An article examined findings from the third year of a longitudinal evaluation in England of Success for All (SFA), a comprehensive literacy program. It said that the results showed SFA schools to have a statistically significant positive school-level effect on standardized reading measures of word-level and decoding skills, and that there were directionally positive but non-significant school-level effects on measures of comprehension and fluency. The article considered the practical and policy implications, in the context of government policy.
Source: Louise Tracey, Bette Chambers, Robert Slavin, Pam Hanley, and Alan Cheung, 'Success for All in England: results from the third year of a national evaluation', Sage Open, July-September 2014
A report said that 76 per cent of United Kingdom children aged 5-14 said they knew 'how to play an instrument', compared with 41 per cent in 1999. However, it said that many children and young people did not have access to instrumental lessons and children from families in lower socio-economic groups were significantly disadvantaged compared with their peers from more affluent backgrounds. The report said that regional provision was variable, as were teachers' experiences, which varied widely depending on the sector of the education system in which they worked. The report made recommendations.
Source: Making Music, Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music
An article examined mechanisms of formal assessment for children at the age of 5 after their first year in school in England (the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile). It said that this type of statutory assessment was unusual, compared with the rest of the United Kingdom as well as with other countries. Drawing on two ethnographic case studies of classrooms of four- and five-year-old children in London, the article said that there were tensions between the construction of teachers' knowledge, their ambivalence regarding the numerical data they reported, and the use of the data for school accountability purposes. The article considered the implications of the data being produced by English schools.
Source: Alice Bradbury, 'Early childhood assessment: observation, teacher "knowledge" and the production of attainment data in early years settings', Comparative Education, Volume 50 Issue 3
A report examined how to promote enterprise in education. It made a range of recommendations across the educational spectrum, including: for the curriculum to teach, and to record extra-curricular activity related to, business skills; developing teachers' skills; and for greater contact between schools and businesses.
Source: David Young, Enterprise for All: The relevance of enterprise in education, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, TSO
A new book examined citizenship and community learning in schools.
Source: Ian Davies, Vanita Sundaram, Gillian Hampden-Thompson, Maria Tsouroufli, George Bramley, Tony Breslin, and Tony Thorpe, Creating Citizenship Communities: Education, young people and the role of schools, Palgrave Macmillan
A think-tank report examined the extent to which school inspectors' preferences influenced their judgements of English schools. It said that Ofsted's judgement of the 'quality of teaching' led to the persistence of an approved style and that there was considerable evidence of a continuing bias towards such 'Ofsted approved' child-led teaching methods. It called for the removal of the inspectorate's power to judge the quality of teaching, arguing that, since it mirrored the 'achievement of pupils' grade, it was largely redundant.
Source: Robert Peal, Playing the Game: The enduring influence of the preferred Ofsted teaching style, Civitas
A report examined post-16 mathematics provision in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and assessed how government policy might address a number of existing challenges in order to improve quantitative skills for higher education and employment.
Source: Josh Hillman, Mathematics After 16: The state of play, challenges and ways ahead, Nuffield Foundation
A report examined the need to improve mathematics and science education outcomes in the United Kingdom, both for general use and to improve capacity in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics sectors. The report discussed related policy and curriculum matters, including the recommendation that mathematics and science should be taught to age 18 through a baccalaureate-style framework that emphasized practical work and problem-solving.
Source: Vision for Science and Mathematics Education, Royal Society
A new book examined employer engagement in education in the United Kingdom, how it was delivered, and its differentiated impact on young people as they progressed through schooling and higher education into the labour market. The book also explored the ways in which education supported or constrained social mobility and, in particular, how employer engagement in education could have both positive and negative impacts upon social mobility.
Source: Anthony Mann, Julian Stanley, and Louise Archer (eds), Understanding Employer Engagement in Education: Theories and evidence, Routledge
The exams regulator began consultation on a proposed approach to setting and maintaining performance standards for new GCSE examinations in England, and the associated new grading system. The new examinations were scheduled to be introduced for students entering Year 10 (age 14) in September 2015. The consultation would close on 30 June 2014.
Source: Consultation on Setting the Grade Standards of new GCSEs in England, Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator
An article examined a partnership approach to careers information for young people that was developed by schools, local businesses, and public sector employers in Mansfield, a town in the East Midlands of England. It said that the organizations had provided a strategic careers programme, funded by the local secondary schools, based on what young people said they wanted and needed to know. The article described the programme.
Source: Jo Hutchinson and Berni Dickinson, 'Employers and schools: how Mansfield is building a world of work approach', Local Economy, Volume 29 Number 3
An article examined the findings of a systematic review that examined the effect of civic education on young people's levels of political engagement. It said there was little evidence that civic education affected voting or voter registration, and that it thus appeared to have 'failed' in its specified aim. The article said that the failure was attributable to the adoption of a mechanistic approach to policy that ignored sociological knowledge regarding structural barriers to participation and the effects of new forms of participation.
Source: Nathan Manning and Kathy Edwards, 'Why has civic education failed to increase young people's political participation?', Sociological Research Online, Volume 19 Issue 1
A report proposed a range of policy measures to help build 'character and resilience' defined, broadly, as the attributes that enable individuals to maximize opportunities, to persist in, and bounce back from, adversity, and to forge and maintain meaningful relationships. Recommendations included: the extension of the pupil premium into early years education; evidence-based parenting initiatives; mandatory participation by teachers in extra-curricular activity; incorporation of character and resilience into teacher training and continuing professional development programmes; encouragement of volunteering among young people; and initiatives to involve employers in developing and valuing character and resilience.
Source: Chris Paterson, Claire Tyler, and Jen Lexmond, Character and Resilience Manifesto, The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility
An article examined the socio-political drivers underpinning policy on sex and relationships education in Wales. Welsh Assembly Government guidance emphasized children's rights and citizenship values, and sought to make delivery more multi-disciplinary and integrated. Political rhetoric around sexual morality and family values was also different from, and more progressive than, that in England.
Source: Sarah Oerton and Anita Naoko Pilgrim, 'Devolution and difference: the politics of sex and relationships education in Wales', Critical Social Policy, Volume 34 Issue 1
The exams regulator said that the quality of marking of external exams in A levels, GCSEs and equivalent academic qualifications in England was good, but could be improved. The report said that, despite being a large scale and complex system, the existing arrangements for marking were well organized and tightly controlled. Exam boards' systems varied, but the review had found no evidence that one system was better than another in principle. Recommendations included: to agree metrics to measure marking reliability; to improve the queries and appeals system; and to improve oversight of the overall system.
Source: Review of Quality of Marking in Exams in A Levels, GCSEs and Other Academic Qualifications: Final report, Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator
An article presented a model of the education awards market in England that highlighted the implications of alternative strategies for achieving the twin objectives of effectiveness and efficiency. It described how awarding bodies co-operated and competed to maximize profit, and justified the coalition government decision in 2012 to create a monopoly in the awards and assessment market.
Source: Anthony Kelly, 'Monopolising the examining board system in England: a theoretical perspective in support of reform', Journal of Education Policy, Volume 29 Number 1