentions for reforming public examinations. Though he claimed to be improving examinations and assessment by replicating practices that took place in high-performing countries and thus improving the ability of the UK economy to 'compete', this contribution argues that Gove's agenda aims to reduce student success rates and reflects declining employment opportunities for young people. It calls for radical alternatives.

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You May Start Writing Now (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2013

This article, an extract from the author's book Head on the Block, describes how the purpose of the school examination system has changed such that now it is to evaluate the performance of teachers rather than the performance of their students. It highlights some of the negative effects of school league tables - in particular, how the pressure on schools to improve results year on year and the tactics employed by some schools to achieve this have led to a distortion of the curriculum and a move away from real education. Can schools which claim 100% A* to C success at GCSE for all their students be genuinely comprehensive?

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Gove’s War (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2013

Policy pursued by Education Secretary Michael Gove promises to bring about the first national teachers' strike for a generation. This article reviews the nature and effect of Gove's intensification of academisation, and outlines ways in which edu-business is involved.

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The Enigmatic Mr Gove (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2013

Michael Gove's personal tastes and priorities dominate the education landscape as he drives through reforms designed to ensure that every child has the opportunity to learn 'the best that has been thought and said' as a foundation for upward social mobility. This article examines the coherence and progress of the government's reform programme, explores the personal history and contribution of Mr Gove himself, and considers the prospects for success. It argues that the Education Secretary is a 'riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma' and that his flawed understanding of society and education have fatally compromised his plans. His vision involves returning the nation's teachers and children to the lost world of private education in Scotland during the 1980s, and his visceral contempt for state schools and teachers has led him to alienate the professionals on whom true success depends. The article concludes that Mr Gove is the victim of his own limited education.

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Turning in Their Graves? A Tale of Two Coalitions – and What Happened in Between (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2013

Amid the horrors of the Second World War, a group of Board of Education officials met to plan a new public education system which would be fair to and free for all. In the seventy years since then, successive governments have not only failed to live up to their vision but have increasingly sought to interfere with the teaching and learning process and to dismantle the democratic edifice they created.

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What Price Free Schools? The Continued Insidious Privatisation of UK State Education (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2013

A review of American charter schools and Swedish free-school research is outlined, providing strong evidence that both free-market models are flawed in their claims of enhancing young people's educational experience. A substantial body of work is included that strongly indicates charter and free schools increase social segregation and lower educational attainment. It is also agued that the rationale for and commitment to competition undermines cooperation between schools and reinforces class differentiation, suggesting the view that the model facilitates choice is erroneous. It is also argued its inception in the UK is, like the academies model, driven by a narrow ideological stance and should be replaced by a non-selective, state-funded, comprehensive school model accessible to all.

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Teachers on Strike: a struggle for the future of teaching? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2013

Teachers in England and Wales are involved in the largest campaign of industrial action since the mid-1980s. At the heart of their grievances are government plans to abolish a national framework for teachers' pay and the removal of important safeguards relating to working conditions. Wider questions of workload and pensions are also involved. This article argues that the changes to teachers' pay and working conditions cannot be divorced from the wider objective of establishing a largely privatised system of state-subsidised schooling. Such a goal is based on a much-changed vision of teaching, which in turns assumes a low-cost, flexible and fragmented workforce. The article seeks to link the changes proposed to teachers' pay and conditions to wider changes in the nature of teaching as work and the future of teaching as a profession. It argues that the teachers' pay dispute opens up important possibilities to interrupt the trajectory of current policy and to create spaces to present alternative visions of the future of teaching and what a democratic and public education system might look like.

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Fighting Gove’s Nightmare Vision for Primary Education (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2013

This article examines the new National Curriculum for primary schools that has been recently announced by the Secretary of State for Education. The article discusses some of the implications of that curriculum for children and teachers and ends with ideas for how we can effectively campaign against it.

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A Charter for Primary Education (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2013

This is the text of A Charter for Primary Education, which is jointly backed by a number of groups and individuals, including the Socialist Teachers' Alliance (STA), the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), John Coe of the National Association of Primary Education (NAPE) and children's author Michael Rosen. It was launched at a very successful STA conference held in London on 15 June 2013.

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Like an ‘Uncontrolled Toddler’ Elizabeth Truss Risks Causing Chaos in England’s Nursery Education and Child Care Sector (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2013

This article looks at the impact of the Education and Childcare Minister on the provision of early childhood education and care in England. Policies being developed and promoted by Elizabeth Truss predate her appointment as a minister and are consistent with the radical neo-liberal agenda pursued by Secretary of State Michael Gove. The author draws on news articles and policy announcements and calls into question the misuse and abuse of international comparisons to justify changes to early years policy in England.

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School Direct: a hastily constructed model or a systematically designed campaign? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2013

This article examines School Direct, a model of initial teacher education (ITE) in England, recently introduced by the coalition government and based on a paradigm of teaching as a craft to be learned as an apprenticeship, significantly reducing and in some cases removing the influence of higher education. The history of the move away from university-based ITE to a school-led model is examined and situated within a wider neoliberal agenda. It is argued that School Direct as one manifestation of an ideologically-based strategy for education has serious abiding consequences for the future of the teaching profession and the stability of the educational infrastructure.

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Editorial. Co-operative Education for a New Age? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2013

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Cooperative Problem-Solving and Education (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2013

Debates in education are often polarised by those who want students to be firmly told what they should take on board, and those who insist individuals learn best if they were liberated from all forms of collective arrangement (such as an education authority). Some politicians even fluctuate between the two sets of views without any underlying rationale. However, there is substantial evidence that people actually increase their understanding most effectively when they learn through cooperative problem-solving. This article sets out what is involved in cooperative problem-solving, why it should be adopted more widely and how it can be extended in practice.

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Co-operative Problem-Solving at the Royal Docks Community School (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2013

This article responds to Henry Tam's article in this issue of FORUM by exploring opportunities for co-operative problem-solving for staff and students of the Royal Docks Community School in the London Borough of Newham. Becoming a co-operative trust helped the school move out of special measures and develop a strategy of participation and improvement based upon co-operative values and principles. Co-operative problem solving at the school has focused upon curriculum, student voice, behaviour and the development of student co-operators.

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Restorative Justice Practice: cooperative problem-solving in New Zealand’s schools (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2013

This article links capability for cooperative problem-solving with socially just global development. From the perspective of the United Nations Development Programme, the work of global development, founded on a concept of global justice, is capability-building. Following Kurasawa, the article proposes that this form of global justice is enacted where capability for respectful interaction is built at the level of face-to-face relationships among people in communities; and further, that restorative justice practice has the characteristics required to develop this capability. Using the historical development of restorative practices in New Zealand as an example, it is suggested that restorative practice is a form of cooperative problem-solving which can create citizens for a more just society.

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Why Teach Cooperative Problem-Solving in Adult Education? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2013

This article explores aspects of the theory and practice of cooperative problem solving in education from the perspective of community-based adult learning. It describes how society can benefit from using collaborative and questioning approaches as a positive alternative to more confrontational methods of resolving differences and how collective inquiry is recognised as having sound educational value. Illustrative examples from the Workers' Educational Association show how cooperative problem solving can make a difference to students and their communities.

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Co-operation: the antidote to isolated misery (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2013

This is a case study demonstrating the impact the co-operative movement has had on one co-operative school in south-west England. Lipson Co-operative Academy in Plymouth was one of the first schools to convert to become a co-operative school in 2009. The article has been co-written by members of the Academy and focuses on three transformational aspects of co-operative education: co-operative learning; co-operative professional development; and the Young Co-operative movement. It is set within a frame of democratic schooling recently described by Fielding and Moss and Woods, but draws upon Deming, Cole and Dewey in its original reasoning. In it we establish how it is possible to swim against the tide of neoliberal individualism and competition to grow a successful school built on democratic principles and co-operation. By persevering on this journey we are committed to our mission of developing the conscience of the next generation.

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Making Co-operative Ideas Work (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2013

Reddish Vale Technology College was the first co-operative trust in England. The democratic and co-operative nature of the experiment mean that students have gained a greater voice in the organisation of the school. As a result, new social enterprises, environmental interventions, connections with the community and with the wider co-operative movement have all thrived. The importance of taking action in partnership with learners, staff, parents, partners and community all contribute to the development of a more autonomous and democratic form of education. This example is understood within the context of the Schools Co-operative Society.

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Some ‘get it’ more than others: cultivating a co-operative ethos in uncertain times (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2013

This article seeks to explore the dilemmas that schools and their members encounter whilst striving to establish a co-operative culture within an educational landscape contoured by decades of neo-liberal policy 'reform'. In order to (re)consider the construction of democratic subjectivity within contemporary educational discourse, the author has drawn upon ethnographic research recently undertaken in a number of co-operative schools in the North-West of England. Within the article she considers the subjective impacts of co-operative practices in education on the sense of wellbeing and agency of teachers, parents and children, and reflects upon how various identity positions and power relationships are enacted and interpreted within this educational milieu. The article concludes with a critical consideration of the tensions that arise for schools and their members as they endeavour to reconcile the competing diametric demands of co-operation and competition within this nascent terrain of public education.

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Reasons to Co-operate: co-operative solutions for schools (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2013

The NASUWT's landmark agreement with the Schools Co-operative Society has provided a new spur to co-operation, collaboration and collegiality in schools. Against a background of rapid and radical changes to the education landscape, co-operative schools are viewed by many as a means to maintaining public service ethos and values in education. The article explains why the NASUWT entered into the agreement and describes some of the benefits that it is delivering to teachers and to schools.

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The Wallsend Owenites (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2013

The nineteenth-century British Co-operative Movement included a commitment to education. Although only a minority of consumer co-operative societies offered educational facilities for their members, there was a willingness to experiment among those Co-operators whose grasp of Co-operation extended ideologically beyond remaining content with operating shops. This pioneering strand found its most advanced expression at Wallsend, on Tyneside, where Co-operators founded the Movement's only Co-operative elementary school.

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Co-operative Education and the State, c.1895-1935 (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2013

The co-operative movement is currently exploring ways of engaging with changes in government education policy to develop schools with a distinctive co-operative ethos. While drawing on the opportunities in changing policy, these initiatives can also be seen as offering alternatives to the prevailing tenor of government thinking. This is not the first time that the co-operative movement has negotiated sometimes difficult relationships with state educational policy. From the late nineteenth century, the co-operative movement was a significant provider of education that utilised, tested and challenged the principles and practices of state provision. This article considers two episodes in this relationship. The first revolves around the expansion of state elementary schooling at the end of the nineteenth century, which allowed the co-operative movement to develop other kinds of education. Co-operators, however, were very critical of the 1902 Education Act, which was seen as undermining an important tradition of accessible higher-level education for working people. In the second case, the 1918 Education Act potentially offered a new forum for co-operative education, which required co-operators to re-assess their relationships with state-provided education.

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Co-operatives, Democracy and Education: the Basque ikastolas in the 1960s and 1970s (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2013

This article analyses the process of creation of ikastola schools throughout the Basque Country from the 1960s onwards. These were schools whose major characteristic was to teach the majority of subjects in the Basque language in the adverse context of the final years of Franco's regime. This article deals with the social and political context in which these educational initiatives arose in the 1960s and 1970s. It describes, first, how these schools were created by a strong social movement and how it worked during that period. Secondly, it pays attention to the internal conflicts of these institutions, derived from the strong political mobilisation of the Basque society in the last years of Franco's regime and transition to democracy.

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Caroline DeCamp Benn and the Comprehensive Education Movement (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2013

This article, which accompanies Jane Martin's piece in this issue of FORUM (Volume 55 Number 2 2013, pp. 327-333), is a revised version of a lecture given at the History of education conference held in Winchester, December 1, 2012.

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Caroline DeCamp Benn and the Comprehensive Education Movement: the biographer’s tale (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2013

In educational politics, Caroline Benn (1926-2000) played a leading role in the British comprehensive reform. Wife of one of the most prominent post-war socialists in Britain, the aim is to use Caroline's long campaign alongside teachers, trade unions, parents, progressive academics and activists as a starting point with which to explore a particular period of egalitarian policy making in the United Kingdom. Examining her networks, her mix of causes, her interests and her thinking, the purpose of this article is to do justice to the diversity and achievements of the Comprehensive Education Movement as a whole. History is a crucial safeguard against the dangers of myth-making. The article uses history and biography systematically as a method of building on the past in order to understand the present and move forward into the future, to further the educational causes she championed but in such a way that we are not trapped in a 'back to the past' framework.

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A Better Future for our Schools (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2013

The purpose of 'A Better Future for our Schools' is to contribute to the debate about what a new government after 2015 should seek to achieve. It identifies 10 areas where current policies are clearly inadequate and damaging and identifies a range of actions to address each area. The manifesto is the outcome of debates organised by the Campaign for State Education and the Socialist Educational Association over the last 18 months. The authors are grateful for the contributions that have been made by many people during this process. The proposals are rooted in core values such as democracy, equality and inclusion as well as in the need to maximise the achievement of all our young people. Above all, they are designed to ensure that our schools prepare young people better for life in an increasingly complex and diverse society.

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Landmark Freedom of Information Victory for British Humanist Association (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2013

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BOOK REVIEW (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2013

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Editorial. The Enduring Problem of Fixed Ability: but is a new conversation beginning?, (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2013

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The Brian Simon Memorial Lecture 2012, Education as Reconstruction: another way of looking at primary education (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2013

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‘The Blue Table Means You Don’t Have a Clue’: the persistence of fixed-ability thinking and practices in primary mathematics in English schools (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2013

The use of structured ability grouping is increasing in English primary schools and is regularly seen in primary mathematics classrooms. Ability is a normalised discourse with beliefs that some individuals are 'born to do maths' permeating society and infiltrating school practices. In this article, observation and interview data illustrate the persistence of fixed-ability thinking, even in situations where explicit ability-grouping practices are not used. The data analysis suggests a mismatch between mixed-ability practices and fixed-ability thinking, and the article argues that change will be difficult.

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Surprise in Schools: Martin Buber and dialogic schooling (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2013

The philosopher Martin Buber described the central role of surprise in education. Surprise is not an alternative to planning and order in schools, and it is not even an alternative to repetitive practice. It is, instead, that which must be allowed to occur in any dialogic encounter. Schooling that is creative and filled with hope will also be surprising; schooling that is wholly predetermined, certain, and perfect (at least in its own eyes), will be unsurprising - and also uneducational. Darwinian theories of evolution by natural selection are similar to communitarian anarchist challenges to political wishes for precise, centralised, planning. And the necessity of genetic mutation alongside largely repetitive copying, in such theories, provides a model for the necessity of surprise even alongside repetitive, transmissive, and copied work in schools. Surprise overcomes the potential of schools to be soulless institutions. It is promoted here as a defining characteristic of truly educational, dialogic schooling.

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Beyond ‘Ability’: some European alternatives (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2013

This article draws on European approaches to differentiation that do not entail fatalistic determinism. It describes two challenging initiatives in Denmark, where democratic learning and learning for democracy are enshrined in law. Other examples come from Germany, from the Bielefeld laboratory school and a sixth form college, where planning for diversity is the starting point for curriculum development.

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The Possibilities and Difficulties of Teaching Secondary Mathematics in All-attainment Groups (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2013

It is a well-established norm in England that secondary school mathematics is taught in groups categorised by prior attainment. It is therefore worthwhile to report alternative practices of all-attainment teaching - but these are rare. In this article, we report aspects of all-attainment mathematics teaching in a secondary school that has maintained this practice as its norm over a considerable time, including in recent years, when a hierarchical approach to measuring mathematics learning has become the norm for accountability purposes. The teaching described here takes account of the needs and progress of different students within a common curriculum focus, and we identify key principles behind it. The article is intended to contribute to a record of all-attainment grouping practices in mathematics in England, so that these practices are not lost.

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Teaching and the Individuality of Everybody (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2013

This article presents a study in which the author researched her own practice as the teacher of a reception class in a large primary school in England. The research focussed on the challenge of articulating what was tacitly or intuitively known: how, and why, the myriad of choices and decisions of which teaching is constituted could be made and justified. The author considers the significance of the class as a community; the relationship between everybody and children as individuals. A consistent and coherent principled stance was identified, articulated in terms of attention to imagination. The article discusses the significance of this as the means by which the individuality of everybody could be perceived.

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Preparing Teachers to Work with Everybody: a curricular approach to the reform of teacher education (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2013

This article reports on a curricular approach to teacher education using the ideas in Learning without Limits to prepare teachers to enter a profession in which they take responsibility for the learning and achievement of all learners. Key aspects of Scotland's Inclusive Practice Project (IPP) are described and the role of university-based teacher education in supporting and challenging practice-based learning in schools is discussed.

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What Makes an Inclusive Teacher? Can Fish Climb Trees? Mapping the European Agency Profile of Inclusive Teachers to the English System (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2013

This article examines whether or not teachers working in an inherently exclusive education system can in fact be 'inclusive teachers'. The author draws on work done over the past three years in a pan-European Teacher Education project highly committed to notions of social and educational cohesion and equity, and challenges both fixed and hierarchical notions of ability, valuing all learners equally. The development of a pan-European Profile of Inclusive Teachers serves as an indirect challenge to the legitimacy of politicians and executive bodies in England for lack of cohesion and failing to establish some kind of equity and inclusion for young people.

