REASONS FOR RIOTS
Is Gini to blame?
The German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche -claimed that there was no such thing as an objective judgement ie one informed purely by empirical evidence and the application of reason. Individuals (including philosophers) unknowingly allow their own prejudices and cultural background to influence their judgement and one is reminded of this when reading the various explanations given for the recent riots in our major cities. These reasons include, but are not limited to, gang culture, black rap culture, immigration, criminality, greed, drugs, police tactics , stop and search, Police corruption, the Labour Government, the Coalition Government,(the Thatcher Government?) government cuts, tuition fees, August, poor education, youth unemployment, the NEET cohort, economic deprivation, poor parenting , broken homes, absent fathers, the judicial system, weak sentencing, the declining influence of religion and church leadership, the Gramacian Counter Culture (don’t ask) , the concentration of wealth in the few, bankers excess and so on. But maybe its partly Ginis fault!
The Gini coefficient is a measure of statistical dispersion developed by the Italian statistician and sociologist Corrado Gini and published in his 1912 paper “Variability and Mutability” .This is the most commonly used measure of inequality. The coefficient varies between 0, which reflects complete equality and 1, which indicates complete inequality (one person has all the income or consumption, all others have none).
Using this method, the measure of overall income inequality in the United Kingdom now happens to be higher than at any previous time in the last thirty years. The Gini Coefficient of the UK is the second highest in Europe (0.34 or so) and one of the worst in the industrialised world. The overall message when it comes to the UK is simple: income inequalities have been increasing, both recently and over longer time periods. These inequalities have been increasing at both ends of the spectrum. In other words, the poorest have fallen further behind the average, and the richest have moved further ahead. Inner London is deeply divided: it has by far the highest proportion of people on a low income (29% in the poorest fifth) but also a high proportion of people on a high income (28% in the richest fifth). In South East England the figures are respectively 17% and 27%.In short the gap between rich and poor is increasing. Add to this volatile mix the perception that some of those with huge amounts of money haven’t been behaving very well, of late, and indeed appear to have caused, or at the very least, exacerbated our financial and economic problems, and it could explain at least one aspect of why communities are fracturing from the bottom up.
What is also interesting and should presumably be put in the mix is that ,despite the greater inequality in the USA, according to a Sutton Trust report, almost 70% of the people surveyed there believe they can do better in the future (class mobility), whereas in the UK less than 40% believe they will rise out of poverty. We also know that social mobility has stalled in the UK and that the education system is not seen as a leveller.
None of this, of course, goes any way to remotely excusing the malicious , nihilistic violence, looting and arson that we have witnessed over the last week. But maybe these are issues that should be looked at as part of the overall mix in the post mortem into the possible causes.
One other interesting footnote -David Willetts, the Higher Education Minister, in his book the Pinch wrote ‘ Even in sober law-abiding Britain we saw the turmoil that resulted when the baby boomers were coming to adulthood. The two most violent riots in post-War London were the Grosvenor Square riots of 1968 and the Brixton and Broadwater Farm riots of 1985. They occurred around twenty years after each of the post-War baby boom peaks. (p129 of the paperback edition)’
Stuart Bonar points this out on his blog and adds ‘ Well, the third postwar peak in births (lower than the other two at 706,140, but still a peak with a trough either side) occurred in 1990. Yes, that’s right: 21 years ago this year.’
In the meantime, in the aftermath, our communities are making impressive strides in fighting back and are trying to rebuild themselves and re-establish their confidence, identities and mutual support networks.
Generally, in the wake of the dreadful rioting, looting and arson of the last few days politicians of all parties have acted responsibly and not sought to score political points. Whatever the reasons and motivations of the rioters the responsibility and fault cannot lie with individual politicians or one administration . But cue Harriet Harman MP, whose command of Orwellian double speak never fails to rise to the challenge. Seeking to score political points she said, in an exchange with Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, that she was not justifying the violence looting and arson but then went ahead, with bull headed determination, and attempted to do precisely that, managing to face in two different directions, at the same time. She said:
“there is a sense that young people feel they are not being listened to. That is not to justify violence. But when you’ve got the trebling of tuition fees, they should think again about that. When you’ve got the EMA being taken away, when you’ve got jobs being cut and youth unemployment rising and they are shutting the job centre in Camberwell – well you should think again about that”.
So, we are to assume, using Harman’s logic , that our disaffected youth have reached a tipping point since, that is, the Coalition Government came to power . However if you look at youth unemployment, NEET and Truancy figures under the last Government there has been only marginal change in the first year of this government . In any case you look at figures over a number of years to determine trends and evaluate policy effects and outcomes . When Labour came into power in 1997, around half of 16- to 17-year-olds were working. Now it’s just 23.3%, the lowest since figures were collected. This is self-evidently part of a longer term trend most of which was played out under the last Labour government of which she was a member. It is deeply unfortunate that Harman chose this line of attack. Presumably she is regretting it now.
