THE PUPIL PREMIUM AND SPECIAL SCHOOLS
A range of policies, for example the introduction of the Pupil Premium, SEN reforms, and the expansion of the academies programme have a particular focus on those pupils left behind currently. The well-known attainment gap at GCSE level is between those who receive free school meals and those who do not—36% of pupils in receipt of free school meals achieved five or more A* to C grades at GCSE, compared with 63% of all other pupils.
The pupil premium is allocated for pupils who are currently eligible or who have been eligible in the past six years for free school meals, children who have been continuously looked after for at least six months, and children whose parents are serving in the Armed Forces. In the financial year 2012-13, the pupil premium was allocated at a rate of £623 per pupil and the service child premium was allocated at a rate of £250 per pupil. The pupil premium will increase to £900 per pupil and the service child premium will increase to £300 per pupil in the 2013-14 financial year. That said there are still significant numbers of children living in poverty who are simply not picked up by the free school meals measure, and therefore they and their schools lose out on the valuable support that the pupil premium could give to them.
But what about what about Special schools and PRU pupils?
Lord Nash, replying to a PQ on 10 April, said ‘Pupil premium grant is allocated to each local authority in respect of eligible pupils in maintained special schools, pupil referral units (PRUs) and alternative provision (ie attending schools not maintained by the authority for which the authority is paying full tuition fees, plus all pupils educated otherwise than in schools under arrangements made by the authority).Pupil premium grant in respect of pupils in these settings can be allocated to the setting where the child is being educated or held by the local authority to spend specifically on additional education support to raise the pupil’s standard of attainment.’
In its report “Fair and Square,” the Children’s Society found that some 700,000 children living in poverty are not entitled to receive free school meals, in the majority of cases simply because their parents are working. As six in 10 children in poverty live in working families, some believe there is an urgent need to address the situation of those children who do not happen to qualify for free school meals yet grow up in circumstances just as grim as many who do.
Do they make a difference? Maybe ,but not on attainment
Over the last 15 years, teaching assistants (TAs) have become a central part of policy and practice in meeting the needs of lower-attaining pupils and those with SEN. Over this period, TAs have grown to comprise an astonishing quarter of the UK mainstream school workforce. Some claim that that using TAs to provide one-to-one and small group support to struggling pupils works well. Others fear that they they dont have the necessary skills and training to cope with these specialist tasks.One serving teacher told me that the reality for many TAs today, is that ” they sit beside the most appallingly behaved children, lesson after lesson, and try to limit the damage they do by reprimanding them, encouraging them or distracting them.’
It does seem likely that schools will seek to extend this support work through the Pupil Premium. However, research suggests that schools should be cautious about the use (or misuse) of TAs assistants. Results first published in the 2009 book Reassessing the Impact of Teaching Assistants: How Research Changes Practice and Policy, by Peter Blatchford, Anthony Russell and Rob Webster, on a five-year study of 8,200 pupils, found that pupils who received the most support from TAs consistently made less progress than similar pupils who received less TA support. In Reassessing the Impact of Teaching Assistants the authors recommend:
- TAs should not routinely support lower attaining pupils and those with SEN
- Teachers should deploy TAs in ways that allow them to ‘add value’ to their own teaching
- Initial teacher training should include how to work with and manage TAs
- Schools have a formal induction process for TAs
- More joint planning and feedback time for teachers and TAs.
The five-year study, the Deployment and Impact of Support Staff (DISS) project (the largest study of TAs worldwide) measured the effect of the amount of TA support on the academic progress of 8,200 pupils, while controlling for factors like prior attainment and level of SEN. Worryingly, the analyses, across seven year groups, found that those who received the most support from TAs consistently made less progress than similar pupils who received less TA support. So given the resources invested in Teaching Assistants and their apparent lack of impact on pupil attainment, and the possible role they may have in support of the Pupil Premium , some searching questions surely need to be asked. But perhaps its unfair to blame TAs. Fully qualified teachers often value the support afforded by TAs. And the results from the DISS project seem to show that it is the decisions made about – not by – TAs, in terms of their deployment and preparation, which are at fault. http://www.schoolsupportstaff.net/
Just 34% of Free School Meals Pupils achieve five good GCSEs
Latest up-dated data is just out for 2010/11 on attainment for GCSE and equivalent results for pupils attending maintained schools (including CTCs and academies). The information covers different pupil characteristics, specifically gender, ethnicity, English as a first language, eligibility for free school meals (FSM) and special educational needs (SEN) at national and local authority level. It shows:
58.2 per cent achieved 5 or more A*-C grades at GCSE or equivalent including English and mathematics GCSEs (an increase of 3.0 percentage points from 2009/10).