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Differentiation, Resistance and Courage: at work in the infant school (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2013

Annabelle Dixon was co-editor of FORUM from the summer of 1998 until her untimely death in May 2005. The article we reproduce below is based on an article that first appeared in FORUM in 1984, Volume 26, Number 2, with the title 'Divided We Rule'. At that time, she was a practising infant teacher, and deeply concerned about the ways in which the widespread practice of differentiation affected young children's learning. The version printed here has been extended, edited and retitled, drawing on a longer, later version, unpublished as far as we know, which she circulated to friends and colleagues in 1986.

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An Alternative Approach to School Development: the children are the evidence (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2013

In this article, the authors describe the alternative approach to school development taken by the head teacher and staff of a primary school in Hertfordshire. Their approach is based on a resolutely optimistic and anti-determinist view of every child's capacity to learn, and their commitment to working as a school-wide community of learners. The article illustrates how the culture, policies and structures of the whole school were harnessed to the process of transformative change, and shows how staff members were given the support that enabled them to play their full part in bringing about these changes. It demonstrates how, when people are learning together, the power of the collective strengthens the learning capacity of everybody.

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From Defective Loafers to Ignorant Yobs: low attainers in a global knowledge economy (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2013

In a global and increasingly 'knowledge-driven' economy where even semi-skilled jobs require qualifications, what may be done with and for young people whose attainment in school is low? This article draws on recent research with head teachers, college principals and administrators in English local authorities, combined with material gathered on visits to a number of foreign countries, to outline the issues. It illuminates that successive English governments have failed to provide a coherent system of vocational education.

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Ability and Mathematics: the mindset revolution that is reshaping education (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2013

Recent scientific evidence demonstrates both the incredible potential of the brain to grow and change and the powerful impact of growth mindset messages upon students' attainment. Schooling practices, however, particularly in England, are based upon notions of fixed ability thinking which limits students' attainment and increases inequality. This article reviews evidence for brain plasticity, the importance of mindset and the ways that mindset messages may be communicated through classroom and grouping practices.

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‘Can I have me on here?’: ‘ability’ and the language of pupil-progress (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2013

The flip-side of teaching-as-delivery is assessment-as-ventriloquism. Required to describe pupils and their progress through the language of Level Descriptors and exam grade criteria, any teacher risks losing her voice. This article notes the hierarchising and normalising intention of currently authorised versions of assessment, and looks for a countervailing practice and language.

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Valuing Choice as an Alternative to Fixed-ability Thinking and Teaching in Primary Mathematics (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2013

This article offers a personal account of a primary mathematics teacher's current practice and how it developed through participation in a professional development programme. This alternative to fixed-ability teaching is based on creating opportunities for learners to exercise choice and on an understanding of mathematics as connected. Key influences in the development of practice have been research evidence and theory, engagement with mathematics and alternative practices as a learner, and space and encouragement to reflect and make choices as a teacher. The account is structured in the form of a dialogue between the authors.

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BOOK REVIEWS (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2013

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Editorial (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2012

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Readiness, Partnership, a Meeting Place? Some Thoughts on the Possible Relationship between Early Childhood and Compulsory School Education (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2012

At a time when the relationship between early childhood and compulsory school education is high on the policy agenda, this article questions the dominant, often taken-for-granted, relationship - school readiness; and offers two alternatives, a strong and equal partnership and the vision of a meeting place. Both are potentially transformative, inviting and welcoming critical thinking about compulsory school education as well as early childhood education.

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Neither National Nor a Curriculum? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2012

This article examines the government's view, as revealed in its June 2012 National Curriculum proposals, of the purposes and character of the primary curriculum as a whole. The proposals are found to be deficient in a number of respects: in their naive, selective and inflated use of international evidence; in their treatment of aims as no more than cosmetic; in their impoverished take on culture, knowledge and values; in their reduction of educational standards to test performance in the 3Rs; in their perpetuation of the damaging Victorian legacy of a two-tier curriculum; and in their characterisation of spoken language, despite what has long been known about its vital role in development, learning and teaching, as little more than 'idle chatter'. In sum, the proposals are judged to betray contempt for other than politically-compliant evidence and to fall seriously short of what a national curriculum minimally entails.

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Omnishambles: reactions to the second year of Coalition education policies (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2012

The UK's Coalition Government completed its second year in office in May 2012. Many of its policies and pronouncements have been divisive and are contributing to the dismantling of the state education system as we have known it. Here, reflecting George Orwell's observation that 'Every joke against the established order is a tiny revolution', Colin Richards, a strong supporter of locally-maintained comprehensive education, subjects them to both criticism and ridicule through a self-edited selection of his published and unpublished letters to national newspapers - his third epistolary critique and one that covers the period May 2011 to April 2012.

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Teachers’ Professional Autonomy in England: are neo-liberal approaches incontestable? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2012

This article is informed by a longitudinal research project undertaken with 22 teachers, four head teachers and two other related education professionals in England between May 2010 and April 2011. Drawing on 50 semi-structured interviews and some related email correspondence, the project investigates this cohort's view of teachers' professional autonomy. It takes as its starting point the hegemony of neo-liberal policy and the adoption and reinforcement of this by UK political parties of all persuasions. The outcomes of the project demonstrate that notwithstanding the thrust of such policy - manifested most obviously by the current conversion of increasing numbers of schools to semi-privatised academy status - teachers acknowledge, explicitly or otherwise, the prevalence of performativity and survivalism yet often retain loyalty to the concept of education as a liberal humanist project as opposed to that of a provider of human capital. In short, they manage to cling to a notion of teaching that transcends the demands of the pursuit of measurable standards. They also recognize the central paradox of the current policy ensemble embodied in the inconsistency of rhetoric from government about professional autonomy alongside strong central control and scrutiny. The article goes on to ask whether, given the expressed antipathy on the part of this government and its predecessors towards research informed policy in general, and to qualitative research in particular, it is possible that such voices will be heeded by power. There are clear implications here for teacher education at initial and post-qualification level.

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Towards Whole System Improvement (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2012

The relationship between academies, and school autonomy more generally, and the wider system is a crucial issue in the battle to improve school-level education. International experience indicates that emphasising choice and competition to drive improvement is not effective and that changing structures does not yield better results for students. A whole system approach is required based on a strong and democratic multi-level infrastructure of support and a common administrative and legal framework underpinned by the principles of public not contract law.

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The Political Economies of Radical Education (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2012

The aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 has created space for discussion for alternative arrangements of economy and society. In education terms, there has been a flowering of texts which propose radical changes in educational systems. This article briefly discusses three examples (Fielding & Moss, Radical Education and the Common School; Facer, Learning Futures; and Woods, Transforming Education Policy). Based on a reading of Dale's (1979) discussion of how 1960s and 1970s 'progressive education' were limited by wider political economic structures, the article suggests that, at the present time, the 'new spirit of capitalism' allows for and even welcomes particular forms of progressive and even 'radical' change, based on ideas around participation, innovation, and flexibility. The article concludes with a set of questions to ask of schools which seek to engage in 'really radical practice'.

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Grammar Schools: brief flowering of social mobility? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2012

Grammar schools are increasingly remembered, especially by right-wing ideologues, as the agents of a 'brief flowering' of post-war social mobility. This article presents statistical, documentary and interview evidence of secondary education in the eleven plus era, and finds nothing to justify the claim that selective schools produced a general improvement in educational opportunity or social mobility. Detailed life history interviews with Don (b. 1941, secondary modern, then secondary technical) and Margaret (b. 1951, grammar) recreate the almost forgotten 1950s world where opportunity was rationed and bright children were complacently failed. Access to post-16 and university education became widely available only when governments adopted a very much more generous funding regime, and comprehensive schools removed the complex barriers to success created by selection. Nostalgic accounts of grammar schools are a classic case of recovered false memory syndrome.

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London’s Jewish Communities and State Education (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2012

The Inner London education authority was a notable example of a radical and powerful local government body from which the fight for the comprehensive principle in English secondary education emerged. Building on previous work of women's contribution to state education in London, this articles focuses on Anglo-Jewish educator activists who helped shape the capital's response to the policy question of how to provide secondary education for all. The author's subjects are Henrietta (Nettie) Adler (1868-1950), siblings Helen Bentwich [née Franklin] (1892-1972) and Hugh Franklin (1889-1962) and Harold Rosen (1919-2008).

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The Decorated School: past potency and present patronage (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2012

The Decorated School is an interdisciplinary research network funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The article situates current academic and wider community engagement concerning the purpose and significance of art as part of the school building and grounds in an historical context. It goes on to discuss emerging patterns of concealment and exposure of school murals in the past and their recovery in the present. Finally, it is suggested that contemporary interest and revaluing such art is welcome but that belief in the educational power of art as part of the built environment has nevertheless waned.

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Creating Learning Without Limits (Mandy Swann, Alison Peacock, Susan Hart & Mary Jane Drummond) (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2012

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BOOK REVIEWS (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2012

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Editorial (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2012

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Governing Education: remaking the long revolution (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2012

Behind the thin veil of the Conservative regime's rationale of deficit reduction hides the final demolition of public comprehensive education and Raymond Williams's more expansive long revolution unfolding over a century of creating a democratic state that affords opportunity, voice and justice for all. Restoring the politics of a pre-war or Edwardian era, opportunity is now being rationed and education returned to its tradition of social selection and class subordination. Autocratic power is being constructed at the expense of 'inefficient' democratic spaces that voice appeal and deliberate policy in relation to need. Yet democracy is not the problem but the solution to the collective action dilemmas facing civil society. The potential of comprehensive learning communities to develop democratic collective agency is proposed.

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Power, Democracy – and Democracy in Education (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2012

This article addresses questions of workplace democracy, particularly in relation to school education. Following Luciano Canfora in treating democracy as 'the rule of the many', it traces the post-1945 rise of workplace democracy, and its post-1979 decline. Analysing the constitution of contemporary schooling in England, the article concludes that it has been de-democratised. It suggests, however, that in the increasingly difficult situation in which the neo-liberal project of education finds itself, the efficacy and legitimacy of this system of governance will be increasingly questioned.

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Half Way to Hell: what Gove is doing to England’s schools (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2012

In this article the author summarises the events of the past five months and assesses the damage being done by the Tory/LibDem coalition government to our schools, to the teachers who work in them, and to the education they provide.

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The Myth of School Autonomy: centralisation as the determinant of English educational politics (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2012

Following his previous article in this journal on the centralisation of power in English education post the 1988 Education Reform Act ('The Era of Centralisation', FORUM, 50[2], pp. 255-261), the author considers the apparent turn to school autonomy central to the Conservative Educational Revolution. He argues that the power shift to the centre is accelerated by the Revolution, which is destroying democratically elected local authority provision and enhancing the power of the Secretary of State to arbitrary levels. The rhetoric of the all powerful head teacher in control of the school is contradicted by centrally determined priorities, notably EBac, and the power of the media to represent the school to its community by performance tables. This continues the attempt to manipulate schools which New Labour attempted by its Diploma programme, but in the context of a narrow 1950s grammar school curriculum. The autonomy given to schools is essentially operational, notably over admissions and curriculum, but is constrained by league tables and government control of finance and service delivery contracts.

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Ofsted Inspection Inspected: an examination of the 2012 framework for school inspection and its accompanying evaluation schedule (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2012

Ofsted has always courted controversy. With the appointment of a strident new chief inspector its operations are likely to remain, or become increasingly, controversial. This article provides a detailed critique of key documents which describe the new inspection regime that for good or ill will have major consequences in schools. Although in certain limited aspects they represent an improvement on the previous inspection regime, the new requirements have many highly problematic elements which undermine the integrity and validity of inspection judgements. The article argues that schools in disadvantaged areas are likely to suffer most from some of the deficiencies highlighted.

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Does Gove Really Want to Set Us Free? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2012

This article argues that one of the central paradoxes of neo-liberalism is currently being played out in the UK Coalition Government's education policy. Rhetoric that talks of freedoms to be enjoyed by schools and teachers is at variance with a centrally imposed, reductive view of the curriculum, continuing high-stakes scrutiny and the forcing of schools towards academy status. The coalition's hastily constructed legislation reveals a view of education that bears the hallmark of pragmatic marketisation with such limited freedoms as may be enjoyed existing in the context of reward for the compliant and acquiescent. The article concludes with a brief - and necessary - consideration of possibilities for resistance.

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The Stone Age Didn’t End Because They Ran out of Stone: why our children can’t wait much longer for a functional school system (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2012

This article explores the reasons why transformation of the school system is urgently needed. It is suggested that the system will implode as a result of a growing dislocation between what schools need to achieve and the inadequate, if not damaging, practices forcefully promoted by increasing numbers of school leaders and politicians. Alternatively, a culture of schooling in which there is much less directed management of students' learning behaviours and far more challenge, and therefore growth, is advocated. Let us start with the child, not with the school.

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Re-energising Subject Knowledge (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2012

The value of knowledge and the role of subjects in the school curriculum have been widely questioned in recent years, often portrayed as old-fashioned and irrelevant, especially in the face of a fast-changing global economy. This article argues that this is both limited in its view of the potential of knowledge and subjects, and limiting for those pupils denied access to disciplined knowledge, especially in particular schools and subjects. It proposes that the acquisition of knowledge through subjects remains central to pupils' entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum, and to their ability to participate actively in our society, economy and democracy. It suggests the need for a more informed (and disciplined) policy debate founded in a balanced view of the purposes of education.

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Towards a New ABC of Curriculum-making: a reply to John Hopkin (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2012

This is a reply to John Hopkin's article in this number of FORUM on 'Re-energising subject knowledge' (Volume 54, Number 2, 2012). It argues that Hopkin does not provide sufficiently cogent reasons for continuing the tradition of a subject-based curriculum. It favours starting from defensible general aims of school education and seeing what these require in the shape of more specific aims. How far the result coincides with or diverges from a subject-based curriculum cannot be prejudged. This article also questions Hopkin's almost exclusive emphasis on knowledge aims and provides a historical perspective on this way of thinking about education and on its shortfalls.

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The Birth of New Labour and the Death of Comprehensive Education (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2012

It is argued that the creation of something called 'New Labour' in the mid-1990s marked the death of the comprehensive school in England - or, rather, the end of any attempt to create a nationwide system of comprehensive schools. The election of Tony Blair as Labour Party Leader in July 1994 can be viewed as THE defining year in post-war Labour history, in that it marked the point when Labour effectively turned its back on its social democratic agenda, which had included a commitment to the comprehensive reform. It can be argued that there had been a good deal of confusion throughout the twentieth century as to the exact meaning of the concept of 'secondary education for all' and that the Labour Party Establishment had never been unanimous in its endorsement of comprehensive education - so that, in repudiating the comprehensive ideal, Tony Blair was actually pushing at an open door. Nevertheless, when criticising the Coalition Government for its reactionary education policies, we must always remember that the Governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were involved in the creation of a bewildering array of new types of secondary school, which left the system more divided and fragmented than it had ever been.

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Mr Gove’s Road to Privatisation: forcing primary schools to become Academies (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2012

Not content with the response to his offer to outstanding schools to become academies, Michael Gove's next move has been to force schools to become academies. Resistance from parents and the local community has made no difference. This article explains what happened in Haringey and how undemocratic the whole process has been.

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Co-operative Schools: a democratic alternative (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2012

Many fear that the pressures of running an Academy will be too great for individual schools, and that they will be forced to join chains run by private companies. These may offer hard-pressed school administrators valuable management expertise and back-office support, but seem to offer wider society little accountability and transparency. Are private Academy chains the best option, where Academy schools have been cut adrift from the support and democratic legitimacy of local authority governance? The authors argue that a democratic alternative must be found.

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Co-operative Schools: building communities in the 21st century (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2012

The recent progress of 'co-operative schools' both confirms and disrupts many assumptions surrounding contemporary compulsory schooling. The term itself refers to an eclectic array of schools, both primary and secondary, of which there were, by June 2012, almost 300 in England that have adopted co-operative values, in terms of governance, pedagogy and curriculum, and come together as a movement. They have emerged from within a fissiparous ecology of education which has given rise to new schools and networks, including academy schools, converter academies, free schools, trust schools and specialised schools. In this article the author argues that these changes have all offered opportunities for co-operative alternatives to be established.

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Can We Believe the International League Tables? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2012

This article, updated and expanded from one written for The Times Educational Supplement, 10 December 2010, asks whether politicians are right to quote the country's performance in international tests in support of such policies as re-introducing O levels. It finds reasons to doubt that the tests give an adequate picture of children's learning, in comparison with either older cohorts or overseas peers. Nor do they provide a fair measure of schools' success or the validity of examination qualifications.

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Editorial. What is the Way Forward? (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2012

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Caught in the (Education) Act: tackling Michael Gove’s education revolution. Report on 19th November 2011 Conference (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2012

A number of significant campaigning organisations and education trades unions - the Anti-Academies Alliance, CASE, Comprehensive Future, Forum, ISCG and the Socialist Educational Association, along with ASCL, ATL, NASUWT and NUT - staged a conference in London on 19 November 2011, with the title 'Caught in the (Education) Act: tackling Michael Gove's education revolution'. This is an edited version of the Report of that conference.

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A Divided Education System (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2012

This is a slightly amended version of the talk with which Clyde Chitty opened the 'Caught in the Act' Conference on 19 November 2011.

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Putting the Alternative Case: a twenty-first-century vision for England’s schools (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2012

This is an amended version of a talk given by Melissa Benn to the 'Caught in the Act' Conference on 19 November 2011.