David Goodhart of left leaning Prospect is probably the most insightful on the rioters possible self-justification
“The nihilistic grievance culture of the black inner city, fanned by parts of the hip-hop/rap scene and copied by many white people, has created a hardcore sub-culture of post-political disaffection. The disaffection is mainly unjustified. It’s as if the routine brutalities and racist humiliations of 30 to 40 years ago have been lovingly preserved to provide a motor of real anger for what is really just a kind of adolescent pose.”
Or Danny Kruger a former Cameron aide (in FT) has this take:
‘The intifada of the underclass, as someone called it on Monday night, bears a pathetic comparison with the uprisings elsewhere around the Arab world during this year. Young people in Egypt and Tunisia had something to lose from their protests – their lives – and something to gain – democracy and justice. Our young people have nothing to lose and nothing to gain, except thrills and new trainers. They are simply confirming, in the most disgraceful terms possible, their own disgrace’
MICHAEL BARBERS THEORIES ATTACKED
Deliverology little more than top down command and control damaging Education, according to Professor Seddon
Whats the case?
Professor Michael Barber seems to be everywhere and much in demand. The Daily Mail tells us that he is currently charging the DFID (who manage our aid to developing countries) £4,400 a day for consultancy advice. (The Department has not had to suffer the 20% cuts inflicted on most other Departments , meaning DFID is relatively flush). Recently the head of McKinsey’s Global Education Practice, where he impressed, he is providing education advice to Pearson Education (amongst others it transpires).
Previously Barber had made his mark in the public sector. He is a former teacher, academic (Institute of Education),Civil servant, Trade union official, and local authority man (Hackney). Back in 1997, when David Blunkett became education secretary, Barber was appointed head of the School Standards Unit, and the two of them drove forward, with considerable determination the Literacy Strategy, targeted initially at Primary schools. This was regarded at the time as a success, certainly in the initial phase. He went on to head the Prime Ministers (Blair) Delivery Unit in 2001 with overall responsibility for driving through public sector reforms.
He is highly regarded in both the public and private sectors. Indeed, Michael Gove, the Education Secretary asked him to be Permanent Secretary at DFE only last year, an offer he obviously declined. He also advised Joel Klein who reformed New York schools.
Barber invented the term deliverology and gave an account of how he approached public service reforms in his book ‘Instruction to Deliver’ (2007). His theories were central to informing Blairs public sector reforms. His power point presentations and performance graphs were legendary, setting targets and evaluating departments performance against set targets and milestones. Professor Barbers definition of deliverology is ‘ a systematic process through which system leaders can drive progress and deliver results’. In short, command and control. It was a top down, interventionist approach. Governments, said Barber, face a productivity challenge; people want better services but don’t want to pay higher taxes. To meet the challenge, he went on, three management models have emerged: command and control, quasi-markets, and devolution and transparency.
Command and control, he suggested, ‘is often essential for a service which needs to improve from awful to adequate’. Its not effective, though, for the next phase-adequate to good- where a more devolved approach is required. In support of his argument, Barber cited literacy and numeracy in schools and waiting times for healthcare. The aim was to recognise that public services, while different from businesses in being universal and equitable, remained essentially similar in management terms. Barber said that that public service professionals need to have the mindset and capability, not just to lead radical change but to manage transformed services.
Blair set up the PMDU to drive through public-sector reform in the face of perceived civil service obstruction and inertia. It was based in his office, reporting directly to him. He gave its leadership to Barber It wasn’t easy. By 2001/02 – ‘ the system’, in Barbers words , ‘which had worked so well between 1997-2000 had lost its edge at every level’ . Barber tells us that by October 2001 – so two years in – the position was poor. It was decided that a harder push was needed; individuals were to be held more accountable. But by the end of 2002, at the time of the third round of delivery reports, progress was no better than mixed. 2003, was not much different. Even one of the perceived successes, the Literacy strategy, was under attack. Durham University’s Peter Tymms challenged the statistical basis behind the perceived success of the literacy strategy. Tymms concluded that the statistical procedures behind the startling results on which Barber had built his reputation for delivery were faulty. When the statistical error was corrected the results flattened out .He attributed most improvements to the teachers ‘teaching to the test’
The Barber top down approach was basically -tell mangers whats required, give them clear targets, ensure accountability and the delivery chain works and there are no weak links , then measure monitor and evaluate, checking against clear milestones. And be prepared to intervene when things are going wrong (which, of course, they do, frequently)
The problem was twofold. First, the reform strategy to begin with, and indeed for some time, showed no measurable results, and politicians operate remember ,with a four year horizon. When positive results began to show, they were hardly stellar .And, even when measurable results were available, later on, it transpired that given that billions had been invested in public sector reforms ,the return on investment was seen as, at best, marginal. Indeed some argued that some services had actually got worse. Few believe that the billions spent, delivered acceptable returns. Barber himself says the reforms should be judged as a move from “awful” to “adequate” rather than from “good” to “great” And the reason for this modest change is clearly not inadequate expenditure.