Girls continue to outperform boys: 61.9 per cent of girls achieved 5 or more A*-C grades at GCSE or equivalent including English and mathematics GCSEs compared with 54.6 per cent of boys.
Chinese pupils are the highest attaining ethnic group, with 78.5 per cent achieving 5 or more A*-C grades at GCSE or equivalent including English and mathematics GCSEs.
58.5 per cent of pupils whose first language is English achieved 5 or more A*-C grades at GCSE or equivalent including English and mathematics GCSEs, compared to 55.8 per cent of pupils for whom English is not a first language.
34.6 per cent of pupils eligible for FSM achieved 5 or more A*-C grades at GCSE or equivalent including English and mathematics GCSEs, compared to 62.0 per cent of all other pupils.
33.8 per cent of disadvantaged pupils (pupils eligible for FSM or looked after children) achieved 5 or more A*-C grades at GCSE or equivalent including English and mathematics GCSEs, compared to 62.3 per cent of all other pupils.
The proportion of pupils with SEN without a statement achieving achieved 5 or more A*-C grades at GCSE or equivalent including English and mathematics GCSEs is 24.7 per cent, compared to 8.5 per cent of pupils with SEN with a statement, and 69.5 per cent of pupils with no identified SEN.
FREE SCHOOL MEALS MEASURE
Isnt it time to change this crude measure for deprivation?
The proportion of pupils, around 80,000, receiving Free School Meals (FSM) has long been used as the main indicator for deprivation.
However, experts have long considered it too crude a measure to give an accurate picture as it is based on just one income-based variable. FSM is not a comprehensive measure as a significant number of those eligible do not sign up either because they do not want school food or more often because of the stigma attached to receiving free food. In addition, FSM is all or nothing – any formula including FSM assumes that a child who’s family income is low enough to receive them (around £16,000) has additional educational needs but one whose family is just over the limit needs no extra support. It is also a purely economic indicator, and does not take into account that certain communities are culturally rather than financially deprived.
Michael Nicholson, Director of Admissions at Oxford University, in a letter to the Guardian on 3 March said that ‘Free school meals are a bad measure of diversity at selective universities– not least because a significant number of students are not eligible for free school meals simply because they attend sixth-form colleges, further education institutions or (on bursaries) independent schools . And many students opt not to claim free school meals even if they qualify. Around 10% of Oxford University students come from families with incomes below £16,190 (the key eligibility criteria for free school meals). Only about one in 10 of these students actually claimed free school meals – the rest wouldn’t have been counted in any of the figures related to free school meals, which you cite as an indicator of Oxford’s poor access record.’ There are other measures that could be used. One alternative, identified by Policy Exchange in its pre-election report on the Pupil Premium and used by 12 authorities, is the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD). This is a combined indicator developed by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) across seven different domains (housing, education, health, crime, employment, income and living environment). Previously the IMD was only calculated at ward level which was not hugely useful as inter-ward geographies can differ dramatically. In 2004 the IMD was applied to Super Output Areas (SOAs), which are small areas averaging around 1,500 people designed by the Office of National Statistics, using zone-design software to combine compact shape and relative social homogeneity. There are 34,378 SOAs compared to around 10,000 wards at any given time (wards are electoral and so boundaries change regularly – one of the benefits of SOAs is that the boundaries do not change allowing more accurate trend analysis). Applying IMD at this level gives it a greater level of accuracy enabling authorities to use it in a formula. Bury, for example, scores each pupil by their IMD and allocates deprivation funding accordingly. However, IMD is not pupil specific and even though SOAs are tightly drawn there are still small pockets of deprivation in predominantly affluent ones and vice versa. The Policy Exchange report (co-authored as it happens by Sam Freedman currently an education adviser to Gove) recommended using a “geodemographic” classification like ACORN or MOSAIC which analyse individuals’ postcodes using 400 variables derived from the census and other sources but are relatively simple to understand. The report stated ‘The MOSAIC classification is a better predictor of student performance than other proxies like Free School Meals.’