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Show Me the Money! Neoliberalism at Work in Education (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2012

Neoliberalism is often addressed by commentators and critics as a set of ideas or a doctrine. This article considers neoliberalism as a set of financial practices and exchanges - as about money and profit - and goes on to suggest that as practitioners, researchers, activists we need to understand and engage with that logic and its mechanisms. Examples are given of the role of money in all aspects of education policy and education reform.

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Gove’s Offensive and the Failure of Labour’s Response (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2012

In this article the author examines the response of the Labour leadership to the Conservative-led Government's policies for restructuring and re-agenting the school system. His focus is on the role of local authorities and local democracy. He identifies two contradictory dynamics in Labour's current thinking. One promises to enhance local democracy and community empowerment. The other, dominant, accepts the new landscape of academies and free schools and advocates new powers for local school commissioners and elected mayors in the school system. Neither, however, offer a vision of enhanced local democratic accountability through the reinvigoration of local authorities.

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Do We Need a Middle Tier in Education? (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2012

The direction of the UK Government's policy is to remove schools from local authority control, and replace that relationship with private sponsors, undermining their ability, or indeed inclination, to deliver on the 'Every Child Matters' agenda, among many others. The author argues that local authorities have much to give and where they have focused on building effective partnerships, communities of schools can be effective in accepting a much wider range of local responsibilities, from standards to special educational needs. This could be achieved through an enhanced duty to cooperate placed on schools by central government and this should form the basis of any future reform to ensure local schools are once again placed under the control of the communities they serve.

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Comprehensive Schools and the Future (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2012

This article argues that comprehensive reorganisation was not a one-off policy reform but a complex, bottom-up campaign for equity and fairness in education, with varied consequences and outcomes. Recent battles over student fees, free schools and academies show that the quest for democratic education does not lead to a permanent achievement but to perpetual struggle with privileged groups who feel themselves threatened by social justice.

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Decline and Fall: are state schools and universities on the point of collapse? (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2012

This contribution is an edited version of the 'Alumni Lecture' organised by the Department of Education of the University of Oxford at Lady Margaret Hall on 15th September 2011. The article reviews the drift towards the centralisation of power in the way the schooling system is run, the conflict between a desire for equity in education and the promotion of the influence of market forces. It reviews standards of outcome in schools over time with a brief look at similar tensions in the influences on universities and ends with a call for a review of the distribution of powers among central government, local government and the schools.

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Streaming and Setting in UK Primary Schools: evidence from the Millennium Cohort Study (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2012

This article provides a brief historical perspective on structured ability grouping, a summary of recent research on streaming and setting amongst seven-year-olds from the Millennium Cohort Study, and considers some of the implications of what appears to be an increase in structured ability grouping in the primary school.

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The Labour Party and the Need for Change: values, education and emotional literacy/intelligence (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2012

The author argues that when the Labour Party has analysed its values emotional development has been neglected. He shows the importance of emotional literacy and uses education as a vehicle to show how Labour when in power reinforced right-wing ideology. Ways of changing education policy are indicated. It is hoped that this article will promote a lively discussion.

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Privatisation in Education: further reflections (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2012

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Margaret Miles: the educational journey of a comprehensive school campaigner (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2012

As a former comprehensive school pupil herself, the author wanted to know more about the women who had pioneered comprehensive schools in England. Therefore, she chose the headmistress and comprehensive school campaigner Dame Margaret Miles (1911-1994) as the subject of a dissertation for her History of Education MA at the Institute of Education, University of London. This article attempts to rebuild the story of Margaret Miles' networks of influence from 1911-1955 and explains how she gathered ideas that she hoped to transplant into the comprehensive school system after 1955. The author then move on to examine how seeds of doubt about Miles' particular vision and comprehensive education in general were introduced to a nervous public in documentary film between 1955 and 1963.

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Secondary Modern School Education: an essay in subjugation and repression (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2012

This article reflects on the inequity of secondary modern school education. In doing so it draws heavily on the experience of the author while highlighting inputs from others who failed the 11+ examination and were banished to such schools. The article argues that selection undermines the self-esteem of secondary modern school pupils and places them at a life-long disadvantage relative to successful candidates of selection. He discusses some of his experiences in greater detail in his 2002 autobiography Foreday Morning.

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The Evidence Base on the Effects of Policy and Practice in Faith Schools (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2012

This article analyses some of the common assertions made in the public debate about the merits and disadvantages of faith schools and tests them against actual research findings. It argues that there is a growing body of evidence showing that current policy and practice in faith schools creates social division and that faith schools need to do more to respect the rights and beliefs of staff, pupils and their families.

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The Intersection of Community, Culture and Learning Processes within the Setting of a Chinese Complementary School (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2012

This article is based on a research assignment submitted for the PGCE Course at Goldsmiths College, University of London. It looks at a Chinese community school and considers the experiences of participating families and explores how the ethos and purpose of the school relate to the practices, activities and representations that occur within its communal space. Since writing this article the school has successfully relocated to new premises at another East London secondary school.

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BOOK REVIEWS (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2012

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Editorial The Death of Local Democracy? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2011

The system of policy making that was established as an integral part of the 1945 post-war educational settlement has often been described as 'a national system, locally administered'. Being a source of much pride at the time, it involved the continuing operation of a benign partnership between central government, local government and individual schools and colleges.

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Markets are for Commodities, Not Children (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2011

Recent governments have transformed the English education system from an arrangement of local, democratically managed, groups of schools into a market free-for-all in which individual schools compete for pupils, status and resources. Elements of a market exist in the relationship between parents and private schools but much market behaviour is inimical to a fair education system. Successive governments' clumsy attempts 'to fix the market' in favour of the schools they have created has led to stressed parents, over-tested pupils and a deeply fractured system. Two simple changes could improve the system: ensuring schools receive balanced intakes of pupils (with all receiving fair shares of those who find learning easy and difficult); and spreading high quality teachers between schools. Ways to achieve these changes are proposed.

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Europe: education remade (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2011

Educational reform in Western Europe continues to be accompanied by high levels of contestation and conflict. The article discusses the terms of current conflicts in France and Italy, exploring the main lines of government programmes, and also the kinds of opposition they have encountered.

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I Can’t Believe What is Happening to the English Education System (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2011

The author, a former headteacher and now a county councillor, argues that the structural changes to the education system put in place in the first weeks of the new government in the summer of 2010 will exacerbate the gap between the highest and lowest achieving schools, will destabilise the state-funded education system, will expose it to marketisation and partial privatisation and will diminish local democratic accountability. It is a policy which is divisive, unfair and costly, driven by a narrow-minded ideology which pays little attention to evidence and professional experience.

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Our Schools are Being Privatised (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2011

The threat of the National Health Service being privatised has led to such strong opposition that the Government has been forced to backtrack; and yet, through the development of 'Academies' and 'Free Schools', our education system is being stealthily privatised, right under our noses, without so much as a word from politicians or journalists who claim to believe in social democracy. Why is this?

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A New Direction for Schools and Labour (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2011

The authors argue that it is time to get radical about the Left's vision for education and develop a direction that communities can really own. The Labour Party being out of government for the first time in 13 years gives us a chance to consider what education means to the Left, and allows us to be innovative in how the Party can approach education both now and in anticipation of an eventual return to government. The authors consider the interaction between policy and citizen action in education, highlighting the importance of both and their complementary nature. It is argued, following some of the values and reasoning of the 'Blue Labour' dialogue, that for schools to be both truly free and effective they need to be governed by alliances of parents and teachers and not by the state or the market. This requires a shift of trust on the part of the Left, and in particular a willingness to accept pluralism and diversity in education contra both the centralised prescriptions and target setting of the New Labour Government and its moves towards marketisation with the 'choice' agenda. In particular, against the consumerist approach to education, they envisage an onus on parental agency beyond selecting the school - on being trusted to work continuously in collaboration with other school stakeholders and inculcating a sense of citizenship in children in order that they should do the same.

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Academy Conversion: a view from the governing body (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2011

The case for conversion to academy status is being made in a number of arenas, not least on the Department for Education website. As a matter of balance, school governors considering conversion need to take into account a range of factors. How does this fundamental shift in the ownership of schools fit into a discernible historical pattern?

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From Hollowed-Out Council to Educative Commune: imagining local authorities in a democratic public education (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2011

This article argues the case for local authorities having an important role in a renewed democratic public education, adopting the term 'educative commune' to express an image of the local authority as a protagonist working with others to build a local educational project. It concludes by considering what conditions may benefit this development.

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Rights-Based Education: towards a local democratic project (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2011

This article offers a dialogic engagement with Fielding & Moss's Radical Education and the Common School (2011). First, the author puts forward a critical and reflective narrative on the process in the London Borough of Waltham Forest to create a strategic children and young people plan, which she cautiously proposes is an attempt to define a local democratic project - rights-based education. She then goes on to explore whether a local authority and a community or 'commonwealth' of schools can act together - possibly in radical collegiality - to further democratic education locally.

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Rejuvenating Democracy: lessons from a communitarian experiment (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2011

Democracy has been weakened in the United Kingdom with citizens increasingly frustrated at not being able to shape government decisions in any meaningful way. State actions at the local and national level are at risk of becoming even more influenced by vested private interests. This poses a major challenge to the democratic health of the country. However, something can be done to strengthen collaboration between state and citizens. This article recounts a large scale communitarian experiment conducted by the author as a senior public official in local and central government between 1995 and 2010, with the aim of empowering communities to become real partners in public policy making. It draws out five key lessons to be learnt from the experiment for anyone concerned with rejuvenating democracy in the UK.

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Moving in Darkness: back to the future at Crown Woods College (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2011

At the end of July 2011 The Guardian reported on the recently opened Crown Woods College in Eltham, South-East London. The College had been rebuilt on the site of the previous Crown Woods School with £50 million of funding via the Building Schools for the Future project. Its nine buildings include four 'mini-schools', one of which is a sixth form, alongside a state-of-the-art gym, a building for children with moderate learning difficulties, special educational needs (SEN) or visual impairment, and a technology and design centre. Media interest was aroused by the way the College had extended its previous policy of streaming students by 'ability'. Each mini-school (leaving aside the sixth form) operates separately from the others and is populated by students deemed to be only of a particular 'ability'. Since each mini-school has its own uniform, Crown Woods College students are effectively identified in public by 'ability', with mini-school populations prevented from mixing. The Guardian's headline was: 'School Colour-Codes Pupils by Ability'. The Guardian's report, which generated some 250 comments, was picked up by other newspapers. Elements of the original were reproduced on blog sites and Internet-discussion forums. In an article also published by The Guardian, FORUM board member Melissa Benn took up some of the issues raised by the public funding of a segregated state school. We reproduce that article, along with a piece by fellow board member Patrick Yarker, who taught English at Crown Woods school.

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A Case Study in School Improvement (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2011

In October 2010 Perry Beeches school, an 11-16 Local Authority controlled community comprehensive in Birmingham, was widely featured in the national media as the 'most improved school in the UK' - Ever. Some of the ways in which this was achieved are explored. Whether the changes undergone by this school reflect a pattern that has become more deeply rooted in the English education system is investigated. The research is based on data sets relating to Perry Beeches school obtained by means of the Freedom of Information Act and also on 2010 national school improvement data and the subject-by-subject results of improved schools released by the Department for Education. The 2010 examination results are analysed in detail and patterns are revealed that appear to be linked to league table driven factors. The grade distribution in GCSE maths is given special consideration, together with the role and quality of pre-16 vocational courses. The consequences of the special status of the C grade at GCSE are discussed. The recruitment of the 2010 ex-Perry Beeches pupils onto AS/A level courses was obtained and is considered in terms of enabling progression to higher education. The Perry Beeches curriculum and examination results are placed into the national context by cross referencing the DfE's 'most improved' schools data with school performance in the English Baccalaureate, leading to the conclusion that the most improved schools in league table terms appear to be providing the most limited curriculum judged from a number of educational viewpoints including that of facilitating progression to top universities.

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What Could Be – for contemporary policy and practice: challenges posed by the work of Edmond Holmes (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2011

In a previous issue of FORUM (Volume 52[3], 2010) Colin Richards attempted to apply Edmond Holmes's critique of 1911 to contemporary policy and practice. In this article he discusses the many positive challenges Holmes's work offers a hundred years on.

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The Special Educational Needs Green Paper: a lost opportunity? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2011

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Students’ Views on the Riots (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2011

Reflecting two students views on this summers riots, Tom Young locates the riots as a symptom of 20th century consumerism. Tracing the historical development of public relations and advertising with the rise of one of the 20th century's least known and most influential figures 'Eddy Bernays', he asks the question - who's really to blame for the riots? Following this, Kate Stevenson puts herself at the heart of the debate and looks at how we locate ourselves within the traditional perspectives of political Left and Right.

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BOOK REVIEWS (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2011

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Editorial. Campaigning for State Education (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2011

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Coalition Education Policy: Thatcherism’s long shadow (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2011

Coalition education policy threatens to transform the school system in England. A combination of public spending cuts, and the drive to making all schools Academies, represents a key moment in the restructuring of the education service along neo-liberal lines. This article argues that there is nothing distinctively 'new' about Coalition schools policy, but rather it represents a realisation of the '1988 project' to break up and privatise state education in England. What took a major step forward in the form of the 1988 Education Reform Act is now reaching its logical conclusion in Coalition policy. This article identifies how such policy threatens to finally secure the dismantling of a democratic system by replacing it with a state-subsidised free market. The article also sets out the possibilities for a 'coalition of resistance' to emerge, capable of interrupting this latest and decisive stage in neo-liberal reform.

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Education for the Good Society (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2011

The Left is facing a crisis of its approach to education highlighted by the 'education revolution' of the Coalition Government. The authors argue that it is important to step back and present a positive vision of education based on the key pillars of the Good Society - fairness, democracy, sustainability and well-being. This values-led agenda, whilst offering an opportunity to take the moral and philosophical high ground, will also present a number of difficult strategic questions.

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The Role of Parents and Governors (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2011

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The Struggle for Democracy in the Local School System (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2011

The Coalition Government, building on the foundations laid by its Labour predecessor, aims to dismantle the local authority system and with it what remains of the accountability of schools to local elected government. In this article, a response to Stewart Ranson's in a recent issue of FORUM, the author examines his claims for the emergence of new forms of participative governance and suggests an alternative approach to taking forward the democratisation of governance in local school systems at neighbourhood and local authority levels in the context of conflicting class interests.

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Knowing Your Mind: teachers, students and the language of ability (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2011

This article considers how pervasive remains the idea of fixed innate ability in relation to state education, and criticises on ethical and other grounds the language of ability as currently heard.

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Differing Views of Human Intelligence (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2011

This article is based on a talk that was given by the author at the Institute of Historical Research on 3 February 2011, on the Victorian polymath Francis Galton and the malign legacy of his eugenic theories. It pays tribute to the pioneering work of the late Brian Simon in challenging the whole idea of 'fixed innate intelligence' and in furthermore insisting that a belief in 'human educability' should be at the heart of the campaign for comprehensive education.

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Incompetence or Deliberate Manipulation? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2011

The author gives a personal account of campaigning on fair admissions and the importance of Admission Forums and some of the responses it has generated along with the ConDem Coalition response - or lack of it.

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Social and Political Education in British Schools: 50 years of curriculum development (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2011

The main developments in this broad curriculum area are traced decade by decade with key signpost successes highlighted, along with examples of retrenchment and opposition to the march of progress. The drivers for change and regression were often central government initiatives but, all along, the activity of progressive educationists/academics and teachers in comprehensive schools and their lobbying through professional subject organisations occupied a key role. The possible turning back of the clock under the Coalition's Review of the National Curriculum signals yet another downturn in the fortunes of social and political education.

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Enquiring Minds: a radical curriculum project? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2011

This article focuses on Enquiring Minds, a three-year curriculum development project funded by Microsoft as part of its Partners in Learning programme and run by Futurelab. The article suggests that the project is best understood as an example of a new type of 'curriculum entrepreneurialism' that is impatient with the traditional structures of curriculum and pedagogy and which seeks to pave the way for 'radical' transformation of education systems. The article locates this curriculum innovation in three broad contexts of educational cultures in Britain. These concern the question of the relationship between formal and informal cultures of learning, the relationship between knowledge, social class and curriculum, and the emergence of ideas about the economic value of schooling and the role of technology in young people's lives. These 'cultures of schooling' invariably affect any attempt to introduce radical change. Finally, the article poses the question of what is 'radical' about projects such as Enquiring Minds, and suggests that they might best be interpreted as moves to realign the practices of schooling with the requirements of a mobile and global capitalism.

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Learning Futures: rebuilding curriculum and pedagogy around student engagement (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2011

The author discusses the Learning Futures programme, a partnership set up between the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Innovation Unit. The two organisations had previously worked together on the Musical Futures project that had involved radical new approaches to teaching and learning in secondary school music.

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RSA Opening Minds: a curriculum for the 21st century (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2011

This article discusses the RSA Opening Minds competence framework, an innovative curriculum to meet the needs of young people as future employees, lifelong learners and as citizens of the twenty-first century.

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Decentralisation for Schools, but Not for Knowledge: the RSA Area Based Curriculum and the limits of localism in Coalition education policy (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2011

Use of local environments and stakeholders to illuminate the school curriculum, and increase ownership of it, has been demonstrated by international research as an effective means by which to make the curriculum more relevant and engaging to students. Localism is a key tenet of the Government's policy platform, and in education policy the extension of structural freedoms for schools has been a key priority. However, a parallel process of democratisation of knowledge is unlikely to follow. The inadequacy of government thinking about the nature of knowledge, and weaknesses in the system that will not be addressed by current policy, mean that schools are unlikely to be in a position to take full advantage of their new freedoms with regard to curriculum. The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce's (RSA's) Area Based Curriculum is contributing to the debate and practice about how localism might apply to knowledge. The author argues that in a world where local, national and global knowledges are increasingly in conflict, localism must extend to knowledge as well as to the structures of schooling. Curriculum developed in partnership between students, local communities and teachers would better equip students to navigate ideas of what is important and what it is important to know.