This has led one critic, Professor John Seddon, to describe Barbers deliverology theory as ‘Mickey Mouse Command and control’ . Professor John Seddon in a lecture to academics at California State University claimed that the billions on public sector reform were in fact wasted. (CSU didn’t quite get Barber). Public services have not improved and the problem was actually Barbers approach. Deliverology made matters worse, according to Seddon .In education, the target setting culture has meant that our children are taught to the test and are not being properly educated. Children are now asking their teachers, he said, will I be tested on that? So, anything that doesn’t contribute to test results is being discarded or knocked off the agenda. Indeed, anything that cant be measured easily is now regarded as a second order priority. So a broader education and learning experience suffers. Seddon, of course, is not the only critic of teaching to the test and the effects of the target culture on the childrens learning experience. Many Heads see their main job as ensuring that as many pupils as possible pass the benchmark tests, whether it’s the key stage tests or securing good grades at GCSE and A level, securing good league table positions. Offering a broad education and nurturing those with real ability is not on their agenda.
A lack of improvement from this top down approach to reform is explained away according to Seddon in two ways. A failure to meet targets could mean that the targets were wrong. Or managers were not putting in enough effort, or failing to understand exactly what was required of them. Seddon defined deliverology as ‘ a top down method by which you distort a system, undermine achievement of purpose and demoralise people’.
Seddon says that ‘Barber believes that the only way to achieve better services is through more resources. This thinking around productivity as the challenge is misguided and wrong. It was W. Edwards Deming that found the better way is to improve quality if you want better productivity.’
Seddon adds that the problem with target setting is that ‘all targets are arbitrary and worse they become the defacto purpose of the organization.’ In education, the target has been to score high on tests, and so naturally the teachers purpose is to teach to the test. The real purpose should, he points out, be to support learning.
Barber, Seddon claims, ‘believes that creating a bureaucracy for reporting and measurement is the same as real improvement.’ Concluding that Barbers regime ‘fostered compliance rather than experimentation ‘
Seddon expands ‘ In the latter days of Barber’s reign, the deliverology regime shifted the emphasis from top-down command and control to what was called ‘sustainable improvement, driven by the pressure of customers’ ie the second phase in reform. But to some it wasn’t at all clear that the first phase had delivered-ie getting services from awful to adequate.
For Blair the shift was a new vision of reform, involving higher standards of performance through greater customer responsiveness. The tailoring and personalisation of services, built around customers, not producers. So, in short, a bottom up approach. To some this meant that the top down approach hadn’t worked, reinforced by the fact that the Delivery Unit was disbanded
Seddon writes ‘ Barber’s de facto method is to create a bureaucracy for measuring and reporting that then deludes people into assuming improvements are real; his strategies for ‘unleashing’ only unleashed diseased and dysfunctional bureaucracies. ‘
The attraction of Barber is that he is a plausible and articulate advocate with broadly based experience. So he ticks the boxes when it comes to top level experience and understanding how national and local government work. He knows how to use data and the importance of research and what levers to pull .But it strikes me that deliverology adds up to little more than sound project management and it hardly represents a new departure or original management thinking . ie Focus, Plan, Have method ,Monitor and evaluate, and Communicate.
Barber, to my mind, is rightly praised for getting the Literacy Strategy off the ground with some momentum behind it and ensuring a long overdue, proper focus on the bedrocks of literacy and numeracy in our primary schools. I have heard him speak and was impressed-he is a man untroubled by even a scintilla of self-doubt, unlike most with an academic background. But he surely cannot escape criticism for the failure to convince the public that there had been a revolution in public service delivery under the Blair government. Indeed, there is no evidence that productivity improved in education over the period 1999-2006. Barber said ,remember that public sector productivity ‘is now the central issue of domestic politics’. According to the ONS ‘Productivity of publicly-funded education is estimated by dividing annual figures for output from education (taking account of quality) by inputs to education (after making an allowance for pay and price increases) (ONS 2007’) On this basis although between 1996 and 1999, productivity of publicly-funded education services increased on average by 2.1 per cent a year; from 1999 onwards, productivity fell on average by 0.7 per cent a year until 2007. In other words it fell throughout the period Barber was in charge of delivery, and at a time moreover when there was unprecedented investment in public services. It is not straightforward measuring productivity in the public sector, of course, although we lay claim to measuring it better than others, but the figures nevertheless raise some legitimate questions about the effectiveness of the reforms. As for the target setting culture, which is a major legacy of Barber -well there are plenty of critics who say there are as many cons as there are pros to this approach. And we know that target setting can have bizarre and unintended consequences. For instance, teachers and local authorities focus most of their effort and resources on pupils at the C/D grade boundary at GCSE, to the cost of other more able pupils.