Under the current school funding system in England, most funds are allocated on a per-pupil basis – the more pupils a school has, the more funding it receives. However, the money a school receives for each pupil is adjusted (‘weighted’) to take into account pupils’ characteristics, such as their age, whether they have special education needs (SEN), and whether they come from a deprived background (Free School Meals). Local authorities create their own ‘fair funding formula’, deciding how much extra money the schools under their control receive for different sorts of pupils. However much of the extra money for poorer students comes not from annual revenue funding via the DSG but through central government grants which are often designed to support specific policy outcomes while the FSM remains the predominant indicator in the various formulae used by local authorities to re-allocate their share of the DSG.
The Government has set out a Free Schools funding formula and Ready Reckoner for the Academic Year 2011/12 that is based on a number of different components. Which amongst others takes into account the needs of disadvantaged pupils on FSM. Ministers announced in December 2010 allocations for the first year of the £625m pupil premium , revealing that it would be distributed at a flat rate of £430 for each child registered for free school meals. The pupil premium for 2011-12 will be allocated to local authorities and schools with pupils that are known to be eligible for free school meals as recorded on the January 2011 school census, pupil referral unit census and alternative provision census. So, each pupil known to be eligible for free school meals will attract £430 of funding which will go to the school or academy via the local authority or YPLA if the pupil is in a mainstream setting or will be managed by the responsible local authority if the pupil is in a non-mainstream setting.
If politicians want to accurately target disadvantaged pupils, which is clearly a priority of the coalition government , the FSM benchmark is a pretty blunt tool .There should be a consultation to identify a better way of identifying and targeting our most disadvantaged pupils for their sakes but also to secure a better return for the investment made in this important area of public policy.
Note: Of the 80,000 students eligible for free school meals in the United Kingdom, only 176 achieved three As at A-level
DISADVANTAGED PUPILS AND ADMISSIONS
Government looks again at the Admissions Code
But how do you stop selection?
The Government apparently intends to rewrite the school admissions code. Ministers believe that the code for school admissions, which has legal force, is unnecessarily long and difficult for parents to navigate if they wish to mount an appeal.
There is a strong suspicion that the way admissions are currently handled does little to help our most disadvantaged pupils or to progress the social mobility agenda.
According to Barnardos (Report-Unlocking the Gates-2010) half of all pupils entitled to free school meals, are concentrated in a quarter of secondary schools and if you look at the top secondary schools (on a measure of getting ﬁve GCSEs at A* to C including English and maths) they take on average only ﬁve per cent of pupils entitled to free school meals, less than half the national average .It seems accepted that widening access to good neighbourhood schools has a critical role to play in narrowing the opportunity gap in education.
Since the Education Reform Act 1988, parents have had a degree of choice over which school their child attends, also known as ‘parental preference’. However, the system for determining school admissions is complex, particularly when schools are oversubscribed .Good schools of course are all oversubscribed, but few are able to expand to accommodate the demand for places. Although most parents get places in the school of their choice, a significant minority don’t. If you look at London, a third of parents did not get their first choice secondary school for this autumn. Figures from the Pan London Admissions Board (PLAB) show just 65% of families got a place at their preferred school. In the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, some 15 per cent of children failed to gain places at their parents preferred schools – believed to be the highest failure rate in England. And nearly 40% of children in Westminster, 39% in Southend and 38% in Barnet will miss out on their parents first preference this September. In total more than 79,000 children missed out on a place at their first-choice secondary school for this September,
The complexity of the admissions process is acknowledged which is why the previous government, in 2005, announced plans to develop a national network of Choice Advisers. However, a recent evaluation of the initiative found great variation in the provision of Choice Advice: some services did little more than answer the queries of self-referring families about how the admissions system worked, whereas others specifically targeted disadvantaged parents, providing them with intensive support. Given the scale of local authority cuts many believe that this service will suffer in many areas.