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Music Education under Threat (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2011

Leicester-Shire Arts in Education has long had both a national and international reputation for providing high-quality music education to young people. Last year, its future seemed in jeopardy as a result of County Council spending cuts. This article provides a historical background to the service, and describes how a campaign developed to defend the provision. The campaign has achieved some success, but the service has been reduced and its longer term future remains uncertain. Continued public spending cuts, and a perception that arts education is a luxury, not a necessity, do not bode well for the future.

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Year 7 Accelerated Learning Curriculum 2006-2010: from a concept to an outstanding curriculum (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2011

The author, Head of Year 7 at Cantell Maths and Computing College in Southampton, describes the development of an innovative approach to Year 7, which is based on the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency programme 'Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills'. He shows how the new approach evolved and continues to develop including the impact it has had on improvements across both Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4.

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Death of Meritocracy Reconsidered (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2011

Poor social mobility has become controversial, with the stranglehold of the independent schools over elite universities intensifying during the New Labour period. The author identifies the failure of New Labour's Mark 2 A level reforms to deal with the situation, particularly the introduction of the A star at A level, which has given the independent schools a massive and apparently objective superiority over all other schools, including grammar schools, in the university entrance race. Together with increased tuition fees and the prospect of above quota admissions for rich students with high grades, elite universities are in danger of becoming finishing schools for the rich. The author proposes reintroducing the Advanced Extension Award, also known as the Special Paper, as an immediate means of addressing inequality in the 18 plus exam system and university entrance as a step towards a more fundamental meritocratic reform of the exam and university entrance system.

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‘Gove Moves in Mysterious Ways His Blunders to Perform’: an epistolary critique (with apologies to William Cowper) (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2011

The Coalition Government's education policies are ripe for criticism and equally ripe for controlled but principled derision. In the letters pages of the Times Educational Supplement and, to a lesser extent, Education Guardian, Colin Richards has subjected them to a barrage of criticism, some couched as sardonic humour. Here are reproduced a self-edited selection of his published and unpublished letters.

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EDITORIAL A Comprehensive Curriculum: reaffirmation and renewal (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2011

This Special Issue on Curriculum is prefaced by two important interventions in the current debate. The first is Clyde Chitty's wonderfully clear and trenchant critique of the aptly renamed 'Demolition' government's opening months in office. His A Massive Power Grab from Local Communities: the real significance of the 2010 White Paper and the 2011 Education Bill provides a concise and compelling expose of proposals that are about to blight 'future generations of our children - and, in particular, those whose parents lack the social standing and financial clout needed to negotiate your way around our increasingly iniquitous state system.'

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A Massive Power Grab from Local Communities: the real significance of the 2010 White Paper and the 2011 Education Bill (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2011

This article looks at the Coalition Government's recent White Paper and Education Bill whose chief effect will be to further destabilise the schools system in the United Kingdom.

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The Seesaw Curriculum: it’s time that educational policy matured (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2011

The author claims that the UK coalition government's White Paper, entitled the Importance of Teaching, continues to polarise curriculum and pedagogical thinking in England into subject-centred versus child-centred camps and in doing so takes sides with the former. He argues that government reports - such as Hadow, Spens and Norwood - have been concerned with the role and status of the traditional subject-based curriculum of the elite grammar schools in a mass educational system. In this policy context cycles of curriculum development and reform have tended to seesaw from the subject-centred to the child-centred curriculum poles and back again. Attempts to reconcile these conflicting perspectives by locating the subject-centred curriculum in the realm of educational ends and the child-centred perspective, as exemplified by the thought of John Dewey, in the realm of educational methods. In this way the child-centred approach is used to improve and broaden access to the traditional subject-based curriculum, while being rendered subservient to it. The author goes on to examine Dewey's own integrated conception of the relationship between subjects and the child-centred perspective and its implications for curriculum and pedagogy. These are compared with the views on curriculum design and teacher training expressed in the White Paper. The author concludes that there is a growing gap, between the partial models of mind and its development that inform government policy in the field of education and advances towards a broader and more integrated model. From the latter standpoint educational policy-making in England will look increasingly disordered.

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Curricula for the Common School: what shall we tell our children? (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2011

This article gives an account of the way an opportunity has been taken to draw together ideas for a curriculum for the common school and beyond, during the writing of a new edition of the Index for Inclusion; developing learning and participation in schools (Booth & Ainscow, 2011). I discuss the way thinking about the curriculum for the common school was curtailed in the mid 1980s and has re-emerged for me following further elaboration of a values framework and a consideration of its implications for educational action. It has been prompted too by facing up to imperatives ignored in the past and clamouring for attention in the present. I consider the nature of a curriculum that builds from experience, is values and rights-based, is local and global, engages with sustainability and roots us in the past, present and future. This involves a radical re-structuring for adults and children of the knowledge and skills which frame learning activities inside and outside classrooms. I give a brief indication of how I have fleshed out curriculum areas, and how I hope for these efforts to be refined in negotiations with others. I briefly compare my own suggestions with proposals from two reviews of primary education (Alexander, 2010; DCSF 2009) and the critique of education of Nel Noddings (Noddings 2005, 2006). I acknowledge the resistance to challenge to a traditional school curriculum, and the particular pressures towards a narrowing of the secondary curriculum from the Coalition Government in the United Kingdom. I stress that, in keeping with my values, I remain optimistic that we, adults and children, working together, as we hurtle through the 21st Century, can construct curricula that are right for our time; that connect together the small and big things that really matter.

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Curriculum Lost: a festival of errors (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2011

This article traces the career of one teacher through his involvement in a number of school based curriculum design innovations. The idea of 'depth' or distance is used to discuss a number of dimensions against which it is possible to judge the worth of a curriculum from a range of perspectives, most especially that of the student. The discussion also regrets the lack of a robust contemporary debate around the nature of curriculum and illuminates a lack of coherence and understanding of criteria for selecting curriculum content in our schools today.

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Introduction to Robin Alexander (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2011

Introductory remarks to the Third Brian Simon Memorial Lecture by Robin Alexander: Legacies, Policies and Prospects: one year on from the Cambridge Primary Review

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Legacies, Policies and Prospects: one year on from the Cambridge Primary Review (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2011

The 2010 Brian Simon Memorial Lecture, Saturday 6 November 2010, Institute of Education, University of London

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Curriculum Autonomy through Curriculum Expertise (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2011

The author argues that the decisions primary teachers make about the curriculum need to be informed by well-developed expertise in the subjects they are planning and teaching. This expertise is necessary when teachers are exercising professional autonomy in areas such as curriculum design, securing breadth and balance, and managing curriculum content. The importance of subject expertise is presented against a backdrop of uncertainty about the primary curriculum, the removal of structures and systems that teachers have become used to and the legacy of years of insufficient training for teachers in the non-core subjects. In conclusion, he suggests that professional development needs to build on, rather than discard, curriculum planning used for many years by identifying the principles on which it is organised so that teachers are able to move their practice forward from a secure base.

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Time and Narrative at Eight Years Old: an essay in interpretation (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2011

This article examines an eight-year-old's story as a literary work which throws light on the extent of a young child's knowledge of the human condition and on the child's capacity to set forth her knowledge in measured prose.

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What is Radical in School Geography Today? (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2011

This article addresses the question of what 'radical school geography' might look like in the present historical moment. It traces the history of a distinctive 'radical' tradition in school geography, most prominently associated with the work of John Huckle, who argued for the importance of understanding the content and pedagogy of school geography as linked to the requirements of capital. The article updates Huckle's analysis, suggesting that contemporary school geography is characterised by: (1) an unwillingness to focus on the question of what should be taught in schools; (2) teacher identities more concerned with the skills and competences of how to teach; and (3) a 'postmodern' mood of relativism. In the light of this, the article suggests the need for radical school geography teachers to focus explicitly on the types of knowledge that can help students understand the processes of economic production and social reproduction in contemporary capitalism. In conclusion, the article briefly discusses five substantive themes that can form the basis for geography education.

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Big Society? Better History? Or Same Old Nonsense? Drawing the Battle Lines for the Future of School History (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2011

School history looks set to return to the political agenda with the recent announcement of a curriculum review and ministerial speeches on the need for change. This article seeks to identify key issues on which the battle for school history will be fought. It situates the debate in the context of developments in theories of how people learn and in the UK tradition of history education research findings. It addresses some of the arguments raised by the Better History Group and argues that history teacher professionals are best placed to decide the future shape of history education.

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Mathematics and Comprehensive Ideals (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2011

This article revisits methods and debates about teaching mathematics that were common in the 1980s and early 1990s, and then moves up to date with the findings from three mathematics departments that set out to make a difference for their lowest attaining students. The methods they used were distinctly focused on core mathematical ideas, and how all students could work with these. This Vygotskian approach supports students' development towards thinking in new-to-them mathematical ways, rather than accessing mathematical enquiry through particular social structures or non-mathematical modes of engagement. The author claims that any school which does not take seriously the mathematical understanding of the lowest achieving students is not truly comprehensive.

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Can Education Compensate for Society? (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2011

The extent to which education can compensate for social disadvantage is a matter of political controversy, especially in the context of policies for social mobility. On the one hand, to blame poor achievement on social class or poverty was seen to dodge the professional responsibility of teachers. On the other, the strong correlation between social disadvantage and school attainment would suggest that schooling alone cannot compensate - more radical social changes are needed. This article analyses what it means to explain educational attainment in terms of social background, and seeks to avoid the confusion of such explanatory accounts with those of causality.

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Can Schools Change Society?’ (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2011

This article reviews the extent to which effectiveness strategies have compensated for social disadvantage, explores the reasons offered over time for the association between disadvantage and less good student outcomes, and argues that contemporary optimism and pessimism about change and progress relate to a neo-liberal paradigm that has little to say about children's learning and even less about the slow evolution of mind and society.

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Editorial. Lies, Exaggerations and Half-truths (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2010

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Learning Lessons from the Swedish Model (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2010

This article is a contribution to the debate in England about the Coalition Government's policy to encourage interested parties to set up Swedish inspired Free Schools. The article argues, that in order to understand how Free Schools in Sweden operate, it is important to see them in the context of the Swedish school system. The article presents findings from research on performance, segregation and cost.

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A Comprehensive Response to the Coalition: how should we approach current government policies on education? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2010

In this article the author offers a few interim thoughts on how those of us campaigning for a comprehensive future should think about, and publicly respond to, the education policies of the current Coalition government and the new direction of the Labour Party.

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From Partnership to Community Governance (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2010

If learning is a journey between worlds, school governing bodies have a crucial role to play in mediating them. By establishing a public space for the voice of different communities to be expressed and deliberated governing bodies enable schools to understand and engage the cultural sources that motivate young people to learn. This article draws upon recent research which describes how leading authorities are creating a framework of governance to support the creation of such a learning community.

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The Coalition and the Curriculum (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2010

The UK's new Coalition Government looks as if it will make the narrow, traditional school curriculum we have now even narrower and more rooted in the past. The Labour government made timid moves to improve the National Curriculum, not least by equipping it with a few general aims, even though these meshed poorly on to intra-subject aims. Michael Gove and Nick Gibb have both produced justifications for a traditional curriculum, but these do not stand up. This article suggests an unacknowledged rationale for it; and concludes with a critique of the Coalition's notion of a 'fair' educational system.

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Education’s ‘Creditability Crunch’: the upper secondary years (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2010

While the policies of the Coalition Government will divide learners and limit opportunities, education for the upper secondary years will continue to experience a more systematic 'credibility crunch' with schools and colleges facing a crisis of legitimacy and posing major challenges for reformers

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Ever Reducing Democracy? A Comparative View of the Legislative Events Surrounding the Introduction of New-style Academies in 2010 and Grant-maintained Schools in 1988 (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2010

In terms of reform of domestic policy, the Conservative election campaign of 2010 was predicated on the idea of citizen (or consumer) power and a reduction in the role of the government in decisions effecting people's lives. The Academies Act appears to be taking this idea in the opposite direction. In comparing and contrasting the provisions of the Education Reform Act (ERA) 1988 concerning grant-maintained schools with the Academies Act's introduction of new style academies in 2010, this article traces the growing disconnection between constitutional and democratic values and notions of how Parliament should scrutinise legislation and how schools should be held accountable by their local communities.

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What Has been, What Is and What Might Be: the relevance of the critical writings of Edmond Holmes to contemporary primary education policy and practice (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2010

Edmond Holmes was His Majesty's Chief Inspector of Elementary Schools from 1905 to 1910. No full biography of Holmes has been published nor any detailed critique of his contribution to the theory and practice of education. Yet his post-retirement observations on education were widely quoted and, in some quarters, very influential. They remain pertinent today in an accountability climate which bears some resemblance to that pertaining in 1911 - the year in which Holmes' most influential book, What is and What Might Be, was published. Following a brief account of Holmes' career this article focuses on some particularly memorable passages from his educational writing where he criticized policy and practice which he traced back to the period of the Revised Code and its successors and to the shadow it continued to cast a decade or so after its formal abolition. The article also attempts a brief personal commentary on the relevance of Holmes' critique to issues in contemporary policy and practice in primary education - the twenty-first counterpart of elementary education with which he was so closely concerned.

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Theorising African Caribbean Absences in Multicultural Art Education (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2010

This article looks at the learning of African Caribbean pupils in art and design classrooms in the United Kingdom. It proceeds from the proposition that African Caribbean pupils, as the descendants of enslaved peoples whose cultural lineage has been blurred by the skewed relationship with the white majority group, are uniquely disadvantaged in the classroom.

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The Cambridge Primary Review: a voice for the future (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2010

The Cambridge Primary Review, the most comprehensive study of English primary education for forty years, is now becoming widely disseminated. This article describes ways in which schools can begin to take action immediately to implement the aims and principles offered for discussion by the Cambridge Primary Review. There is a call for the profession to become re energised and empowered through a collective endeavour to seek the best possible learning opportunities for all teachers and children through a demand for excellence in all areas of the curriculum.

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Primary Science: are there any reasons to be cheerful? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2010

During the last decade, science in the Primary curriculum has been squeezed from different directions. The literacy and numeracy strategies restricted time for science enquiry, and the perceived importance of the science SAT restricted teachers' imaginations and confidence. The end of this SAT was announced shortly after the publication of the Rose review, which had been widely reported as recommending dropping science as a core subject. These events combined to damage the perceived profile of science in primary schools. The coalition government is now promising further curriculum review and an overhaul of primary assessment regimes, alongside stringent financial cuts in local government and higher education. This article reflects on the challenges facing primary science at such a critical juncture and asks: should we be worried about primary science? Are there any reasons to be cheerful?

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Achieving Zero Permanent Exclusions from School, Social Justice and Economy (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2010

Zero exclusion schools are possible. More realistically, clusters of schools, with support, coordination and brokering by the local authority (LA) or through local partnerships, can organise and sustain an inclusive educational community. Exclusion from school is a quiet mockery of Every Child Matters. Even with the coalition government's abandonment of the requirements for local attendance and behaviour partnerships (due to be in place from September, 2010) and even with the Academies Act in place, it still makes sense in terms of social justice, educational and child support and saving money to reduce exclusions. This article looks at the social justice case through secondary data and reports research and action about how committed local authorities along with their communities can successfully reduce or eliminate permanent exclusions. All political persuasions can sign up to this and prevent harm which is experienced disproportionately by some groups.

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BOOK REVIEWS (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2010

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Editorial. Education plc (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2010

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Hobson’s Choice: education policies in the 2010 General Election (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2010

This article summarises the policies relating to families, children and education which were presented to the electorate by the three main parties in their manifestos, together with the policies listed in the Coalition's Programme for Government. The author concludes with a few observations on the future of state education in England.

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Representative Refusals: what comprehensives keep out, and what ministers keep to themselves (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2010

This article restates the needs for a comprehensive system of education to be intolerant of 'ability'-thinking, and wonders why so few government ministers are prepared to reveal the type of school to which they send their children.

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The Cambridge Primary Review: a reply to R.J. Campbell (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2010

The author was disappointed by R.J.Campbell's sour critique of the Cambridge Primary Review in FORUM Volume 52 Number 1 2010. His description of the Review's proposals on curriculum and pedagogy as 'backward-looking, cumbersome and partial' is such a bizarre misjudgement that it calls for some response. The author comments in turn on R.J.Campbell's criticism of the Review's twelve aims for the primary curriculum, his doubts about the curriculum domains outlined, and his discussion of pedagogy.

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Returning Education to Layering Horizons? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2010

The author considers the prospect that the new Liberal-Conservative coalition Government will use the crisis of the largest public debt since the Second World War to contract and restructure education and public services, and discusses what cuts and changes are likely to happen.

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The Simple View of Education or Education Policy for Dummies (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2010

In November 2009 the current Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, gave a speech at the Centre for Policy Studies in which he set out the Conservative Party's priorities for education. This article explores some of the proposals in his speech, with particular references to initial teacher education and his attraction to Nordic and US models, and suggests that he has a limited grasp of his subject and the potential cost of his proposals.