How many people believe that a childs learning experience is much better now than it was, say, in the late 1990s? Test results, of course, are better but test results were on an improvement curve even before 1997, as the Reform think tank has pointed out, and, of course, improving test results tell us next to nothing about pupils learning experiences or whether our children are actually being well educated.
Professor Barber deserves much respect given his record of public service. But we seem to be still left, despite his best efforts, with public services that are stubbornly resistant to change, unresponsive to shifts in demand and whose productivity never seems to measurably improve. And now we no longer have the levels of investment in public services that Barber enjoyed when he was head of Blairs delivery.
Barber perhaps demonstrated the limits of central government intervention. We have got to find ways of getting more from less and the big issue now is how to achieve this. Certainly improving public sector productivity and public value is important , but this has to be accompanied by supply side reforms which better harness private sector resources and capital, with taxpayers money now in such short supply.
Professor Seddon is visiting professor at Cardiff, Derby and Hull Universities and Managing Director of Vanguard Consulting.
ONS Public Service Productivity;Summary; Education 2007
LABOUR’S EDUCATION POLICY
Burnham’s utilitarian approach eschews Latin
Andy Burnham, the Shadow Education Secretary, gave a speech at Demos this month in which he sought to articulate the main themes being explored by Labour’s Schools Policy Review. Significantly, he did not commit a future Labour government to overturning the coalition government’s new Free Schools or Academies. Indeed he didn’t mention them. Its probably worth noting, in this respect, that ,by the next election, the majority of secondary schools in England could have already converted to academy status.
So what are Labour’s themes?
Burnham said he would look to build a school system in England based on three clear principles:
First, where hard work is properly rewarded and all young people have something to aim for beyond school.
Second, where we reach every single child, by judging schools on the difference they make for every individual student – including how far schools stretch the brightest
Third, where learning is made relevant to life today, building the character and qualities young people will need to succeed in 21st century
He said “Reward, reach, relevance – these will be my 3Rs to guide schools reform in the 21st century.” Burnham wants a school system that is “comprehensive and collaborative”
Mike Baker who was chairing a discussion session at Demos picked out 10 themes from Burnhams speech which struck him as significant:
Labour’s approach will reject the current nostalgia for Latin and rote-learning or what Burnham called the ‘back to the future’ approach. The EBacc will not be applied universally.
The Policy review will take a broad view of education, including an emphasis on creativity.
It will seek clarity for those students taking a vocational route.
There could be a UCAS-style ‘clearing’ process for those seeking to enter apprenticeships, with the best opportunities going to those who work the hardest.
League tables will be reformed, using Value-Added or Contextual Value-added measures.
A minimum entitlement for all pupils (e.g. to one-to-one tuition) is being considered as is an expectation that every student should achieve a grade Cat GCSE in Maths and English.
Labour will take a more ambitious view of the role of work experience and placements to encourage social mobility.
An updated version of Tomlinson will be brought back, introducing a true, broad Baccalaureate.
teaching may become an all Masters-degree profession
Local Authorities will be given a clearer planning role and a role to encourage collaboration between schools
Burnham believes that what he calls the market model “encourages schools jealously to guard the best of what they’ve got; and will produce winners and losers, where young people get trapped in struggling institutions”. How this last theme will fit with a school system dominated by autonomous state schools is hard to see but he clearly reflects Labours concerns that the current focus on autonomy may ,potentially, lead to an atomised system in which collaboration between schools is reduced and the most vulnerable suffer because the support services, currently offered to them by local authorities, are cut back.
Ministers for their part, point out that Academies, as part of their funding agreements, need to demonstrate a collaborative approach and show that they are community focused
Burnham seeks to caricature Goves approach to the curriculum by focusing on Latin as an unwelcome blast from the past. The argument goes -Gove prefers to focus on a dead language rather than, for instance, ICT that is more relevant to the workplace. There are suggestions here of a utilitarian approach to education-in other words education is about preparing pupils exclusively for the jobs market, a view shared by some former Labour Education Secretaries . So, rather than Latin, Burnham prefers engineering, business studies and ICT to create “a route into work” for Britain’s young people. But Burnham may be missing the zeitgeist. Many more state schools are taking up Latin than, say, five years ago. And the Independent newspaper, not renowned, it has to be said, as a hotbed of reactionary sentiment, opined last week ‘Latin is the maths of the humanities – a training in analytical thought for which no previous knowledge is required. It fires the imagination of the young with its goddesses, gladiators and mythological flying horses. It offers a great foundation for later language learning. Its students do better in reading, comprehension, vocabulary and conceptual thinking. Ipsa scientia potestas est’
It is worth reflecting what Schumacher said about education. He agreed that science and engineering produce know-how, but the task of education should lie first and foremost with the know-what – the transmission of ideas of value so that we know what to do (with the know-how). Thus, Schumacher argues that a science and technology-focused education system can be like a dead-end street – “know-how is nothing by itself; it is a means without an end.”
