Articles on Education policy

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Most heads could do with some super powers. Ben Northern

Giving super powers to school super-heads is not a panacea

Ten years ago, if a school in England was deemed to be failing, there were three broad responses: send in a team of advisors to support the existing leadership, parachute in a “super-head” to turn the…
Hold on to your seats, it’s academy time! Matt Cardy/PA Archive

‘4,000 down, 20,000 to go’ – the academies drive gathers pace

It was early and still quiet as I meandered around the recent Academies Show in London. Jars of promotional pens and key chains were lined up, while two young people in smocks painted the words “innovation…
Cameron and Gove team up to open a Birmingham free school in September 2013. Paul Rogers/The Times/PA Archive

What are free schools the answer to?

The government’s free school policy, which allows local communities to set up new schools that are funded by the state, has come under attack in recent days by MPs and sparked a row within the coalition…
Maybe I’ll get a better mark if I answer in Mandarin. David Davies/PA

Reforms based on PISA tests alone won’t fix GCSE standards

With the creeping rise of exam results over the past few decades, many have questioned whether standards are really as high as they were in the past. More worrying still is whether pupils in the UK can…
Can I be a puzzle-maker when I grow up? Child with puzzle via Shutterstock

Why 21st century children need to excel at problem solving

It’s no longer enough for children just to be able to read, count or multiply. With computers now doing many mundane repetitive tasks for us, many jobs in today’s world require analytical skills and the…
Teachers don’t have all the answers. Question marks via Shutterstock

We still don’t know what works in education

Education is one of the largest academic research enterprises in England, and yet in over 50 years, research into education has failed to find useful answers to many of the most basic questions about how…
Do I get a pupil premium with that? Chris Radburn/PA Archive

If school meals are free, how do we know who needs help?

As September approaches, primary schools up and down the country are preparing to roll out universal free school lunches for all children in reception, year 1 and year 2. But if all meals are free, what…
Every head could do with a Team Sky to help them. Anna Gowthorpe/PA

Why school systems need to be more like the Tour de France

In The Importance of Teaching white paper in 2010, the government committed itself to developing a “self-improving system of schools”. Four years on there is a risk that a two-tier system will emerge in…
Double Dutch? Toddlers in the Netherlands get preschool language lessons. Valerie Kuypers/EPA

Early years education is a class leveller, not an optional extra

Learning certainly starts at birth, and some believe even before. Care by parents in the first three years of a child’s life is absolutely critical in order to learn how to walk, talk, self-regulate, and…
Now kids, I call this the applied science theory. Shutterstock

Who should teach the teachers?

Who should teach the teachers? The answer seems obvious. The best teachers should teach the teachers in the way that the best cooks teach the cooks. That’s the apprenticeship, the craft or “sitting with…
Random school place generator. Jeremy Brooks

How ballots and banding are shaking up school admissions

As parents across England wait nervously for news of where their children have been allocated a secondary school place, new admissions policies of banding and ballots have come under scrutiny. The recent…
How can ‘disadvantaged’ students engage better in school? www.shutterstock.com.au

Education policy is failing to fix the biggest problem: inequality

The Conversation is running a series, Class in Australia, to identify, illuminate and debate its many manifestations. Here, John Smyth identifies the failure of government policies to tackle the nation’s…

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