Local authorities act as the admissions authority for the majority of schools, but certain types of school act as their own admissions authority. The recent growth in foundation schools and academies means that there are increasing numbers of schools which act as their own admissions authority. In January 1988, 15 per cent of schools were their own admission authority, by January 2009, that figure had almost tripled to 42 per cent. and with the expansion of Academies and Free schools this proportion will increase over time. Schools that are their own admissions authority are subject to the School Admissions Code, which was rewritten by the last Government. It is designed to ensure they allow fair access for all. However there is some evidence that many of the best performing schools are more socially selective. A report by the Sutton Trust in October 2008 found that 74 out of the 100 most socially selective schools in England were their own admission authority. In particular, voluntary aided schools (typically those with a religious focus) seemed to take disproportionately fewer pupils entitled to free school meals, compared to their local population. It is true that the best state schools tend to have less than their local authority average of pupils with SEN and on FSM. This is hardly surprising-if the inputs are good, the outputs tend to be good too.
A study by West A, Barham E, and Hind A (2009) Secondary school admissions in England: Policy and practice www.risetrust.org.uk/Secondary.pdf found that even following the new admissions code there is still not 100 per cent compliance, particularly amongst schools which are their own admissions authority. The study identified a number of ways in which schools were acting in accordance probably with the letter, but not the spirit, of the new code – operating admissions systems that are so complex and difficult to understand that they may deter less well-educated and confident parents from applying. Schools also ask for additional information and use other techniques that are perfectly legal but might aid selection without leaving evidence in the form of a paper trail.
And this really seems to be the challenge. How do you stop schools selecting when they are doing it covertly? Tightening up the admissions code might help a bit. But remember much thought went in to drafting the current code which has only just been adopted . And what do you do about identifying schools that operate within the letter but not the sprit of the Code and, once identified , how do you put a stop to unfair practice?
ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION PROVISION
What is it, and how do you measure its effectiveness?
New literature review provides (some) answers
CfBT Education Trust has published a literature review ‘ Achieving successful outcomes through Alternative Education Provision: an international literature review’ to help improve understanding of how to measure the effectiveness of Alternative Education Provision (AEP), bring together evidence of effective approaches to AEP and to identify promising practice and lessons that might be transferable from AEP to mainstream provision.
The Coalition Governments education White Paper said that it will address the lack of a ‘common or transparent measure’ of the quality of alternative provision, where it is not inspected by Ofsted, by introducing a quality mark for alternative provision or through tighter regulation of that provision. This report provides useful evidence to help inform that policy.
The report acknowledges that defining AEP is problematic, as not only can it take numerous forms (private and third sector provision, FE provision, LA provision, online provision, work-based learning and vocational education, full time and part time) but it can also have different objectives (educational or social, prevention or intervention), be aimed at different beneficiaries (individual, family, community) and finally have different meanings in different countries.
However, it found that one of the most useful ways of conceptualising AEP comes from the US Department of Education which defines alternative education as a school that ‘addresses needs of students that typically can’t be met in a regular school, provides non-traditional education, serves as an adjunct to a regular school, or falls outside the categories of regular, special education or vocational education.’ However, thinking of AEP solely as ‘schools’ excludes some types of alternative provision. (The range of types of programme that may be referred to as AEP are illustrated in Appendix 6.1. of the report ) For this review the authors have therefore adapted an American definition so as to retain a focus on education programmes. For the purposes of this review alternative education provision is defined as: schools or programmes that are set up by local authorities, schools, community and voluntary organisations, or other entities, to serve young people whose needs are not being met and who, for a variety of reasons, are not succeeding in a traditional learning environment. The authors of a 2009 paper published by the think-tank Demos suggest that in relation to AEP there is a need for:
• ‘an accountability system that captures a richer idea of success in education – that allows schools, and children and young people’s services to flourish’
• ‘an Ofsted-style function of inspecting and monitoring voluntary and community and private sector organisations and awarding them a single quality kitemark; this kitemark scheme could build on the experiences of the new Learning Outside the Classroom ‘Quality Badge’ scheme.’