Meanwhile Andy Burnham and his team will be gearing up, over the summer, to launch attacks on the Education Bill, still with the Lords. One area where the Government is vulnerable is the new national careers service and advice and guidance in schools. It seems that most pupils will not have access to face to face professional careers advice in schools , as schools will opt for the cheapest option-access to advice through a web portal . The BIS has provided funds for adult face to face guidance but the DFE has provided none for the same service for schools. Who will suffer most from this?. The most disadvantaged pupils, in other words those pupils who are supposed to be the key priority of the coalition government. Both the Commons Select Committee and Simon Hughes the ’Access tsar’ have recently stressed the importance of face to face advice.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE EDUCATION MARKET?
Suppliers are being ignored by the Government
The last government (DFES) commissioned PWC to look at the childrens services market and to come up with some ideas about how it could be better managed. The Labour Government wanted Local Authorities to move towards becoming commissioners rather than providers of services. The PWC report (see link below)made recommendations as to how the supply market could be opened up so for profit and not for profit providers could deliver more services( sounds familiar?). Indeed this is an aim shared by this government. PWC concluded that:
“We have identified a number of barriers that exist to effective market operation. The barriers that exist in the fostering market are typical of these markets and include: a lack of transparency on costs; limited visibility of markets; a shortage of experienced commissioners; limited dialogue between suppliers and commissioners; inconsistent application of overall national frameworks; and potentially conflicting roles of local authorities acting as commissioner and provider. These barriers need to be addressed to improve the operation of the markets. The DfES can play a significant role in removing the barriers and encouraging effective and strategic commissioning.”
Ministers agreed but then not much happened. Local Authorities largely continued in the way they had always done in providing most services in-house, some even reducing the number of their outsourced contracts. Of course, there were some contracts outsourced but certainly not on the transformative scale the Government intended.The message had clearly not trickled down to the commissioning and procurement staff in LAs. The result was that with no government intervention the supply market failed to develop here and companies went in search of new business and income streams abroad. But abroad these companies found, as they still do, that they they had to compete against grant funded education quangos who are not transparent with their costs and who who do not compete on an equal basis with other for profit and not for profit suppliers.
This government, like the last one, has failed to engage with these market issues. Indeed, as Education Investor revealed last month five senior managers, all exporters of education services, wrote to Francis Maude ,the Minister responsible for public services reform and procurement issues, highlighting the problem of education quangos and unfair competition, (British Council, SSAT, NCSL etc) helpfully recommending too, ways in which the Government might help create a level playing field and an enabling environment in which the market might expand. The Minister took five months to reply to this letter , (only replying with a backdated letter when the editor of Education Investor contacted his office), refused to acknowledge there was a problem and , to add insult to injury, ignored their recommendations . The recommendations, by the way, included a number of steps that the BBC has taken to address competition and transparency issues following complaints about its market activities from its non-subsidised competitors. So what were these five senior managers’ recommendations?
Detailed supplier agreements should be drawn up to ensure that the commercial arms of quangos charge appropriately and are fully transparent on their costs.
Quango staff should be trained on fair trading and competition principles; and a governance structure for fair trading matters overseen by an impartial body (National Audit Office).
There should be separate accounting for commercial activities, with a certificate by the External Auditor that there is no material cross-subsidy of commercial activities out of public funds.
There should also be a recognised process and provisions to receive complaints and appeals by competitors claiming a grievance against subsidised entities.
An annual report for each quango should be published in searchable format with clear performance benchmarks and measurement of outputs and value added.
All quangos should be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
There should be a range of penalties and sanctions for anti-competitive behaviour and the possibility of compensation to deter anti-competitive behaviour.
Parliament should take a view on how best it can hold Quangos regularly accountable for the way they manage and account for public funds.
These, as you can probably see, were constructive recommendations, from companies trying to export UK education services, in an area where we potentially have a competitive advantage and whose efforts can help our balance of payments too.
We know this government wants to make life easier for profit and not for profit suppliers and SMEs in the market place. So why on earth are they not prepared to engage with these suppliers or to address the obstacles to a fair and transparent market. I think that they deserve an answer.. and not in five months time.
The SSAT will tell you its not a quango and has never been because its a ‘ Charity’. So being a Charity means you avoid the dreaded quango label, does it? I think not. Using this argument the British Council is not a quango either, as it, too, is a Charity.If it looks like a quango, behaves like one, and is supported by grant funding… then err.. thats exactly what it is, a Quango.
WHAT DOES ANDY BURNHAM SAY ABOUT FREE SCHOOLS?
