In the early 1990s, it was still possible for Ministers to argue that early-childhood education was a luxury the taxpayer couldn’t afford. Although Britain’s best nurseries were renowned and studied round the world, there was little empirical evidence demonstrating their concrete, ongoing benefits for children. For most families, meanwhile, a mixed bag of pre-school provision was on offer via a classic postcode lottery.
By 1997, with a General Election looming, the Conservative Government had begun a substantial programme of nursery investment and regulation. The Effective Provision of Pre-school Education project was commissioned to find out what types of provision and early experiences were most effective. Read more ›
If you want to change what teachers teach, should you change the curriculum, or change the assessment? For the last three years, all six-year-olds in England have had to take a Phonics Screening Check test, which they can either pass or fail. The introduction of this test by the coalition government was controversial, as there is much debate over the use of phonics in the teaching of reading. This year’s results have just been heralded as a victory for phonics as a greater proportion of children passed. However, if we look back at the evolution of this policy, as I have done in a paper presented last week at BERA and now published in the Oxford Review of Education, we can see that the purpose of the Phonics Screening Check has always been surrounded by confusion.
Read more ›
This post is co-published with The Conversation
As part of its ongoing inquiry into academies and free schools, the Education Select Committee recently published a report that it had commissioned from Jean Scott and me on conflicts of interest in academies.
We found that real and perceived conflicts of interest are common in academy trusts. These range from instances where individuals benefit personally or via their companies from their position in an academy trust, through to more intangible conflicts that do not directly involve money. Read more ›
Is the management of universities much different to the management of other sorts of big, complex organisations? In my new book, The Hallmark University (IOE Press), I argue that it is (or should be) recognisably different – although the best-run commercial organisations have many things in common with the best-run universities. Accounts of what it’s like working at Google sound a lot like working in a university. Read more ›