The research into AEP reviewed in this document supports this view and aims to build a clearer picture of what any such accountability system or kitemark scheme could capture in order to evidence the effectiveness of AEP appropriately. The main body of this report explores further the evidence of what contributes to effective AEP and the achievement of successful outcomes for young people through AEP; and concludes with a proposed framework that could be used both in planning or assessing AEP.
The evidence reviewed suggests some essential characteristics of effective AEP. Effective AEP is:
• Based on trusting, caring relationships
• Based on effective assessment of need
• Purposeful (outcomes focused)
• Personalised and appropriate (curriculum/addressing needs)
• Flexible and accessible
• Delivered by highly skilled and trained staff
• Monitored and assessed (to ensure needs are met and to inform delivery)
• Supported by the wider family and community.
The review found some evidence to suggest what outcomes can reasonably be expected from effective AEP. Outcomes that the literature suggests are typically measured, but may not be solely attributable to the provision, are:
• Academic attainment and increase in numbers of learners receiving awards for their performance
• School attendance
• Reductions in disruptive and/or violent behaviours and exclusions, suspensions, or referrals
• Reduction in offending behaviours
• Improved sense of direction and self, including changes in self-esteem, confidence, motivation, and health awareness
• Improvement in developing and sustaining relationships (with family, project staff, peers) including changes in the ability to communicate, cope with authority, and work with others
• Positive progression routes.
However, this review did not successfully identify evidence of the processes or mechanisms by which those characteristics suggested to be integral to effective AEP actually impact on outcomes, nor did it find evidence of causality. In short, it did not uncover how or why these characteristics make AEP successful.
But, by combining the list of effective characteristics, or ‘inputs’, with a list of outcomes drawn from the literature, an outline framework that could be useful in designing new AEP and also in monitoring the effectiveness of AEP has been produced. More work is needed on this outline framework to identify what tools and evidence could be used to measure or assess the effectiveness of both the inputs and the outcomes and to test its appropriateness for all types of AEP.
In general, the findings of the literature review reflect the sentiments of Brown Ruzzi:
‘The creative and individualized environments of these educational programs serve to reconnect and re-engage out-of-school youth providing them with an opportunity to achieve in a different setting using different and innovative learning methods. While there are many Achieving successful outcomes through Alternative Education Provision: an international literature review different kinds of alternative schools and programs, they are often characterized by their flexible schedules, smaller student-teacher ratios, relevant and career oriented themes, and modified curricula.’
.Achieving successful outcomes through Alternative Education Provision: an international literature review ;Paul Gutherson, Helen Davies, Ted Daszkiewicz-CfBT Education Trust (2011)
GIFTED AND TALENTED PUPILS – ARE WE FORGETTING ABOUT THEM?
They have special needs too
It’s not fashionable to talk about spending more resources and time on our extremely gifted students. There has always been resistance, in some schools at least, to even identifying gifted and talented pupils, as this is perceived as smacking of elitism and as in some way undermining the ‘comprehensive’ ideal . For now, education reformers want to close the achievement gap to ensure that the most disadvantaged pupils are given improved access to good schools and universities and that their educational outcomes improve, laudable aims of course. But a plausible argument can be put that our most gifted children have special needs as well, and some doubt that leaving it up to schools alone will enable them to get the support they deserve.
The Young Gifted and Talented programme (YG&T) was set up in 2007 to provide support and opportunities for gifted and talented children aged 4 to 19, including those who were members of the former National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth (NAGTY).
The YG&T Learner Academy gave them the opportunity to participate in activities designed to stretch and challenge them through a range of online and face-to-face events. It also created opportunities for gifted and talented students to meet and socialise with other young people with similar interests and outlooks.
The YG&T website also provided information and links to other sources of support for parents, governors and those who work with gifted and talented children and young people.
In England the network of external out of school support is going or has already gone . The academy has been scrapped and the £20m funding targeted elsewhere.
Separate cash for out-of-school master classes, workshops and summer schools has also been be withdrawn and a national register of bright children is being abolished.