Wants Free Schools to demonstrate that they benefit all children in the local area ,not just those that attend the Free School
Andy Burnham, the Shadow Education Secretary, has been careful not to say that should Labour win the next election it would abolish Free Schools.
He said in a recent speech at an Education Conference on 17 May that “We are not against people who are trying to set up their own schools. And in the future, if a school was up and running successfully and making a positive input to the local community, a Labour Government would not close it simply because it was a Free School. Of course not. But what matters in deciding about any new parent-promoted schools is the contribution a new school makes to improving standards for all children. That’s why local areas should judge whether each school plans to operate in the wider interests of all children in the area, not just those that attend the school. My test will be clear – we should look not just at the results in the individual school but at the effect on results in the wider family of schools.” Burnham had told the ASCL conference earlier this year, that he had made it clear that “free schools must be judged by local areas on the merits of each proposal.” Peter Hyman, a labour party member and former aide to Tony Blair, was singled out by Burnham as having the right approach to Free Schools. He is establishing a Free School in Newham. Burnham notes that his proposals “are comprehensive, committed to fair admissions, and have the full backing of their local area. “ This has prompted some critics to suggest that he favours Free Schools providing, that is, they are set up by Labour supporters. He has criticised Toby Youngs West London Free School bid. Last December he said to the Guardian: “What I’d tell the Toby Youngs of this world is that your choice, well-intentioned as it might be … can undermine someone else’s options and choice.” With a number of influential Labour party members supporting Free Schools but with most union leaders opposed Burnham clearly has to steer a delicate course, seeking to satisfy two very different constituencies. So, he has a bit of a challenge on his hands.
Burnham says he will “judge every education policy on two clear tests – does it help every school to be a good school and every child to be the best they can be. That is why I say that by pursuing the free schools programme in the way that they are, the government has a plan for some schools and some children but not all schools and all children. “ Burnham’s main concern seems to be that Free Schools are not targeted at the most disadvantage pupils, in the most disadvantaged areas. Indeed he claims just 2 of the 26 schools approved so far are in the 10 most deprived communities. So, he concludes, taking into account also the new Academies scheme (which encourages good schools too to become Academies) that while spending on schools overall is falling, funding is now ,as a result of this policy, being diverted from areas of educational disadvantage to wealthier areas.
About 10 Free Schools are expected to open this September. To date 40 FS proposals have been approved by the Secretary of State to proceed to business case and plan stage or beyond.
After the red Tories-what would you expect?
Miliband and Glasman-sketch out a new direction?
Politicians are constantly on the look- out for new themes and ways of thinking that will unlock voter apathy and which will define them in relation to their opponents. Politics has moved to the centre ground and it’s just a bit crowded there, so new ideas are needed, and often, to help differentiate political parties and to give them a reason to exist beyond being technocratic electioneering machines. They are after all not just a bunch of mainly middle class Oxbridge graduates from privileged backgrounds. They are men and women ( still not many of the latter in the higher echelons it has to said) of vision, marking out a new political landscape fit for the twenty first century, which voters can buy into, or not, as the case may be. Blair had the Third Way, which never quite caught the imagination of the electorate –it’s not socialism, it’s not capitalism- it’s the third way (remember Professor Giddens?). The Tories or rather a group of Tories warmed to the themes articulated by Phiilp Blond ‘the Red Tory’, until quite recently a little known academic, who is now one of the major thinkers behind the Big Society and leads the progressive think tank Respublica. Now Ed Miliband, (sorry he is now to be called Edward) who doesn’t seem that different in the eyes of some electors to Cameron or Clegg, is busy articulating the Blue Labour agenda. At the heart of it is a growing realisation that the leadership might just have lost touch with the core Labour voter and the issues that get them animated (remember Gordon Brown on the campaign trail and what he referred to as that ‘bigoted’ woman up north). The idea is informed by the proposition that New Labour was more a methodology than a political philosophy and it was unable to build a genuinely different conception of society than the one that’s been on offer for the last thirty years. Blue Labour is the creation of an academic named Maurice (Lord) Glasman. He is social activist who was ennobled by Ed Miliband in the New Year’s Honours List. And Mr Miliband used some of Lord Glasman’s ideas in an important speech to the Fabian Society in January, as it happens. Essentially what Miliband said was that things could not go back to how they were before the Great Crash where Britain had been in thrall to an economic ideology that put money ahead of pretty much everything (including presumably Brown and his sidekick Ed Balls) The result was damage to “the values, institutions and relationships that people cherish the most”. The attraction of Glasman is that he thinks that the haemorrhaging of Labour support can be stopped. His research interests focus on the relationship between citizenship and faith and the limits of the market .As founder and director of an enterprise called ‘ the Faith and Citizenship Programme’ Glasman, a Jew, has been trying to help establish, among other things, a civic practice of interfaith scriptural reasoning, in which Jews, Christians, and Muslims explain their holy books to each other. So, he doesn’t lack ambition Glasman has been trying to nudge the Labour Party back toward its historic roots as a social movement based on a genuinely communitarian (and not exclusively statist) form of politics. The Guardian reported in late 2010 ‘The Labour party was born out of civil society groups organising against power, and he thinks Labour needs to return to that, weaning itself off a reliance on the state as the sole organising force of leftwing politics. Through his work with London Citizens, Glasman used those techniques to help organise people into persuading Ken Livingstone to agree a living wage when he was the capital’s mayor.’