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Education Policy and Practice ‘under’ New Labour: an epistolary critique (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2010

Since the election of 1997 New Labour's education policy has been subject to variety of forms of critique - in this journal and others. One of the sources for such critique has been a barrage of letters unleashed for over a decade by Colin Richards in the Times Educational Supplement. Here are reproduced a self-edited selection of his published and unpublished letters, many of them informed by his belief that a sardonic sense of humour is perhaps the most potent weapon against an insensitive and professionally uninformed officialdom.

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Education and the Private Finance Initiative (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2010

This article reviews the development of Private Finance Initiative schemes in the United Kingdom, and reflects on how profitable opportunitees for private financiers and construction companies were created at the expense of the public sector.

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Has New Labour’s Numbers Drive Done Lasting Damage to State Education? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2010

The last government's emphasis on results statistics - implicit in its systems for holding teachers to account - as the be-all-and-end-all of a good education, reflected the largely undebated victory of one set of possible aims for schooling over another. Pragmatism beat idealism, as schools' priorities were reshaped along similarly calculating lines to those of New Labour. Education policy seemed to become about raising schools' results to appease sceptical parents who might otherwise depart to the private sector, just as the party fought the Conservatives by trying to appeal to middle-class voters in marginal seats. But the policy has had major flaws, which may undermine state education in the long run.

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The Death of Meritocracy: exams and university admissions in crisis (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2010

The author argues that the debate on declining social mobility has neglected the role of the examination and testing system. At all levels of education working class children are failing and middle class children achieving whatever ability levels are involved. The article focusses on the A-Level examination and the controversy over the way the expansion of higher education has benefited the middle classes. The author argues the expansion of higher education in the 1980s and changes to examinations benefited the middle class. Further, new Labour reforms of A-Level, and 16-plus examinations to include vocational subjects, paradoxically undermined their own desire for meritocracy. Coupled with wider changes, notably tuition fees and the power of elite universities to control their admissions policies to favour the privileged, A-Level reform threatens to turn higher education back to the Brideshead Revisited state of affairs of the 1930s.

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Another School is Possible: developing positive alternatives to academies (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2010

Low-attaining schools have been targeted by government for closure and transformation into academies. This article argues that opposition to academies is necessary but not sufficient. It is vital to do more than simply defend the status quo. In the city of Leicester an alternative vision for high-quality education, local authority led and grounded in community comprehensive schools, is being actively pursued. Its hallmarks are innovation, creativity and collaboration between schools and their teachers. The successes already achieved in Leicester under this new approach reveal the government's policy of academisation' to be 'last year's model'.

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Bringing Them Together: what children think about the world in which they live and how it could be improved (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2010

Attitudes towards environmental issues are influenced by many factors, including what is learned in formal educational settings such as schools and more informally, through such sources as the media, interaction with family and friends and our everyday lived experiences. This study investigated children's ideas about the environment and their perceptions of their future world. The initial stimulus for the discussions was a television advertisement for a soap detergent and in total 51 children aged 10-11 years old discussed what actions could be taken to make 'a nicer world'. The concept of global learning, which draws on aspects of environmental and development education, provided the framework for the discussions and the analyses of the outcomes. The children demonstrated their awareness of environmental issues as well as some confusion, whilst also revealing their appreciation of media strategies.

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Brian Simon and FORUM (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2010

This is the text of a talk given at a special one-day conference held at the Institute of Education on 26 March 2010 with the title 'Brian Simon and Educational Change: biography, history and politics'.

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BOOK REVIEWS (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2010

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Editorial (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2010

In their Report on the recent Nuffield Review of 14 to 19 education and training in England and Wales, Education for All (2009), Professor Richard Pring and his co-authors cite with approval (on pages 11 and 33) Basil Bernstein's (in)famous aphorism 'education cannot compensate for society'; this then became the unfortunate title of Richard Pring's article on the Nuffield Review for a recent number of FORUM (Volume 51, Number 2, pages 197-204); and Professor Pring used it again in a recent letter to The Guardian (5 January 2010), where he called Bernstein's argument 'persuasive'.

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BRAVO! and BUT…: reading the Cambridge Primary Review (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2010

There is much to welcome in the Cambridge Primary Review, not least its authors' determination to stimulate discussion and debate, and their resolute view that it is more important for teachers to do their own thinking than simply obey. Equally admirable is the Review's emphasis on the need to understand our recent educational past, if we are to improve education in the future. But other sections of this substantial work are less laudable. In particular, the review of the evidence on setting, streaming and structured ability-grouping, which leads to the conclusion 'Categorise with caution', is a matter of grave concern.

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A Tale of Two Reviews (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2010

This article regrets that the Final Report of the Cambridge Review was greeted with such contempt by government ministers but also argues that a more detailed consideration by the Review of the proposals in the Rose Review would have helped to build a consensus for the future.

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Conservative Curriculum and Partial Pedagogy: a critique of proposals in the Cambridge Primary Review (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2010

This article offers a critique of proposals for curriculum reform and pedagogy in the Cambridge Primary Review. It is argued that the proposals on curriculum lack innovatory character, and if adopted, would reduce opportunities for teacher and school experimentation. The proposed national framework of domains has its provenance in centralised models developed in the 1970s and 1980s. A proposal for the inclusion of religious education in a national statutory framework is judged at best to be privileging religious institutions, and at worst to be supporting indoctrination. In respect of pedagogy the emphasis given to one version of constructivist pedagogy, dialogic teaching, is questioned. Alternative, more radical proposals, that might have been developed, are suggested.

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A Possible Accountability Framework for Primary Education: building on (but going beyond) the recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2010

This article accepts the need for primary school accountability at three levels and indicates how this can be met within the current political climate by building on the recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review, whilst acknowledging, for the present at least, political susceptibilities over testing.

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Come Rain or Shine: a whole school approach to Forest School (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2010

This article begins by describing a typical Forest School session that takes place in every class every week at The Wroxham School in Potters Bar. It goes on to outline a brief history of Forest School from its inception, its aims and ethos, and how it has been adapted for the ethos and needs of the children at Wroxham. The article also looks at the impact that outdoor activities have had on the children and parents with quotes collected from various members of the school community. Finally, the article focuses on the next steps for Forest School and outdoor learning at Wroxham.

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Seeing the Wood for the Trees (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2010

This article is an informal description of a forest school outdoor programme designed to boost emotional literacy, inclusion and attainment of secondary school pupils with a range of learning and behavioural difficulties.

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Forest School: reclaiming it from Scandinavia (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2010

'Forest schools' are an increasingly well-known feature of the educational landscape, having been adopted by many local authorities across the United Kingdom in an effort to build children's confidence and self-esteem through learning outdoors in a woodland setting. Their origins are usually described as deriving from a Scandinavian (particularly Danish) tradition which was introduced to the UK in the early 1990s. This article explores, and suggests links with, the history of a similar movement called 'woodcraft' which flourished almost a century ago, and which informed the pedagogy of a small progressive school (itself called Forest School) which existed in Hampshire in the 1930s.

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Copenhagen Campaigners: an active citizens project (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2010

In the lead-up to the Copenhagen Climate talks in December 2009, Islington Council's Sustainable Schools Officer involved seven local schools in an engaging citizenship project entitled 'Copenhagen Campaigners'. The aim of the project was to raise pupil's awareness of this historic global event and empower them to take action on a local level.

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Incredible Edible: how to grow sustainable communities (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2010

This article seeks to provide an outline of the basic ideas and approaches used by the Incredible Edible programme, a community enterprise that is based in the United Kingdom. To do this the author briefly (1) defines the context for the programme, (2) defines the concepts that inform the programme, (3) and illustrates some of the action of the programme, and (4) identifies the essential changes which that needs to occur in local governance in order to support a sustainable model of community. The Incredible Edible community is one that is ready to absorb changes needed to ensure that human society becomes harmonious with the natural environment, and at the same time remains economically viable and personally fulfilling for the individual citizens.

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From Global Challenge to Local Efficacy: rediscovering human agency in learning for survival (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2010

There is an assumption underlying education for sustainable development that all we need do is learn the skills and knowledge to live sustainably. Yet, many already know the issues and know we should act, but we don't. This article argues that a key part of the problem is that we live according to myths and daydreams perpetuated by a growth oriented global economic system such that ecological collapse remains surreal in our lives. The article argues that for any meaningful progress to be made in response to environmental challenges we need to reconnect with the roots of our existence, become fully conscious of the contradiction between the living daydreams of our lives and the reality of our relationship with nature and become more critically self-aware about our choices, actions and impacts in our everyday lives at a local level. This requires a different approach to education.

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‘Getting and Spending, We Lay Waste Our Powers’: environmental education and the culture of the school (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2010

This article sketches some implications for education of interpreting a key orientating idea of environmental education - sustainability - as a receptive-responsive frame of mind. It argues that, so interpreted, sustainability has extensive implications for the life of schools as places of learning, particularly with regard to the implicit scientism that is detected as a continuing pervasive influence and that is understood as an expression of an underlying 'metaphysics of mastery' in respect of both the human and the natural world. This posture is criticised in terms of its enervating effect on the ability of individuals to engage with the school environment and its destructive effect on the milieu of the school. It concludes that a central ambition of environmental education must be to work towards a school culture that recognizes that non-instrumental caring is an authentic way of knowing and that celebrates poetic responsiveness as a fundamental condition of education.

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Education for Survival (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2010

This article provides a brief overview of current approaches to education and concludes that none of these is sufficient to meet the challenges that now face the human race. It argues instead for a new concept of education for survival.

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‘Gifted and Talented’: a label too far? (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2010

'Gifted and talented' has become the official way of referring to high-achieving, able school pupils. The author questions the validity and appropriateness of this label and calls for a more sophisticated and inclusive framework.

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Reasons to Be Cheerful: the story of one community school and the New Labour government (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2010

This article was originally presented at a seminar run by the Secondary Umbrella Group on the theme of 'A Review of Labour's Achievement: Where next for secondary education?' It looks at the struggle of one secondary school and its local community to improve educational opportunities and life chances for its students. The author, a long-term governor at the school, uses the school's story as a lens through which to look at some of the major educational initiatives of New Labour's time in office. Without those initiatives, the school's story - and the lives of its students - would be very different. The school's fortunes have been fundamentally and positively affected by government policies, as they have also been shaped by the political policies of their Local Authority. Readers are left to determine for themselves which policies have offered most to the young people at the school.

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Bring Back Das Kapital Punishment! Credit Crunch and the Fall of the ‘Knowledge Economy’ (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2010

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Ending Rejection at 11+: see how it can be done (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2010

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Editorial (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2009

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The Question of Admission: the RISE Report (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2009

This article examines the findings of the recent London School of Economics RISE Report looking at policies relating to secondary school admissions in England.

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Is Choice of School Just a Mirage? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2009

This article points out that, in the United Kingdom, parents have a right to state a preference for a particular school which is not the same as a right to choose.

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Feeling the Crunch: education policy and economic crisis (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2009

The global capitalist crisis is impacting dramatically across nation states and their economies. Although a complete collapse of the system appears to have been avoided by decisions to take co-ordinated interventionist action to shore up short term demand, governments have generally rejected the more radical actions required to address the fundamental issues posed by the crisis. This is likely to have significant and long term consequences for education policy. In this article the importance of understanding the relationship between education policy and the wider economy is emphasised, as is the extent to which the shape of the former is increasingly driven by the imperatives of the latter. The article begins by exploring the relationship between education policy and the economy, and then identifies ways in which the current economic crisis is likely to shape education policy in the short and medium term. It argues that whilst the consequences for education policy are likely to be deeply damaging, there are new opportunities to reassert the case for education as a public good based on the values of local democracy and economic stability.

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Extravagant Aims, Distorted Practice (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2009

In the decades after the Second World War, the British Government had a democratic, independent and locally administered education service that was recognised as crucial to the post-war political, moral and economic recovery of the country. However, since that time, the independence of schools and local communities has been increasingly usurped, central government has taken detailed control of education and a distorted economic metaphor has been applied to every aspect of the service. This article outlines key aspects of the story and urges a sustained response.

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‘O Rose, thou art sick’, ‘O Testing, thou art malign’: a critique of two official reports (with apologies to William Blake) (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2009

Two official reports were published in 2009, each potentially important to the immediate and medium-term future of primary education and each (in the author's view) potentially damaging. The conservative nature of the reports' proposals are outlined in this article as are the opportunities missed for a fundamental reappraisal of the primary curriculum and its assessment.

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The Rose Report [continued]: ‘the invisible worm’ (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2009

While Colin Richards' article is a trenchant analysis of the big themes and missed opportunities of the Rose Report, this response examines some of the small print. It concludes that the document is disfigured by many minor blemishes, and is also fatally flawed by a crude misapprehension of the nature of progress and the purpose of education.

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Choosing the Right Approach: New Labour and the care and education of young children (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2009

Early Years provision in England has historically been fragmented and under-funded. In seeking to address this situation, New Labour has developed a range of Early Years initiatives with the principal aim of tackling poverty and disadvantage. This article traces the recent history of Early Years provision and critically explores the extent to which New Labour has been effective in unifying services, raising the status of Early Years practitioners, addressing under funding together with challenging disadvantage and social exclusion.

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‘This is Determination’: grassroots opposition to Academies (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2009

This article reports on current campaigning against the British government's policy of opening hundreds of Academy schools.

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Science Education and Religion in the post-Darwin era: an historical perspective (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2009

This article is part of the author's current research into science teachers' perspectives on the theory of evolution and its teaching in the classroom. Anti-evolutionary views have recently become very prominent in the context of science education, with almost one third of science teachers in the United Kingdom agreeing that creationism should be taught alongside evolution in the science classroom. However, these are not new views. Indeed, they have been around since the publication of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species in 1859. The article focuses on the main anti-evolutionary movements which arose in the 20th century such as the ideas leading to the Scopes Trial, Flood Geology and Neo-creationism. It analyses the reasons for the emergence of these movements with the aim of understanding the conditions which motivate the development of fundamentalist religious ideas. Conclusions are drawn about why this debate still persists today and about the impact this has had on science education. One might ask: 'Why are the polar ends of the spectrum so prominent in the public arena?'

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Sexism and Permanent Exclusion from School (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2009

Focussing on narratives collected during a two year participant observation research project in the children's services department of an urban local authority, this article addresses the intersection between incidents of permanent exclusion from school and assumptions made on the basis of a young person's gender. The article considers gendered class reproduction through the choice of GCSEs; gender normativity in single sex schools; and the relationship between domestic violence and sexual aggression in incidents of school exclusion. It finishes with an account of some of the work being done to develop the professionals' support strategies and young people's self-management skills necessary to tackle these effects.

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‘Strong in their Minds’: young people’s poems across an ocean (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2009

This article stresses the quality of universality within young people's poetry. The writer uses the poetry mainly written by children of Pakistani origin living in Pitsmoor and Fir Vale in north-east Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, as a stimulus for the creative writing of children of the Mohawk nation in the reservation school of Tyendinaga Territory in Eastern Ontario, Canada. The similar qualities and themes of both sets of poems illustrate both the internationalism of the imagination, and a critical consciousness within children that stretches across oceans.

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Explorations of Lifelong Learning Ethics (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2009

The methodological approaches that were used in this research were ethnographic, quantitative and analysis of post-compulsory education policy documents 1945-2007. The article aims to explore the issues of ethics in lifelong learning, and an alternative approach to the analysis of the impact of lifelong learning policy, by focusing research attention as follows: first, on the contests between the meaning of inclusion in lifelong learning to lifelong learners and the meaning of inclusion in lifelong learning to the state, and second on the ethical concerns facing lifelong learners. Finally, the ethics are explored of the practice of inclusion in lifelong learning through the ethical dilemmas that face teachers and advisers of lifelong learners.

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Lessons from the Past: the importance of educational history (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2009

For the past twenty years, the training of teachers in England has consisted of little more than instruction in 'delivering' the National Curriculum. In this piece, Derek Gillard argues that there are now encouraging signs of a resurgence of interest in the history of education. He reviews the new edition of Clyde Chitty's Education Policy in Britain, which looks at the history of education from a political perspective, and summarises the content of his own website, which is devoted to the history of Education in England.

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Chris Woodhead: a new champion of eugenic theories (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2009

Eugenic Theories are clearly alive and well in present-day society - or this is at least true of those theories relating to the passing on of abilities and talents from one generation to the next. This depressing thought was prompted by a reading of Chris Woodhead's latest book A Desolation of Learning.

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How ‘Edu-babble’ Turns Pupils into ‘Customers’ (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2009

The Report of the Nuffield Review of 14-19 education, described by its Lead Director Professor Richard Pring of Oxford University in the last number of FORUM (Volume 51, Number 2 http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/forum.2009.51.2.197), highlights the increasing use of what can be described as 'edu-dabble' by sectors of the education establishment.

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EDITORIAL A Game of Snakes and Ladders (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2009

As I write this Editorial at the beginning of May 2009, there is really very little to be cheerful about, but I will try to look for the 'green shoots' of educational recovery.

To begin on a sour note, Sir Alan Steer's Report for the Government on school discipline produced a predictable spate of negative and despairing newspaper stories on 15 April 2009, the day that it was published; and the BBC One television programme 'The Big Questions', broadcast on 19 April, actually featured a debate as to whether it was now time to reintroduce corporal punishment in schools.

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The Enduring Nature of Egalitarian Education in Scandinavia: an English perspective (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2009

It is the aim of this article to contribute towards an understanding of why Scandinavia and England have achieved very different levels of social integration in their state school systems.