The last government said the money earmarked for gifted children would instead be mainstreamed, in other words go directly to schools, giving individual head teachers more power to promote the needs of gifted pupils. Although Schools were told to prioritise bright children from the poorest backgrounds, this has been largely left up to heads. But many experts believe that without central government pressure ,and some ring fenced funding, the gifted and talented will lose out. This is yet another manifestation of the opposing struggle among reformers between giving schools real new autonomy and central prescription, with school autonomy winning out. It was the last Labour Government that decided to devolve responsibility for direct support back to schools. However, without supplementary out of school, specialist, external support afforded to our most gifted pupils ,we are in danger of not developing our best talent in state schools.
Denise Yates, chief executive of the National Association for Gifted Children, told the previous DCSF select committee in hearings last year that provision was already patchy in schools.
“On the one hand, there are excellent schools with excellent leadership and excellent programmes for gifted and talented, but parents are extremely worried that the other end is not catered for,” she said. “There are a lot of schools that don’t understand what gifted and talented means, who aren’t prepared to put programmes in place that cater for gifted and talented children and parents are extremely concerned.” She suggested some schools were concerned about promoting the needs of gifted children because it was seen as “elitist”. “I think the sooner that gifted and talented stops being seen as an elitist issue and the sooner it starts being seen as an equal opportunities issue the better,” she said. “If you pick somebody by definition you are always going to not pick somebody [else] and I think that’s an issue that has got to be considered within society as a whole.”
In a curious way the Gifted and Talented issue mirrors what is now happening over sport in schools. A centrally driven scheme, fomenting local partnerships, will soon be abolished and schools will in future, exercising their autonomy, take full responsibility for competitive sport , but sportsman are up in arms over the changes. Partly because the partnerships were unfairly criticised in their view by the Government. And partly because they have not much confidence that cash strapped Heads will afford any priority to school sports, whatever Ministers might say. Experts on Gifted and talented pupils feel largely sidelined too and have little confidence in schools willingness to identify and support gifted pupils.
The previous support regime was certainly not perfect. There were some teething problems, it was relatively slow in getting started and there was at times a clear lack of coherent leadership, picked out by expert witnesses at the Select Committee hearings last year but there were innovative schemes introduced which also won admiration too. In the last couple of years there were signs of real progress. But you will find few who support the current regime as being adequate, using any benchmark and too many schools have outdated attitudes, refusing still to identify gifted pupils just as some schools eschew competitive sports.
Ofsted’s Annual Report 2009-2010, published on 23 November 2010, highlights that schools are not challenging gifted and talented pupils and not meeting their needs, even in schools that are doing well in other areas. This lack of challenge impacts negatively on motivation and children’s achievement levels.
Paragraph 75 of the report states:
“For more academically able pupils, inspection evidence shows that teaching and learning can be insufficiently challenging and poorly matched to their needs. This is a weakness even in some schools otherwise judged to be good. Where this is the case opportunities for independent learning can be too limited, teaching is too directive, and additional tasks for higher-attaining pupils often simply require pupils to complete more of the same work rather than introduce new challenge. As a result more able pupils can lose enthusiasm and fail to make the progress of which they are capable.”
Parents have an important role in support of their own gifted children, of course. “Parental engagement in education is twice as predictive of a pupil’s academic success as where a family lives, their colour or race, income levels or whether they are working
class, middle class or upper class. Where this engagement is intensive it can be ten times more predictive” (Henderson & Berla, A New Generation of Evidence, 1996) and “Parents have the greatest influence on the achievement of young people through supporting their learning in the home environment” (Engaging parents in raising achievement; do parents know they matter? By Prof Alma Harris and Dr Janet Goodall, University of Warwick, 2007). But parents need help too from the school system to ensure that their child reaches its potential.
‘Ofsted’s verdict would seem to suggest that in too many cases this is not happening. Time for a re-think?