The term Blue is not referring, of course, to Thatcherism or implying that the right have won the ideological argument. It is about conservative socialism, about the primacy of democracy over capital, society over the market and human relationships over commercial transactions but rooted in the past. It seeks to protect and revitalize social cohesion, solidarity, a moral order, and the “mediating structures” of social life. In talking about mediating structures there is something here too of the Big Society.
What really matters in people’s lives doesn’t often correspond with what is preoccupying the media and the Westminster village and the expenses scandal has merely reinforced the sense of alienation of voters and the feeling that no party or political leader understands them or is currently truly representing their views and interests and what actually matters most to them . This Blue Labour shift is about reconnecting and reengagement, rather easier said than done in these straitened times when electors are less trusting of politicians generally blaming them not unreasonably, it has to be said, for the mess they find themselves in . Watch how Blue Labour thinking develops over the next few months and how the Red Tories respond. The big question is whether this will capture the public imagination and that remains to be seen.
REFORM OF DC SCHOOLS;THE RHEE LEGACY
Relentless focus on targeting poor teachers and Principals helps raise standards
But at what cost?
Michelle Rhee was appointed to take over the troubled Washington D.C. school system in June 2007. When Rhee took over, D.C. schools were tied with Los Angeles for worst-in-the-nation status. During her tenure Rhee garnered both praise and criticism for her tactics and methods. In October 2010, she announced plans to leave the position and was replaced by Kaya Henderson, as interim Chancellor of DC schools. And since her departure educationalists have been trying to work out whether or not her reforms …worked. A relentless drive to improve teacher quality, removing poor teachers and principals, streamlining schools, giving teachers new pay incentives – promoting the best teachers, in fact all pretty good ideas. Rhees signature reform was in introducing IMPACT, a system for assessing the performance of teachers and other school-based staff. “It’s seeing teaching quality as the key factor in improving failing schools in particular and trying to approach the improvement of teacher quality both by financial incentives for high performance and for some methods of being able to release teachers who are seen as low performers,” said Robert Floden, the co-director of the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University. “She’s probably the most extreme example of someone who let a lot of teachers go on the basis of her judgments on their performance.” Some critics claim though that she failed ,period. Others ,probably the majority, that she had the right ideas but the wrong ‘adversarial ‘approach The argument is that you can’t fire your way to success. Boosting teacher quality, they say, requires a tempered meshing of improving teacher evaluation and professional development.
Rhee knew that there had been a well-documented decline over many years in the calibre of those aspiring to teach in Washington area - calculated by SAT scores, grades, scores on certification tests, etc. Rhee boosted the District off the floor, with significant gains on the federal “report card,” widely considered the gold standard of academic achievement. Since 2007, secondary schools have improved their standardized test pass rates by 14% in reading and 17% in maths, while elementary school pass rates have improved 6% in reading and 15% in maths. Systemwide graduation rates also improved by 3%, up to 72% in 2009. In 2010, Rhee and the unions agreed on a new contract that offered 20% pay raises and bonuses of $20,000 to $30,000 for “strong student achievement,” in exchange for weakened teachers’ seniority protections and the end of teacher tenure for one year. Under this new agreement, Rhee sacked 241 teachers, the vast majority of whom received poor evaluations, and put 737 additional school employees on notice. However, significant achievement gaps remain between students in high-performing and low-performing school districts, and between white and African American students. Those gains also came about the hard way, by firing principals and teachers with low expectations, minimal skills as educators or both. Several urban school chiefs though have been winning plaudits for carrying out important reforms with more collaborative, collegiate approaches: in Baltimore, Tampa and Miami, for instance. But it is significant that their reform packages fall short of what Rhee accomplished in Washington DC, in terms of outcomes. Rhee’s philosophy seems to be that if you want to fundamentally reform the system you are bound to upset producer interests, and particularly the Unions. So, get over it.Critics though say that the means of evaluating teachers performance is unfair and she could have achieved more by not polarising opinion with such an adversarial approach. Maybe, but her approach seems to have delivered results and she had to be tough to overcome union resistance. She was also applying policies in sympathy with federal government thinking over how best to raise school standards
A (WEST POINT) SANDHURST FOR TEACHERS?