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The Uncertain Character of Recent Educational Reform in Greece (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2009

This article outlines the main education reforms that have taken place in Greece from the 1960s until the present. The author discusses how the direction of these reforms has been influenced not only by 'global' pressures for 'modernization' but also by the distinctive socio-cultural Greek context. The conclusion stresses that despite the various attempts to reform the Greek education system key issues about the purposes of education provision remain unresolved.

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Short and Fraught: the history of primary education in England (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2009

Official reports on primary education are a bit like London buses. You wait ages and then three come along at once. There has been no major report on primary education since the 1967 Plowden Report Children and their Primary Schools. Now, final reports are awaited from the Cambridge Primary Review and the government-appointed Independent Review of the Primary Curriculum, and the Children Schools and Familes Select Committee has just published its report on the National Curriculum. This piece aims to place these reviews in their historical context.

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Playful Words: the educational significance of children’s linguistic and literary play (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2009

This article is the text of a keynote address given to the North Dakota Study Group on Evaluation at its annual conference in Chicago in February 2009. Three examples of children's linguistic and literary playfulness are examined, two from England and one from the USA. The article explores the radical implications of these examples for primary education, identifying four values in particular that children's literary play calls for: empathy, freedom of time and space, conversation, and documentation.

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Happy Fiasco! The National Curriculum Tests of 2008, and After (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2009

This article, which draws heavily on the Sutherland Inquiry report into the delivery of National Curriculum testing in 2008, outlines important aspects of the failure that year to report test-scores on time, considers the extent to which ministers might have been held more accountable and reviews the state of the long struggle to replace the current form of NC testing with less-damaging alternative forms of assessment.

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Education Cannot Compensate for Society: reflections on the Nuffield Review of 14-19 Education and Training (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2009

This article is a synopsis of the main argument of the Nuffield Review of 14-19 Education and Training - in particular, the problems which gave rise to the Review, the ways in which the government has responded, and how the Review believes policy and practice should develop in the future.

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Southampton: a case study on why Academies are not the answer (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2009

The author recounts the arrival of two Oasis Community Learning Academies in Southampton through a process of failed political courage to continue supporting the Local Authority. He tells of the subsequent impact when children and parents react against the regime in one of the Academies. In conclusion he challenges the Labour Government over the issues that arise from this case and similar Academy problems.

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Opposition Education Policies (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2009

This article examines some of the recent documents and policy statements on education policy from the two main opposition parties. It argues that, while we have reached the stage where New Labour and Conservative pronouncements on education are more or less interchangeable, the Liberal Democrats have made a genuine attempt to forge a distinctive and progressive policy of their own.

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Mandela, Manchester: a response to establishment pessimism (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2009

This article includes some of the remarkable poems to be included in Mandela, Manchester , an anthology of school students' work dedicated to the inspirational life of Nelson Mandela.

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Enjoy and Achieve: finding opportunities to action the Every Child Matters framework to provide opportunities for children and adults to work collaboratively on an outdoor learning project (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2009

Every Child Matters (ECM), an agenda for agencies working with children, was introduced following the tragic death of Victoria Climbié in 2001. Lord Laming produced a report that proposed a new way of working for all professionals working with children. In June 2003, under a Labour government, the first Children's minister was appointed and the ECM agenda was actioned. The agenda outlined radical change for children's services and individuals working with children. In 2003 I was employed as a science teacher in a South East London mixed comprehensive. I implemented and managed the Healthy Schools initiative. At the time I struggled to find a tangible definition of ECM and what form it could take in a school setting. Now, working with students, training to become professional educators I introduce ECM as a framework. It enables individuals within an educational setting to start to share ideas that are context specific and relate directly to those it affects. In order for the framework to be successful it needs to be focussed and recognise all successes, small and large.

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The Switch to Private Pension Plans for Teachers, 1982-2002: a case of freedom of choice or financial scandal? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2009

In the early 1980s the Conservative Administration introduced legislation to promote private personal pension plans for public sector workers. An army of commission-driven sales staff from the financial services industry sought to persuade teachers and others to abandon their inflation-proof pension schemes for those offered by private companies. It took some time before it was realised that this was a retrograde step for most employees taking this advice. Fortunately, trade unions were well represented within the public sector and they interceded on behalf of their members and exposed the fraudulent behaviour of established financial companies. The Financial Services Authority not only fined the financial services companies thousands of pounds but forced them to restore employees to the situation they would have been in if they had ignored the advice given earlier. This financial scandal took nearly 20 years to resolve satisfactorily. Teachers and other employees learned a hard lesson: most private companies put the profit motive before service to customers, they are not necessarily more efficient than the public sector and financial consultants are, in effect, sales persons whose advice is usually motivated by commission and bonus payments. Painful though the experience of many teachers had been, by the Autumn of 2008 the whole country would be shaken by the disastrous effects of a weakly regulated free market financial system.

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Initial Teacher Training or Education? ITT or ITE? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2009

In this article, it is argued that the terms education and training are different, but not mutually exclusive. Where post-graduate certificate courses are concerned, training forms only part of the preparation of new teachers.

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BOOK REVIEW (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2009

The Professionals: better teachers, better schools (Phil Revell), reviewed by Derek Gillard

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Editorial, A Checklist Society (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2009

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Education, Inequality and Erosion of Social Cohesion (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2009

Income inequality has been rising in Britain for two decades and wealth is also more unequally distributed now than when New Labour first came to power. Various factors have contributed to this, including education which, according to the PISA 2006 data, has more unequal outcomes in the UK than in all but 2 of the 29 tested countries. Comparative analysis of the PISA data suggests that countries with the most comprehensive education systems, such as the Nordics, have the most equal outcomes, whereas school choice and diversity in the UK may well be contributing towards high educational inequality.

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The Reinvention of the Comprehensive School System in Finland: how do market-oriented reforms impact upon equity and equality of opportunity? (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2009

This article examines the changing nature of comprehensive schooling in Finland since the 1990s and focuses on analysing the impact of the changes on equity and equality of opportunity. Comparisons are made between the development of 'school markets' in the south of the country and the situation in the north of the country where the case study municipality is situated. The developments in this municipality are found to be in contrast to the situation in the south of the country, particularly in the capital Helsinki, where competitive education markets have been encouraged to develop, creating more diversity and more competition between schools for students. This suggests that the various local areas can have their own policy priorities with contrasting policy aims, reflecting, in part, financial considerations and constraints which can have very different outcomes for equality of opportunity.

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Teaching Advocacy in Early Years Initial Teacher Education Programmes (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2009

Teacher education programmes in the United States and in England with early childhood certification usually include courses with topics such as early childhood theory and curriculum, child development, model programs, and history of early childhood education but less often include courses with content focused specifically on advocacy. This article interrogates the possibility of developing courses on advocacy for pre-service teachers to build a knowledge base on advocacy for parents, families and children and to develop competency in inter-personal, cross-cultural communication. Drawing on data from Liebovich's study on beliefs about advocacy of early childhood education students in the United States, the authors share pre-service teachers' narratives about advocacy, discuss the process of moving from advocacy awareness to empowerment, and propose content for a university level course on advocacy in England and the United States. Using a feminist theoretical perspective, this study critiques teacher education programs and how student identity as advocates is rarely nurtured. The authors demonstrate how pre-service teachers reflect about the role teacher's play working with, informing, and empowering families to truly become collaborative partners in the education of their children.

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Failure in Education (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2009

In this article, it is argued that Kurt Hahn felt that it was important for children to experience 'failure' at times and to learn how to cope with it. If this is no longer desirable in the classroom, it ought to be possible to encourage children to be adventurous and 'take risks' in a wide range of Outward Bound activities.

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Just a Few Giggles? Teachers and the Howler (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2009

In this article the author considers some aspects of the egregious error or 'howler'. What effects does the 'howler' have as a social practice? What questions are raised when a teacher shares beyond his or her own school a student's mistake for the amusement of others?

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Us and Them: a history of pupil grouping policies in England’s schools (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2009

The selection of children in England's schools for different types of education can be seen operating at three levels: between schools, within schools and within classes. This article deals mainly with the second - the allocation of pupils to classes - but it also refers to selection for secondary education and to the grouping of pupils within classes because decisions at all three levels are interlinked. It describes the ways in which pupils have been allocated to teaching groups since the 1860s, noting relevant sections of government reports and white papers, the arguments made by educationists, and the findings of research projects.

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The Privatisation of Education (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2009

This article looks at one of the dominant themes of English education over the past twenty years. It examines the various ways in which privatisation has affected schools and schooling since the early 1980s. It may no longer be possible to indulge in a blanket defence of the public sector; but we do at least have to recognise that privatisation in general and the spread of Academies in particular pose a very real threat to the values and principles underpinning 'a national system, locally administered'.

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Crunch Time for the Diplomas: will they survive? (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2009

This article looks at the introduction of the diplomas as part of the 14-19 reforms in England. It questions whether they can survive the low initial take-up from students, the lack of interest from key parts of the schools sector, and the confusing messages about what sort of qualification they are meant to be. It also asks whether the diplomas will be undermined by a misguided search for 'parity of esteem'.

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What Next in School Reform? (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2009

This article reviews the current state of education reform in the United Kingdom and uses the BBC film The Choir to explore alternative ways of improving the quality of learning and teaching in schools.

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Physical Education, the Policy Entrepreneur and Comprehensive Schooling: can they exist in harmony? (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2009

This article analyses the ways in which policy entrepreneurs have recently influenced physical education (PE) policy and practice in England and Scotland and discusses some of the implications this might have for students' learning opportunities within comprehensive schools in future years. And, while considerations of this sort raise a plethora of political, institutional and epistemological questions; the focus of this article is on the role of the policy entrepreneur in shaping policy discussion. This is a relatively new consideration in policy analysis terms, but a critical one in PE at present, given the rise of charitable foundations like the Youth Sport Trust and The Winning Scotland Foundation, and the influence these organisations have of government thinking and action plans.

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The CASE Statement on Faith Schools (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2009

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BOOK REVIEW (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2009

Learning What Matters to Children: an alphabet of what learners do (Diane Rich, Mary Jane Drummond & Cathy Myer)

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Editorial. The Story of FORUM, 1958-2008 (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2008

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Editorials from the first two issues of FORUM (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2008

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Messages from Tony Benn and Margaret Tulloch (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2008

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Symposium. Reflections on the 1988 Education Reform Act (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2008

For this 50th anniversary edition, FORUM invited a group of readers, many of whom were teaching 20 years ago, to reflect on the implications of the 1988 Education Reform Act from a personal viewpoint. The resulting symposium brings together a rich, unique and often candid collection of thoughts and reflections written from a wide variety of perspectives.

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A Rural Comprehensive Forty Years On (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2008

Drawing on a lengthy link with a particular school together with wider experience of work in the secondary sector, an argument is made for supporting all-ability, neighbourhood schools with strong community links. Rather than the endless centrally imposed tinkering as each new governmental regime produces its' latest 'big idea'; it is important to recognise that the development of schools should be a steady, organic process. Clearly given the great differences in catchment areas support must reflect need but the principle of neighbourhood community schooling should be paramount.

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Revisiting Teachers as Learners (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2008

This article revisits the concept of teachers as learners within the context of radical changes that have taken place within the education system in England over the past 25 years. The concept of professional courage is discussed and examined in relation to questions and issues raised by Paulo Freire in a series of letters to teachers (1997). Further questions are raised about professional courage in order to provide a basis for a dialogue concerning this critical yet unremarked characteristic of outstanding teachers and learners.

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Her last two Editorials for FORUM (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2008

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An extract from Bending the Rules (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2008

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The National Curriculum Since 1988: panacea or poisoned chalice? (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2008

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The UK National Curriculum: an historical perspective (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2008

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Education and Social Mobility (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2008

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The Birth of a School Academy in North Norwich: a case study (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2008

This article raises the question, 'Is the rapid expansion of the school Academies programme consistent with the Government's policy of enabling socially disadvantaged local communities to participate in making decisions that shape the quality of their lives?'

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Lifting the Lid and Mucking about with Minds: the example and challenge of Room 13 (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2008

Nicholas Serota calls Room 13 'the most important model for artistic teaching in school that we have in the UK.' This article describes and considers aspects of the Room 13 initiative. Begun more than a decade ago in Scotland and now spreading internationally, Room 13 treats pupils as artists and business-people. By working alongside adult professional artists-in-residence, pupils grow as artists and improve their visual literacy while taking charge of all aspects of the Room's management and devising ways to meet its running-costs. Impelled by pupils, Room 13 provides a venue where flourish vital elements of education which current state policy represses or neglects.

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In Praise of Wasting Time in Education: some lessons from the Romantics (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2008

Far too much curriculum time in primary schools is overly regulated and assessment driven, with the result that many children attending them are either bored or made to feel anxious. The antidote to this tendency is for teachers to rediscover the value of deregulated ('wasted') curriculum time via a renewed commitment to the value of play, fostered by an initial acquaintance with Romantic conceptions of childhood.

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Transgendered Children in Schools: a critical review of Homophobic Bullying: safe to learn – embedding anti-bullying work in schools (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2008

The author argues that the interests of transgendered children are being ignored by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and that the publication of guidance on homophobic bullying only serves to highlight deficiencies in the way these children are excluded within the education system.

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Inclusion or Selection? The 14+ Education and Training Reforms (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2008

This article provides a chronologically presented overview of policy reforms designed to enhance skill levels via education and training for school-age learners attending post-compulsory education institutions. It is argued that the catalyst for the creation of vocational diplomas is economic rather than educationally based, arising from the Government's perception of the need to improve productivity and flexibility within the United Kingdom workforce. Consideration is given as to whether the reforms enhance inclusive practice or represent a divisive curriculum, young people being partially excluded from the National Curriculum to study vocational diplomas, and invites comment as to whether this represents a covert return to a selective grammar/secondary modern school model. Arrangements for information sharing between schools and colleges presently delivering vocational qualifications and the support available for young special educational needs learners is investigated via a small-scale study of 15 further education colleges and found to be largely inadequate. Further education lecturing staff attitudes suggest they are largely positive about the possibilities the new arrangements can bring to young people's lives but are concerned as to the lack of staff development they have received.

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Global Learning in a Changing and Unpredictable World (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2008

This article asserts that the changing nature of present-day society has significant implications for education. However, it questions the extent to which the current educational 'diet' provided to the majority of young learners is fit for purpose, i.e. how far it is preparing them to survive and thrive in, and contribute to, an increasingly globalised society. The article explores some of the features of a fit for purpose education and the possibility that the domination of the curriculum by core subject areas or core skills and the resulting marginalisation of other essential elements may not be meeting the educational needs of young people who, after all, will be living in a society that many of us can barely envisage. Future citizens will require, and have a right to, Global Learning - an educational experience that is fit for purpose.

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NEWS REPORT Anti-academy Group in Barrow (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2008

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BOOK REVIEW (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2008

The Education Debate (Stephen J. Ball), reviewed by Clive Griggs

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Smaller Schools: a conflict of aims and purposes? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2008

This article tracks recent developments in the debate about secondary school size. It looks at the growth of the small schools movement in the United States and at initiatives currently underway in the United Kingdom. The article explores various strategies for reconfiguring secondary schools into smaller learning communities or 'schools within schools' and argues that the appeal of smaller learning communities in schools springs from very different value positions which need to be clearly articulated and publicly debated.

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Envy of a Bigger One: moving beyond phoney debates on school size (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2008

In this article Geoff Barton argues that the debate about large versus small schools is a largely phoney one that misses the essential point about the quality of provision. Using Michael Barber's international comparisons, he suggests that our focus should be on creating the conditions for teachers to teach as well as they can, and proposes that a streamlined staffing structure would help to regain this focus. He says that large schools are best placed to lead this change rather than fighting rearguard campaigns in the big versus small debate.

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School Structures: transforming urban complex schools into better learning communities (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2008

This article, which forms part of the policy booklet Lessons from the Front written by participants and Ambassadors of the Teach First scheme, argues that educational outcomes are often adversely affected by the size and structure of many urban complex schools. Rather than multiplying the efforts of teachers, too often the organisational model of these schools works against them, militating against the development of effective teacher-student relationships. For many teachers, the fruits of their efforts are 'merely' that the world does not fall down around their ears: not too many fights occur, expulsions are kept to a minimum and there are just enough GCSEs at A*-C. Clearly this is not good enough. The article considers how organisational structures in urban complex schools can work to multiply teachers' efforts, creating learning communities that foster more positive educational outcomes.

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From Comprehensive High Schools to Small Learning Communities: accomplishments and challenges (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2008

This article describes progress made in organizing US high schools into small learning communities, a practice spurred by the recognition that many of America's large comprehensive high schools had become impersonal and alienating. Small learning community reforms show a pattern of sustained growth over the last four decades but also frequently fail to achieve instructional improvements. The challenge in making instructional improvements is to pursue sound instructional strategies which small scale uniquely positions teachers to carry out, and to make shifts in district policy and practice which currently pose barriers to adopting such strategies.

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Why are School Subjects Important? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2008

The purpose of this article is to contribute to the contemporary debate by supporting school subjects. The article explores the technicist manner in which teachers' work is now configured and highlights ways in which competitive, output-led models and tick-list approaches have reified schools as qualification factories. Arguing for a deeper understanding of subject disciplines in the school curriculum, the author critiques contemporary approaches to the secondary curriculum planning and organisation and shows ways in which important debates about what is taught are being marginalised. The article points to the intellectual vacuum that can lie at the heart of practical curriculum making when subjects no longer take a leading part. It concludes that teachers' capacity to think synoptically about a subject is essential for the effective teaching of integrated themes or topics and that excellent, innovative teaching of subject disciplines is vital in twenty-first century schools.