Key to SEN support-but worries about future shortages both of qualified staff and funding
Local authorities under real pressure
It is accepted that the 2,200 Educational psychologists (England and Wales) play a key part in helping to shape how educational settings approach a vast range of education issues through statutory and non-statutory work, including on curriculum development, generalised and complex special educational needs, support for the gifted and talented, behaviour management, and delivery of early-years provision. They also provide a vital role in offering strategic advice to local authorities across a range of children’s services, including for example, fostering and adoption . They offer crucial knowledge of child development. Help with early diagnosis and intervention, important for conditions such as autism. They also provide diagnostic advice and support. In their understanding of a child’s needs they can provide a tailored support package to assist them- crucial to their development. But there are growing concerns about their future funding. Educational psychologists are employed directly by the local authority, which therefore manages the training and deployment of staff. Since 2007, the Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC) has administered a funding scheme for the training of educational psychologists, to which local authorities are asked to contribute. But apparently they are not pulling their weight. Government cuts are putting local authorities under massive financial pressure, and local authorities are therefore finding it much harder to fund educational psychologists. There is a clear danger of this undermining the Governments SEN policy .Indeed, there is clear evidence that contributions from local authorities to the CWDC pot have been steadily decreasing. So far this year only 16 out of 150 local authorities have confirmed that they will be contributing, so leaving a significant shortfall in funding. In short, local authorities are not paying their share given that the money is included in local authority funding settlements.
And the Government is also publishing a Green Paper on SEN, probably this December, which aims to lay out the framework for the future. . So the onus will be on the Green paper , and indeed the Minister responsible, Sarah Teather, to clarify how this will all work in future and where the funding will come from. Over a hundred new educational psychologists have to enter the profession each year and quite a few of those currently in service are nearing retirement There is a national shortage and significant numbers of educational psychology services are carrying vacant posts. So it is something of a challenge. But what is clear is that uncertainty over the future will not help recruitment and a shortage of psychologists will undermine SEN policy. We shall have to await the Green Paper for some answers.
THE THEORY OF MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES
Does it stand up?
Professor Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences has wide spread currency in education. This is due to the appeal of its suggestion that there are a range of intelligences rather than a single IQ that is based on abstract mathematic/logical deductive thinking.
Gardner has questioned the idea that intelligence is a single entity, that it results from a single factor, and that it can be measured simply via IQ tests. Some children are ,for instance intuitively brilliant at acting but cant add up. A pupil might be a master of a musical instrument and sight read music at astonishing speed but be weak at expressing themselves on paper. Another child might have highly developed interpersonal skills, make friends easily but be a hopeless sportsman. The multiple intelligences set out by Gardner represent a broad range of culturally valued achievement recognised in the outcomes of schooling. Gardner’s multiple intelligences have therefore been utilised to justify the development of broader curriculum opportunities and increased differentiation in teaching. Gardner defines intelligence as “the capacity to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural setting” (Gardner & Hatch, 1989). Using biological as well as cultural research, he formulated a list of seven key intelligences. This new outlook on intelligence differs greatly from the traditional view which usually recognizes only two intelligences, verbal and computational.
Gardner, initially, identified in Frames of Mind (1983) seven intelligences :
(1) Logical-Mathematical Intelligence — the ability to detect patterns, reason deductively and think logically. Most often associated with scientific and mathematical thinking.
(2) Linguistic Intelligence – the ability to use language masterfully to express oneself rhetorically or poetically. Also allows one to use language as a means to remember information.
(3) Spatial Intelligence — the ability to manipulate and create mental images in order to solve problems. Not limited to visual sight, Gardner noted that blind children can possess spatial intelligence.
(4) Musical Intelligence — the ability to read, understand, and compose musical pitches, tones, and rhythms. (Auditory functions are required for a person to develop this intelligence in relation to pitch and tone, but it is not needed for the knowledge of rhythm.)
(5) Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence — the ability to use one’s mind to control one’s bodily movements. This challenges the popular belief that mental and physical activity are unrelated.
(6) Interpersonal Intelligence – the ability to apprehend the feelings and intentions of others.
(7) Intrapersonal Intelligence — the ability to understand one’s own feelings and motivations.
The latter two intelligences are separate from each other. Nevertheless, because of their close association in most cultures, they are often linked together. Subsequent research and reflection by Howard Gardner and his colleagues looked at three other intelligences -a naturalist intelligence, a spiritual intelligence and an existential intelligence. Gardner concluded that the first of these ‘merits addition to the list of the original seven intelligences’ (Gardner 1999).