US academic claims the education system is not delivering the skills or core competencies that employers want-sounds familiar?
Tony Wagner, the Harvard-based education expert and author of “The Global Achievement Gap,” discovered, having interviewed many top corporate leaders in the States, a profound disconnect between what potential US employers are looking for in young people and what US schools are providing (passive learning environments and uninspired lesson plans that focus on test preparation and reward memorization).
His criticism of the US system will have some resonance here in the UK. Most tests are highly content driven and do not encourage pupils to think about the content. Students are driven to try and learn on the internet what they don’t learn in school and to collaborate and explore for themselves. The system must better harness this resource, the internet. It is striking how much time students spend on the internet and how little schools have done to use it as a tool to help develop important skills.
Innovation has to be the real engine of economic growth in future , Wagner says, but the education system and even the higher education system is not providing creative students with support. To progress and compete in the global economy we need to encourage curiosity, and the education system just doesn’t deliver on this. The creators of Microsoft and Facebook had to leave Harvard to release or indeed to realise their potential . Indeed the system is not teaching or testing for these appropriate skills . Education is little more in the US than an elaborate game of Trivial Pursuit ,he says. It doesn’t help students to apply knowledge to be creative and to problem solve. Tests do not tell us what we really need to know about students.
Wagner has identified three basic skills that students need if they want to thrive in a knowledge economy. First, the ability to apply critical thinking and problem-solving; Secondly ,the ability to communicate effectively; and finally the ability to collaborate.
In fact Wagner listed seven key survival skills, though encompassing the three key pillars above. Although he believes in the importance of content, of more importance is a core set of competencies that are much more relevant to the 21st Century They are: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving; Collaboration across Networks and Leading by Influence; Agility and Adaptability; Initiative and Entrepreneurialism; Effective Oral and Written Communication; Accessing and Analyzing Information; Curiosity and Imagination. These competencies are not tested and assessed within the current education system. Yet schools should be accountable for developing these competencies.
Does he think that the US education system delivers on any of these? Absolutely not. He claims that if you look at the countries leading the pack in the tests that measure these skills (like Finland and Denmark), one thing stands out: they insist that their teachers come from the top one-third of their college graduating classes. As Wagner put it, “They took teaching from an assembly-line job to a knowledge-worker’s job. They have invested massively in how they recruit, train and support teachers, to attract and retain the best.”
Wagner is on the faculty of the Executive Leadership Program for Educators, a joint initiative of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, Business School, and Kennedy School of Government. However, before Harvard Wagner was a high school teacher for twelve years; a school principal; a university professor in teacher education; co-founder and first executive director of Educators for Social Responsibility; project director for the Public Agenda Foundation in New York; and President and CEO of the Institute for Responsive Education.
Wagner thinks interalia that US educators should create a West Point ( our equivalent is Sandhurst Royal Military Academy ) for teachers: He has said that “We need a new National Education Academy, modelled after our military academies, to raise the status of the profession and to support the R.& D. that is essential for reinventing teaching, learning and assessment in the 21st century.”
Wagner believes we must rethink, reconfigure and reconceptualise the system and properly harness the internet and digital technology. We need to see teachers as coaches and mentors to assist pupils in acquiring these skills and not simply as deliverers of the content of a curriculum to enable pupils to pass tests (many of them multiple choice) that do not test the real skills required by 21 Century employers. Business can do much to help this reconfiguration and the education sector must give Research and Development a much greater priority, similar to the priority afforded to it by leading businesses.
- PAYING FOR RESULTS-CAN IT HELP RAISE PERFORMANCE- OR DOES IT CORRUPT THE LOVE OF LEARNING?
- PROSPECTS JOINS MUTUAL JOINT VENTURE TO DELIVER PUBLIC SERVICES-GOVERNMENT KEEN ON EMPLOYEE OWNED MUTUALS DELIVERING PUBLIC SERVICES
- PROFESSOR TONY WATTS RESIGNS FROM THE NATIONAL CAREERS COUNCIL
- EDISON LEARNING AND THE NAHT UNION LAUNCH A SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT INITIATIVE WITH DFE BACKING
- THE FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT OF ACADEMIES-WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE ARE CONCERNS?
- PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE REPORT ON ACADEMIES-SOME CONCERNS OVER FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
- CAIRNS OF BRIGHTON COLLEGE BACKS ACADEMIES
- IS CAREERS ADVICE IN SCHOOLS EFFECTIVE OR IS IT TOO EARLY TO SAY?
- LEMOVS TEACH LIKE A CHAMPION -TOP TECHNIQUES USED BY THE BEST TEACHERS
- THE PUPIL PREMIUM AND SPECIAL SCHOOLS
- EDUCATION EXPORTS-NEW GOVERNMENT STRATEGY IN THE WINGS?
- INSPECTING ACADEMY CHAINS-ON THE AGENDA
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