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Does Size Matter? A Primary Perspective (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2008

This article discusses some of the arguments and values underlying the issue 'Does size matter?' Using findings from inspection evidence (his own and others') the author explores possible answers to the question as it applies to primary education in England. He concludes that in determining whether 'size matters' evidence has to be considered and weighed in relation to values. He provides his own evaluation.

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If You Go down to the Woods Today …: developing a whole-school culture where it is safe to take risks (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2008

Children have much to learn from the natural environment and from working in partnership with each other. This article explores the real-life challenges of encouraging creative adventurous play within the perceived confines of the primary curriculum. The author shares the story of a whole-school learning adventure and aims to remind us of the importance of values such as trust, co-agency and freedom.

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Thugs, Hooligans and Snotty Noses: the implications of leading and managing an all-age school (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2008

While there has been a tradition of all-age schooling within the private sector it has not, until recently, been typical in state schools. However, there appears to be a growing trend in which all-age schools, i.e. schools that comprise multiple phases (usually primary and secondary) are becoming more popular. This article summarises the main findings of research undertaken by the author into the implications for leading and managing all-age schools and suggests ideas for future research.

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Trainspotting: leadership at a critical junction (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2008

This article argues that education leaders in this country, and indeed leaders of other public services, are facing life-changing decisions. The way ahead is full of possibilities and pitfalls. The article employs the metaphor of a railway journey to explore these. In particular it considers the implications for leaders in terms of how they prepare for, and display, leadership in the current complex and seemingly contradictory policy climate.

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Building Schools for the Future: setting the hares running (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2008

This article looks at the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme and its stated intention to 'transform learning' from the perspective of the author's involvement as an architect/facilitator. Reflecting on his experiences, he focuses on the possibilities of the programme as a learning and change process, rather than as simply a building-focused programme. He explores some of the important themes which need to be addressed and looks at the conceptual/theoretical framework possibly most useful to make sense of the process. Finally, he looks at some of the implications for the design and facilitation of a BSF programme, and the physical and organisational design of a school to support this process.

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The Era of Centralisation: the 1988 Education Reform Act and its consequences (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2008

In a FORUM article published in 2005 (Volume 47, Nos 2 & 3) Terry Wrigley argued that 'Another school is possible'. The article prompted Trevor Fisher to respond explaining why, in his view, the centralising thrust of the 1988 Education Reform Act, the shift in power relationships, the politicisation of education over the past two decades and politicians' rigid control over education policy and processes, make the reality of a radical alternative to the current regime increasingly difficult. The author charts developments since the 1988 Act and calls for a Royal Commission to undertake a root-and-branch investigation into the politicisation of education.

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Steve Sinnott, 1951-2008. Tributes from Clyde Chitty and Richard Garner (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2008

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BOOK REVIEWS (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2008

Children Writing Stories (Michael Armstrong), reviewed by Jenifer Smith and Clare Kelly, pages 269-275

Fair Enough? School Admissions: the next steps (compiled by Comprehensive Future) reviewed by Patrick Yarker

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Editorial. School Size: deepening the debate (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2008

Like following life thro' creatures you dissect

You lose it in the moment you detect

Alexander Pope, Moral Essays

It is unlikely that anyone reading this issue of FORUM will not have a view about school size. Recent press coverage might suggest that this is a new debate. However, it comes as no surprise that the issue was well aired in an edition of FORUM published over 30 years ago. In an article headlined 'In Defence of Large Schools', Clyde Chitty, then second deputy head of a comprehensive school in south-east London, argued that 'our current preoccupation with the size of school issue is little more than thinly-disguised political propaganda, aimed at discrediting the comprehensive reform ... If big schools can be shown to be bad, ipso facto comprehensive schools are bad'.

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Big or Small: does the size of a secondary school matter? (FORUM 2)

June 1, 2008

The relationship between the size of a school and various education outcomes continues to interest parents, campaigners and politicians. This article summarises some of the arguments made in relation to the importance of school size and explores the results of a systematic review of 31 research studies on the effects of secondary school size. Overall, the review found that directions and patterns of effect vary for different outcomes. The results of the review suggested that there was little empirical evidence to justify policies aimed at changing or mandating particular school sizes. However, given the continuing interest in the issue and indications that more research is becoming available, the author suggests that continuing rigorous systematic evaluation is needed to explore the association between school size and outcomes.

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Editorial. A Government Totally Adrift (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2008

It is obviously far too early to provide a detailed assessment of the new Brown administration's attitude towards education and social policy. As I write this, the New Labour Government is, in fact in the middle of a period of profound crisis, due largely to the whole issue of illegal financial donations to the Labour Party by proxy. But it is important to emphasise that, notwithstanding all the problems of the past few weeks, the real difficulty with the new Government is tied up with Gordon Brown's own lack of consistency and with the curious and indeed fatal contradictions at the heart of the Brown project. So often Brown says one thing to one audience and something else to another; and this approach leads inevitably to confusion and paralysis.

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Further Reflections on the Great City Academy Fraud (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2008

Academy sponsors have generally behaved with great arrogance, knowing that they enjoyed the enthusiastic support of Tony Blair's Government. And this has been particularly true of Catholic and evangelical sponsors, who believed that Blair's premiership was the best chance they would ever have of bringing about a seismic shift of power in schools from the state to the churches. Yet it seems clear that the academy project is not working out as its supporters originally intended, and it might well be that Gordon Brown's new Government will feel obliged to jettison large parts of the original scheme.

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Blair’s academies: the story so far (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2008

Of all Tony Blair's education policies during his decade as prime minister, one of the most controversial was his plan to create a network of academies - effectively, private schools funded by the taxpayer. This piece explores the origins of the policy and recounts the widespread concerns and criticisms with which it has been beset.

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The School Academies Programme: a new direction or total abandonment? (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2008

The concept of City Academies owes much to the plan for a network of City Technology Colleges announced by Conservative Education Secretary Kenneth Baker in 1986. This article argues that all this can be viewed as part of the inroad of business into state education, with private sponsorship seen by government as the magical solution to the 'problems' faced by state schools. Moreover, recent additions to the network of Academies appear to share the ethos of the early CTCs in specialising in business and enterprise and other vocational specialisms. In response to some of the criticisms that Academies have received, some commentators are now arguing for a new direction for these schools and for a model which emphasises local co-operation and social cohesion. But it can be argued that all this falls far short of what is really needed: a long-term strategy for restoring Academies to the maintained sector and for making them accountable to the communities they serve.

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Academies in Action: case studies from Camden and Pimlico, 2007 (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2008

Both main UK political parties lend enthusiastic public support to academies, in the name of supporting the nation's poorest pupils. But Gordon Brown's Labour is, in reality, unsure about this undemocratic model while the Tories may well in the future exploit academy 'independence' for retrograde ends. Two contemporary case studies from London, in Camden and Pimlico, show the inherent dangers of this controversial national programme; they represent a blow to a truly modernised comprehensive model and give too much power to private interests. The private sector is keen to get involved for its own, often defensive, reasons. Meanwhile, Brown's Government has little time left to make truly substantive changes to our education system that will really benefit those that need it most.

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Academies: a breakthrough or yet more spin? (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2008

In this article the General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers outlines the reasons why the Union opposes Academies, and gives an overview of the changes in the relationship between local authorities and Academies. The NUT recognises that the change of government presents an opportunity for a change of direction and welcomes reports that a study has been commissioned. An analysis of recent evidence on Academies, including that of the influential House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts, is followed by the NUT's views of the what the next steps should be on Academies and on supporting schools in challenging circumstances.

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How Academies Threaten the Comprehensive Curriculum (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2008

The Freedom of Information Act was used over a three-year period to investigate the curriculum of state schools and academies. The resulting data has shown that spectacular apparent school improvement, in terms of five or more A*-C GCSE /GNVQ passes has been largely brought about by the substitution of mainstream curriculum subjects by much easier vocational alternatives with disproportionate and unjustifiable equivalence to GCSE. Despite academies being exempt from FOI, and their refusal, supported by DCSF, to reveal their subject examination results, strong evidence has been found in individual cases of an extreme use of this strategy to boost headline results and league table performance. Examples are given of worryingly degraded curriculum opportunities in a number of academies for which data has been indirectly obtained, giving rise to concerns that some or even all pupils in some of these schools are being denied a right to a broad and balanced educational experience appropriate to full participatory citizenship in a modern European democracy. Private control of academies is revealed as likely to give rise to the differentiation of curriculum pathways with academic or vocational outcomes designed to meet the needs of the business interests of the sponsor. Questions are raised over the ability of academies to staff a full range of subjects at GCSE and sixth form level with serious consequences for progression to higher education especially for those pupils drafted at an early age into vocational pathways.

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Haberdashers’ Aske’s: the campaign against academies in Lewisham (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2008

The National Union of Teachers' 2007 pamphlet Academies - Looking Beyond the Spin: why the NUT calls for a different approach lists six reasons why the NUT opposes Academies, schools run by private sponsors using public money. In this article, the Secretary of the Lewisham NUT presents evidence to show how the Academies operated by the Haberdashers' Company in Lewisham, South London, carry out each of these six threats to education.

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Hey! Bankers! Leave Those Kids Alone: the fight to save Islington Green School (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2008

The author traces the history of the campaign to stop Islington Green School being closed and turned into an academy specialising in business and financial services. Although the campaign, after a number of successes now looks as if it might fail in its immediate objective, the author argues that the battle was still worth fighting because of the contribution it has made to the growing anti-academies movement in England.

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Why a Steiner Academy? (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2008

This article examines the curious position of the Academy model in the English school system and how a potential Hereford Steiner Waldorf Academy might figure in this. It sketches the background to the Steiner movement in the UK and goes on to set out the key aspirations and concerns of Steiner educators regarding an Academy. The article provides a Steiner Waldorf rationale for seeking Academy status and suggests a positive critique beyond the piecemeal 'agenda' that appears to drive current education policy in this area.

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The Devon NUT Campaign Against Trust Schools (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2008

When the Devon County Council announced that six secondary schools in the South Devon area were to become 'Pathfinder Schools' for trust status, the Devon National Union of Teachers set about organising a campaign to defend the county's comprehensive schools. This campaign has proved successful in the case of Tavistock College, causing other schools to review their position, but the NUT is not allowing itself to be complacent, and recognises that the very concept of community comprehensive schools is under threat from Gordon Brown's Government.

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Reforming Teachers and Uncompromising ‘Standards’: implications for social justice in schools (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2008

As a major consumer of public funds education has become one of the most highly surveilled and accountable professions in the United Kingdom. In this article the authors chart the changes and reforms to teacher training and in particular the impact of the 'standards' agenda on the teaching profession. They analyse the impact that the Teacher Development Agency (formally the Teacher Training Agency) and the Every Child Matters agenda has had on the promotion of an agenda for social justice and equality in schools.

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Personalised Corruption: testing, cheating and teacher-integrity (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2008

The government's plans for students in KS2 and KS3 to be 'tested when ready' mark an attempt further to embed instrumentalist views of education. 'Testing-when-ready' is seen as an intensification of the harmful regime of testing, targets and League Tables which Mansell (2007) labels 'hyper-accountability'. Highlighting aspects of Mansell's book together with recent research into teacher-'cheating' and resistance to high stakes testing in the USA, this article concludes with a call for teachers here to safeguard their willingness to consider and understand the learning which tests don't see.

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The 2007 Revised Standards for Qualified Teacher Status: doubts, challenges and opportunities (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2008

September 2007 saw the introduction of the new 'Q' standards for the award of Qualified Teacher Status. Drawing on a meeting of 140 primary and secondary school ITT tutors, this article sets out to record and discuss the teachers' initial reactions to these new standards a few weeks before their introduction. The article shows classroom teachers have significant concerns about a significant minority of the standards and this indicates that HEIs and other ITT providers now have a challenging management of change agenda.

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Not National but Local and Global (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2008

The author describes the theory and practice of a project that took place in Summer 2007 in four classes within three inner city primary schools, that brought together History, Geography and Global citizenship within a progressive educational framework.

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BOOK REVIEWS (FORUM 1)

March 1, 2008

The Great City Academy Fraud (Francis Beckett), reviewed by Clive Griggs

The Rise and Rise of Meritocracy (Geoff Dench, Ed.), reviewed by Clyde Chitty

Education by Numbers: the tyranny of testing (Warwick Mansell), reviewed by Patrick Yarker

Eugenics, Race and Intelligence in Education (Clyde Chitty), reviewed by Lucy Russell

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Editorial: the Blair legacy (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2007

Whether we concentrate on foreign or domestic issues, the Blair legacy is a decidedly mixed one, and obviously open to a number of varying individual interpretations; that said, I feel able to state with some degree of confidence that much of it will not have earned the endorsement of FORUM readers and supporters.

An editorial which appeared in the Observer on 29 April 2007 listed some of the positive features of the past decade, thereby justifying the heading of the piece, which proclaimed, 'after 10 years, Blair has made Britain a better place'. According to the Observer, Blair's solid achievements included: the minimum wage; free nursery care; tens of thousands more teachers, doctors and nurses - with higher wages; the working families' tax credit; the right to increased maternity and paternity leave; a statutory right to flexible working hours; the Disability Rights Commission; the Freedom of Information Act; civil partnerships and the repeal of Section 28; the restoration of self-government for London; devolution for Scotland and Wales; the Human Rights Act; peace in Northern Ireland. In the view of the Observer, 'Mr Blair's Government has given millions of people unprecedented freedom to live as they choose and has also given them the wealth and security to do it'.

Yet there is a much bleaker side to the story of the Blair years. New Labour has shown itself to be as besotted with the rich and the successful as were the Conservative administrations which preceded it. Public sector workers have had their morale constantly undermined by a government that has insisted on portraying them as obstacles on the path to modernisation. In the Health Service, reforms have been confusing and often plain contradictory - first dismantling and then reinstating the internal market. Indeed, there are so many areas where New Labour has been determined to adopt and expand the Conservatives' privatising agenda. According to the staunch Blairite John Hutton, former Work and Pensions Secretary, speaking recently on the BBC Radio Four Today programme, Tony Blair's greatest achievement was in ensuring that 'the marketisation of the public services is now built into the DNA of public service provision'.

Where education is concerned, there is remarkably little to applaud. Right from the outset, Blair's Government seemed determined to carry forward most of the Conservative Party's education agenda, even if some of the language used by ministers was calculated to hide the true extent of this seamless continuity. Back in 1999, I edited with John Dunford, now General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, a collection of essays entitled State Schools: New Labour and the Conservative legacy. We asked Guardian and Times Educational Supplement (TES) cartoonist Martin Rowson to provide a suitable drawing for the cover of the book, and he came up with a brilliant cartoon which seemed to neatly summarise the essential message of the book's contributors. A gowned and mortar-boarded head teacher (unmistakably Margaret Thatcher) is shown handing a prize to a beaming, blazered student (unmistakably Tony Blair). The prize is obviously a neat scroll of Mrs Thatcher's education policies.

At the end of June this year, former Education Secretary Estelle Morris wrote an extraordinarily blinkered and ill-informed article for Education Guardian (26 June 2007), with the headline 'Don't forget what Blair has achieved', in which she said she had no doubt that 'history will record Tony Blair's contribution to education as one of the most significant of any of our prime ministers'. She went on with a paean of praise to Blair's qualities and achievements:

his personal drive, commitment and leadership; the time he gave to education; the number of school visits he made and educationists he met - all this must be unmatched by any of his predecessors. ... He has always shown determination and skill in driving through the issues he thought were important, and he led a government that has delivered the biggest ever sustained increase in funding.

What Ms Morris failed to highlight in this articles was the divisive nature of Blair's education policies, with education being seen as a market commodity driven by consumer demands, and parental choice of schools being facilitated by greater teacher accountability and the publication of league tables of test and examination performance.

There can surely be no denying that Blair was a remarkable politician and actor with an ability (on most occasions) to convince a supine audience that their concerns were also his. With no roots in the Labour movement, he managed to survive for over a decade while actively disliking the party he was elected to lead in 1994. The adoption of the label 'New Labour' was no mere cosmetic tinkering; it represented a complete break with the values and principles that the Labour Party had once upheld. Those values could hardly have been described as truly radical or socialist; but there had been some sense of a collectivist vision and a commitment, however mealy-mouthed, to the idea of greater social equality and to the gradual amelioration of the worst excesses of free-market capitalism. Under Blair, the gap between the rich and the poor actually widened, with most ministers clinging to the belief, popular with all greedy entrepreneurs, that the prosperity of the few must eventually lead to the well-being of the many.

There are those - and I'm thinking here principally of Guardian columnists Jackie Ashley and Polly Toynbee, who are often viewed as Gordon Brown's representatives on earth - who have argued that everything would change for the better under the new Prime Minister. Yet there have so far been few positive signs of a radical break with the past and certainly, where education is concerned, there is little cause for optimism. Gordon Brown is no longer committed to a truly comprehensive system of secondary schools; and, in his final Mansion House Speech as Chancellor, he said he shared Blair's vision of securing 400 city academies by the year 2010. He also said that 'we need a renewed focus on setting by ability in key subjects as the norm in all our secondary schools'.