Naturalist intelligence enables human beings to recognize, categorize and draw upon certain features of the environment. It ‘combines a description of the core ability with a characterization of the role that many cultures value’
Gardner (1983) argued that culture also plays a large role in the development of the intelligences. All societies value different types of intelligences. The cultural value placed upon the ability to perform certain tasks provides the motivation to become skilled in those areas. Thus, while particular intelligences might be highly evolved in many people of one culture, those same intelligences might not be as developed in the individuals of another. Although the intelligences are separated from each other, Gardner claims that the seven intelligences very rarely operate independently. Rather, the intelligences are used concurrently and typically complement each other as individuals develop skills or solve problems. An example is given of a dancer- a dancer can excel in his art only if he has 1) strong musical intelligence to understand the rhythm and variations of the music, 2) interpersonal intelligence to understand how he can inspire or emotionally move his audience through his movements, as well as 3) bodily-kinesthetic intelligence to provide him with the agility and coordination to complete the movements successfully.
Mindy L. Kornhaber (2001), a researcher involved with Project Zero, identified a number of reasons why teachers and policymakers in North America have responded positively to Howard Gardner’s presentation of multiple intelligences. Among these are that:
… ‘ the theory validates educators’ everyday experience: students think and learn in many different ways. It also provides educators with a conceptual framework for organizing and reflecting on curriculum assessment and pedagogical practices. In turn, this reflection has led many educators to develop new approaches that might better meet the needs of the range of learners in their classrooms.’
So, what is controversial about this theory? First, some academics believe that it is not based on sound science or empirical evidence. Secondly, if true, we would have to radically rethink and re-imagine how we teach our children and indeed what we teach them. Learning styles would have to be adapted to suit children with different intelligences. Teachers would be expected to think of all intelligences as equally important. This is in vivid contrast to traditional education systems which typically place a strong emphasis on the development and use of verbal and mathematical intelligences. Thus, the Theory of Multiple Intelligences implies that educators should recognize and teach to a broader range of talents and skills. And Teachers should structure the presentation of material in a style that engages most or all of the intelligences
The theory has been aligned with learning styles in the USA and to a more limited extent here . Wellington College has loosely adapted Gardner’s theories to determine that each child has “eight attributes”, which, it sees, as four sets of pairs: the logistical and the linguistic, the creative and the physical, the spiritual and the moral, the personal and the social.
But not everyone buys the theory.
Professor John White, Emeritus Professor of philosophy and education at the Institute of Education London, believes that the distinctions and criteria used by Gardner are as arbitrary as traditional eugenic theory. “Gardner suggests there are eight different types of intelligence,” White told the Guardian in 2006, “But at no point does he explain how he arrives at this number. Rather than being based on extensive observation, Gardner appears to derive his taxonomy from the cultural world. He also identifies eight criteria that each intelligence has to meet, without adequately explaining how these are derived or satisfied. It’s a grandiose theory that works on an artistic rather than a scientific model.” Most damning of all, as far as White is concerned, is that multiple intelligence theory dovetails nicely with the existing national curriculum. Children can flourish in different areas, such as music, PE and art, and no one need ask difficult questions about the actual content of what’s on offer. Except, of course, for White. “Intelligence is about exercising good judgment in adapting means to ends,” he says. “We all have different goals, and it simply seems confusing to corral thousands of types of intelligence into just eight categories.”, he concluded.
Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, however, provides a useful theoretical foundation for recognizing the different abilities and talents of students. This theory acknowledges that while all students may not be verbally or mathematically gifted, or obviously intelligent using normal accepted benchmarks, many children may have particular strengths in other areas, such as music, spatial relations, or interpersonal knowledge which are valued by them as individuals but also by society.
Approaching and assessing learning in this manner allows a wider range of students to successfully participate in classroom learning and encourages parents and teachers to provide the necessary support to build on pupils strengths and improve their confidence and self-esteem. It is also worth noting how highly employers rate interpersonal skills in the workplace which if Gardner is to be believed requires a particular type of intelligence that can be nurtured and developed. A pity then so few schools do much or indeed anything to focus on this element of a Childs development
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