School governors’ network

Back to school for Keith Joseph’s successor

James Valentine  |  18 August 2010

The autumn term approaches and for Michael Gove it will be a difficult first day back. The Building Schools for the Future cancellation turned out to be a fiasco and there's still uncertainty about whether all capital investment in schools has been stopped.

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Conservative attacks on local authorities will damage education

James Valentine  |  7 January 2010

We'll hear a great deal about ‘freedom' in relation to schools over the next few months. ‘Every state school could have the chance to free itself from bureaucratic control,' says the Tories' schools spokesman, Michael Gove. At its most extreme we have his notion of ‘free' schools which are supposed to be founded and run by parents, an idea which I think will unravel even before we get to the election. But at a more general level politicians have been talking about ‘freeing' schools for a generation and Labour's academy and trust school proponents have sometimes used similar language.

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Governors and young people need a stronger voice in tackling permanent exclusions in schools

David Chaplin  |  23 July 2009

Secondary schools face a challenge when dealing with violent and difficult students. Disruptive students can affect the learning of their peers and prevent teaching staff from effectively delivering the curriculum, they can also pose a physical and emotional threat to other students if they are involved in bullying or other unacceptable activities in school.

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Low expectations from teachers and governors contribute to underperformance in our schools

James Valentine  |  17 February 2009

Recent research has shown that, even in Labour’s third term, too few children from lower socio-economic groups are getting to university. David Lammy recently made an interesting speech pointing out that low teachers’ expectations can reinforce this imbalance. He is apparently frustrated, for example, by certain schools which, when offered the benefit of induction courses for universities such as Cambridge then don’t take them up, because they think the children won’t “fit in”. His comments struck an immediate chord with my own experience as a governor at an upper school. That is to say, although parental background is the key factor for underperformance, low expectations from teachers and even governors can also play a part.

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The Tories have the right analysis but the wrong answers for education

Oli de Botton  |  3 September 2008

Michael Gove is a sharp politician. His speech this month at the ippr described a society where the state is remote and individuals are unable to shape the services they want. The crucial relationships that sustain our wellbeing are failing; relationships between parents and teachers, GPs and patients, politicians and frontline public servants. In other words, he acknowledged what progressives have always known, that we are all implicated in each other’s lives and that when our sense of the collective break downs our power to effect change evaporates.

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Schools should offer a stand-alone qualification in personal finance

Phil Hall  |  10 June 2008

Earlier this year, Gordon Brown was asked by the Observer if there should be financial education in schools. He responded, ‘Yes absolutely. And I would favour more education in financial management and in financial budgeting generally at school. I'd like to see financial literacy extended particularly through schools and colleges...'

So, what's the government's approach been to date? There is still no statutory requirement for schools to teach financial education and similarly no requirement for the evaluation or testing of students' understanding in this area. Instead, small amounts of ‘financial education' - much of which has nothing to do with personal financial management - are being sprinkled into a number of different subjects such as personal and social education, citizenship and enterprise education.

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Could studio schools be the way to engage teenagers?

Matt Rodda  |  6 June 2008

Despite the very real improvements in education during the last 10 years, many teenagers still switch off at 14 and fail to achieve their potential. Sadly, some young people decide that academic subjects are not for them because they can't see the relevance to the world of work.

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Could studio schools be the way to engage teenagers?

Matt Rodda  |  5 June 2008

Despite the very real improvements in education during the last 10 years, many teenagers still switch off at 14 and fail to achieve their potential. Sadly, some young people decide that academic subjects are not for them because they can't see the relevance to the world of work. This continuing problem manifests itself in the 10 per cent of young people aged 16-19 who are not in education employment or training and in the failure of many others to achieve their potential. At the same time business leaders complain that young people need to improve their soft skills.

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Teacher unions have the power to lead on the issues that matter to kids and teachers

Oli de Botton  |  2 April 2008

I am a committed trade unionist. I am still a member of the NUT despite having left the teaching profession last year. I like Steve Sinnott and I agree with what he says about seeing the child in the round. But there was a problem with the NUT conference this year. A problem that sees teachers pitted against students, parents, the government and the army. In the hyperbolic and easily caricatured atmosphere of a union conference, teachers have suddenly become the reactionary oppositionists of yesteryear, rather than a unifying force for social cohesion in an increasingly fractured society.

We have heard dissatisfaction with a derisory pay offer, we have witnessed a point-scoring, politically motivated assertion that the army are corrupting innocent minds and we have indulged the idea that children are out of control and permanent exclusion is the only answer. It makes it sound as though teaching is only marginally better than eternal damnation. This is not what I signed up for and not what I experienced.

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Progress Labour School Governors’ Network launch

Ed Thornton  |  20 February 2008

School governors will be called upon to play a more ambitious role as they help their schools engage with the wider community, Children's Secretary Ed Balls told a packed meeting at the launch of the Progress Labour School Governors' Network on Tuesday (19 February). Balls said the Children's Plan, published by the government at the end of last year, had a ‘more ambitious view of the role of the school and therefore a more ambitious view of the role of governors'.

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