The Executive of the Campaign for State Education (CASE) has recently sent an open letter to Gordon Brown (see CASE Notes, Issue 20, July 2007) arguing that, in recent years, 'choice' has become a means of selection, 'diversity' a route to ethnic, religious and class segregation, and PFI (Private Finance Initiative) a means of privatisation of public assets involving a major loss of local accountability. CASE is particularly concerned about the expansion of the academies programme - the subject of a forthcoming special number of FORUM in the spring of 2008. In the words of the open letter, 'this programme, driven as it is by the inexplicable belief that religious zealots or unaccountable private corporations are more worthy custodians of a child's well-being than that child's own local community and the people they elect to run their local affairs, exemplifies much of the worst in state education today'.

I must admit I have little optimism that Gordon Brown will start listening to the views of progressive educationists; but that doesn't mean we must stop campaigning for a state education system that will benefit all our children.

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Faith Schools are Still a Recipe for Social Disaster (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2007

This article argues that the creation of a range of separate religious schools can prevent integration and encourage separation. It might well be that in fifty years' time, people will look back at this moment and blame us for exacerbating the social fragmentation that characterises modern Britain.

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Never Mind the Evidence: Blair’s obsession with faith schools (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2007

In this article the author describes how the Blair governments have sought to increase the number of schools controlled by churches and other religious groups despite a mass of evidence about the dangers of faith-based education and in the face of widespread professional, political and public concerns.

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The Malign Effects of Faith Schools (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2007

The author argues that faith schools serve to exacerbate existing divisions in society and are therefore a threat to social cohesion. In many parts of Britain where segregation is already a reality, 'faith' has now become another word for 'race'. Ethnic groups are not evenly spread between the religions, creating a situation where religion is used as a 'proxy' for ethnicity. At the same time, there is the distinct possibility that some faith schools (and academies sponsored by faith groups) will use their power to influence the curriculum to undermine the values of a liberal, tolerant and enlightened society.

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Socialists and Religious Schools (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2007

This article argues that the issue of religious control of schools is becoming more and more important with every day that passes. We have a situation where one-third of our state schools are faith schools, and the New Labour Government seems intent on increasing their number. It is the author's contention that the state should not be allowed to fund and privilege religious schools, and that the Left should not be mealy-mouthed in campaigning for a fully secular education system.

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Keeping the Faith (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2007

This article argues that we live in a culturally, politically and religiously diverse society and that faith schools are the product, rather than the cause, of this diversity. As an easy target for those with fears about social cohesion, faith schools are being ‘scapegoated’.

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Every Child Matters: the challenge of gender, religion and multiculturalism (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2007

This article makes use of the findings of a small pilot study which investigated the management and nature of multiculturalism in three secondary schools in London. In the course of the investigation, two major themes emerged: the 'collapse' of anti-racism and multiculturalism into 'multi-faithism'; and the impact of the 'over-accommodation' of religious identity on the rights of minority ethnic girls.

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Faith Schools: minorities, boundaries, representation and control (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2007

This article explores the implications of funding increasing numbers of religious schools on the children of minority communities. It argues that handing responsibility for schooling to religious bodies undermines transparency, democracy and accountability in educational provision. Far from promoting 'inclusion' as the Government claims, increasing the number of religious schools atomises and isolates communities, stifles debate and marginalises complex expressions of identity.

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Hermetically Sealed Learning: my experience of Jewish schools (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2007

This article looks at the cultural impact of faith schools on their pupils in terms of what it teaches them about their own identity, and what it fails to teach them about the identities of people whom they live among in the wider society. On the basis of personal experience it attempts to tease out the assumptions on which such an education is based and the limitations it places on those who pass through this kind of system.

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Coping with Classroom Homophobia (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2007

In this article, a version of which first appeared in the February 2007 number of Gay Times, gay rapper Marcos Brito describes his experiences of dealing with a general climate of homophobia at his secondary school in Essex. He argues that positive affirmations of lesbian, gay and bisexual people should be promoted as part of the school curriculum.

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Flightlines: exploring early readers for children about the refugee experience (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2007

Much has been written about children's literature that deals with war, and specifically the Holocaust, but very little has been said about the portrayal of the refugee experience in children's books, which is now developing as a significant genre of its own. The rapid growth in these books, which are aimed at all ages, has not been documented separately and yet there are compelling messages that derive from them about citizenship, tolerance, respect and integration, as well as the enduring nature of the human spirit in the face of terrible circumstances. This article focuses particularly on books about the refugee experience written for the younger reader, and their suitability for the age group they are aimed at.

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Learning for Labour: specialist diplomas and 14-19 education (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2007

The 2006 Education Act provided an entitlement for all 14 year-olds to take a specialist diploma from 2013. Despite concerns of many educationalists and politicians, the first diplomas will begin in September 2008. New Labour claims that the diplomas are innovative and challenging; however, this article argues that they exhibit many of the weaknesses and contradictions of existing vocational qualifications, will accentuate divisions and represent a further move away from a comprehensive curriculum. The article also argues, however, that in addition to opposing the introduction of the diplomas, reformers must rethink approaches towards vocational learning in schools.

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Seizing the Moment: improving curriculum and pedagogy prospects for physical education in Scotland (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2007

This article points out that recent government pronouncements clearly envisage an enhanced status for the provision of physical education in schools in Scotland. This being the case, it is essential that policy makers, researchers and teachers examine many of the contested aims and conflicting agendas now in existence so that outcomes can match investment.

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Denial and Distortion of Instrumental and Intrinsic Value in the Teaching of Science and English: its impact upon fifteen Year 10 teachers (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2007

This article focuses on the impact of schooling on teachers through an exploration of the teaching of Science and English to Year 10 pupils in a metropolitan area in the north of England. Data was collected from 15 case studies through semi-structured interviews with the teacher, a lesson observation, and a post-observation interview with a sample of pupils. The analysis revealed a denial of intrinsic value, and the distortion of instrumental value contributing to the mortification of the teachers' substantial self. Denial, distortion and mortification are not found in all the case studies, but to a significant extent in 11 of these. The four exceptions were all teachers of English. If teaching is to be an attractive occupation and retention of staff is to be improved, particularly for science teachers, then issues of intrinsic and instrumental value need to be addressed along with the debilitating effects of mortification.

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Black Pupils in a White Landscape: reclaiming the countryside for enriched learning experiences (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2007

This article focuses on the accepted identity of the countryside as a hegemonic, idyllic and stable environment. Making use of the experiences of a group of 25 15-year-old London students on a recent residential trip to the Dorset coast, it seeks to understand whether or not the countryside is seen as a 'welcoming place' for inner-city children.

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Beyond Behavioural Management Strategies: an alternative viewpoint from the pupil perspective (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2007

The article begins by discussing the literature as it relates to the perceived effectiveness of behavioural management approaches, as well as the author's experiences of implementing a behavioural approach. The second part highlights an alternative viewpoint, as derived from an empirical study, as it relates to the pupil perspective of effective teaching and learning environments.

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DOCUMENT. Evidence to the Committee of Enquiry into Academy Schools (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2007

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LETTER. The Disadvantages of Faith-based Academies and Trusts: schooling – don’t be seduced by promises (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2007

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BOOK REVIEWS (FORUM 3)

September 1, 2007

Faith Schools: consensus or conflict? (Roy Gardner, Jo Cairns & Denis Lawton, Eds), reviewed by Derek Gillard, 349

Education plc: understanding private sector participation in public sector education (Stephen J. Ball), reviewed by Clive Griggs, 353

A Comprehensive Future: quality and equality for all our children (Melissa Benn & Fiona Millar), reviewed by Patrick Yarker, 355

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Editorial (FORUM 1 & 2)

March 1, 2007

In August 1963 the UK's Minister of Education, Sir Edward Boyle, asked the Central Advisory Council for Education (England) 'to consider primary education in all its aspects and the transition to secondary education' (Central Advisory Council for Education, 1967, p. iii). The Council, chaired by Bridget Plowden, presented its report to Anthony Crosland, Secretary of State for Education and Science, in October 1966, and the Plowden Report Children and their Primary Schools was published, 40 years ago this year, in 1967. A similar report was produced for Wales.

'At the heart of the educational process lies the child'. That much-quoted opening sentence from chapter 2 set the tone of the report. Child-centredness and learning by discovery were the two key messages which most people took from Plowden. Many regarded them as radical new ideas. Some viewed them as dangerously subversive.

Yet, as Bridget Plowden herself wrote (in 1987), 'we did not invent anything new' (p. 120). The report certainly 'endorsed the trend towards individual and active learning' and 'learning by acquaintance' and hoped that many more schools would be influenced by it. Yet it also warned 'we certainly do not deny the value of learning 'by description' or the need for the practice of skills and consolidation of knowledge' (p. 120).

Hadow had promoted these ideas 30 years earlier, but they go back much further than that. Indeed, as Aubrey Nunes (n.d.) points out, 'the idea of learning by doing is a good one. It has a long and ancient history'. He traces it back to Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and argues that it resurfaced in the Renaissance in The Scholemaster by Elizabeth I's teacher, Roger Ascham (1515-1568).

But this long and honourable ancestry didn't prevent the backlash against Plowden. In the years after its publication it was blamed for just about everything from an infant's poor spelling to national economic failure, and its message about the centrality of the child in the educational enterprise was misrepresented by traditionalists and ignored by politicians. The 'Black Papers' were followed by Jim Callaghan's Ruskin speech and the 'Great Debate'. Then, from 1979, Margaret Thatcher's administrations set about creating a 'schools crisis' in preparation for their ruthless marketisation of education.

A leader in the Times Educational Supplement (TES) (6 March 1987) summed up the situation well. 'The Plowden Report has been misquoted, misunderstood, over-simplified, torn to shreds by academics and used by a few schools to justify some fairly mindless practice'. Twenty years on, it said, 'primary teachers are beset by criticism, renewed accusations (unsupported by evidence) of falling standards in basic skills, and calls for a national curriculum and 'benchmarks' at 7 and 11'.

We didn't just get benchmarks. The 1988 Education Reform Act imposed a sterile, content-based National Curriculum, a grotesquely complicated regime of tick boxes and tests, and a system of school league tables which replaced cooperation with competition. And just when we all thought things could only get better, along came Tony Blair's New Labour administrations. With their Literacy and Numeracy Strategies, they've gone even further than the Tories, telling teachers not only what to teach but how to teach it.

So where are we now, 40 years on? And, perhaps even more importantly, where are we going? This issue of Forum tries to answer these questions. In doing so, it unashamedly celebrates Plowden as the great, humane statement about the possibilities of primary education which it undoubtedly was.

It begins by looking back to the precursors of Plowden - the Hadow Reports. It was, after all, Hadow's proposal, in 1926, for the division of schooling into two stages with the break at 11, which led to the creation of primary schools; and it was the Hadow Reports of 1931 and 1933 which set out a vision of the style of education the new schools should espouse.

Next, in pieces by Peter Cunningham, Paul Warwick, Brian Melling and Philip Gammage, it reviews the history of Plowden in the experience and consciousness of teachers. As Peter Cunningham says, the report 'hangs like a backdrop, setting the scene in which these teachers lived their professional lives'.

Then, it examines a range of Plowden-related issues in the light of events since the report was published. Mike Brogden argues that changes in the design of school buildings had little effect on what went on in them; Alicia James assesses Plowden's part in changing adult concepts of childhood; and Trevor Kerry asks if integration is a 'dirty word' or a 'golden key'. Michael Armstrong analyses the art work of three young American children; Mike Aylen argues that Plowden played an important role in promoting parental participation in primary schools; and Leslie Carrick reviews foreign language teaching from Plowden to the present. Elizabeth Wood argues that the concept of child-centred education has re-emerged within contemporary social policy initiatives; Michael Tidd looks at what happened to the middle schools which Plowden proposed; and George Smith, Teresa Smith and Tom Smith revisit Educational Priority Areas.

It brings the story up to date with Maurice Galton's analysis of the effects of New Labour's education policies on primary schools and their pupils, and with Diane Hofkins's review of her 20 years as assistant editor of the TES.

And finally, it looks to the future with Robin Alexander's piece about the new Primary Review, which he is leading. Supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and based at Cambridge University's Faculty of Education, the Review aims to be 'a wide-ranging and independent enquiry into the condition and future of primary education in England' (Primary Review website: see Links below). Given all that has happened in the 40 years since Plowden, the Review is timely and welcome.

The Review team is anxious to receive ideas and evidence, so if you get this copy of Forum in time, do visit the Primary Review website (see Links below) for details of how to contribute. The deadline for submissions is 1 April 2007.

It is easy - especially at my age! - to wallow in rose-tinted remembrances of the past. But looking back has its value, for it is only by knowing the past that we can understand the present, and only by understanding the present that we can hope to do better for our children in the future.

Maurice Kogan 10 April 1930-6 January 2007

As I finished writing the above editorial, I learned of the death of Maurice Kogan. He will be remembered for his many books and for his work at Brunel University. But for readers of Forum - and especially of this issue - he will best be remembered as the Secretary of the Plowden Committee, a job which enabled him to promote the importance of evidence-based educational research of value to both practitioners and theorists.

In May last year I wrote to Maurice to ask him if he would contribute an article to this issue. He replied: 'I'm glad to be asked but a bit overwhelmed with requests for productions that are not at the top of my own agenda - which includes contending with ill health. So I must beg to be excused. At 76 one is entitled to some rest!' After such a long and distinguished career, he is certainly entitled to that.

Anne Corbett's obituary of Maurice Kogan can be found on the Guardian website at:

http://education.guardian.co.uk/obituary/story/0,,1986788,00.html

DEREK GILLARD

References

Central Advisory Council for Education (1967) Children and their Primary Schools. The Plowden Report. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

Nunes, A. (n.d.) From Plato to Plowden. http://www.pigeonpostbox.co.uk/ppbmisc/others.php

Plowden, B. (1987) 'Plowden' Twenty Years On, Oxford Review of Education, 13(1), p. 119ff. http://www.dg.dial.pipex.com/documents/plowdenore09.shtml

Links

Derek Gillard's website (http://www.dg.dial.pipex.com) includes the full texts of all the Hadow Reports and the Plowden Report.

Primary Review website. http://www.primaryreview.org.uk

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Presaging Plowden: an introduction to the Hadow Reports (FORUM 1 & 2)

March 1, 2007

The author provides notes on the historical context and membership of the consultative committees chaired by Sir W.H. Hadow, summarises each of the six reports produced between 1923 and 1933, and assesses the extent to which they informed the development of education in England, noting that the Plowden Committee felt compelled to reiterate many of Hadow's recommendations.

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Plowden in History: popular and professional memory (FORUM 1 & 2)

March 1, 2007

The author reflects on the way that the Plowden Report is represented in the historical record. Simple narratives of education policy are inadequate to capture the Report's significance in a decade of cultural turmoil, and the professional contention that it generated. Historical accounts will vary according to the viewpoint of the historian, and we must have regard to oral as well as documentary evidence. Following the Plowden Report, subsequent researches in the primary classroom and changes in state education policy indicate its practical and symbolic importance, but the memories of teachers are sometimes more muted in their recall of its impact on their practice.

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Echoes of Plowden? Opportunities and Pressures Evident in Teachers’ Experience of Autonomy and Accountability in One School Community (FORUM 1 & 2)

March 1, 2007

In the light of some of the aspirations for education expressed in the Plowden Report, this short piece considers the experiences of teachers in a 'progressive' English independent school. There is a particular focus on what might loosely be termed job satisfaction. It is suggested that, whilst these teachers enjoy their work, they have professional concerns about externally imposed notions of accountability, about professional autonomy and about the significance of the school community - issues that seem linked and that will have resonance for many in the teaching profession.

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Plowden and Me: a personal memoir (FORUM 1 & 2)

March 1, 2007

The author argues that the Plowden Report, though rarely read, underpinned the work and careers of many primary school teachers. He relates his own experiences of teaching in schools and expresses his pleasure at having rediscovered Plowden through his work in a further education college Child Studies department.

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None So Blind: early childhood education and care – the connective tissue (FORUM 1 & 2)

March 1, 2007

The author makes sense of the story of his professional life through the eyes of several important writers and teachers on education and says that, for him, Bridget Plowden ranks alongside John Dewey, Friedrich Froebel, Ben Morris and A.S. Neill.

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Plowden and Primary School Buildings: a story of innovation without change (FORUM 1 & 2)

March 1, 2007

The Plowden Report encouraged the design of more compact and flexible school buildings to accommodate its vision of child-centred teaching. These schools came to be known as 'open plan'. By the late 1970s about 10% of schools were of open-plan design but researchers found serious weaknesses in the quality of their work. Plowden's ideals were not often to be found in practice in open-plan schools. Changes in teaching methodologies had not kept pace with innovation in school design and the rhetoric of child-centredness was not matched by the reality of the experience of many primary pupils. The explanations for this include the conservatism of teachers as well as the propensity to failure of centrally imposed ideas.

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Adult Concepts of Childhood: did Plowden make a difference? (FORUM 1 & 2)

March 1, 2007

The author reviews the concepts of childhood which underpinned traditional methods of teaching and assesses the extent to which these concepts have changed since the Plowden Report and the advent of child-centred education.

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Integration: dirty word or golden key? (FORUM 1 & 2)

March 1, 2007

This article examines the notion of integrated studies as a way of organising curriculum in schools. Drawing on the insights of educational philosophy, curriculum theory and learning theory it establishes the soundness of a theoretical case for integration. It examines what this view means for the art and science of teaching, and notes examples of successful integration in schools. The paper identifies the roots of integrated studies in the thinking of the Plowden Report and suggests that the approach is equally valid today.