The school autonomy debate won’t go away – nor should it

Teacher with School pupil[467]

Chris Husbands

It’s one of the most difficult questions in education policy: how much autonomy should publicly-funded schools have. The debate has been re-ignited by Labour’s newly appointed shadow secretary of state for education, Lucy Powell, and the Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw. Lucy Powell, looking ahead to 2020, argued that there was a strong case for local authority oversight of schools, something the left of the Labour Party have held dear; Michael Wilshaw was sharp in his condemnation: this would “return schools to the middle ages: the horse has bolted on that one”; local authority responsibilities, he maintained, should be confined to admissions and safeguarding.

Long before he became Prime Minister, David Cameron argued that improving standards depended on giving real power to schools. Read more ›

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Posted in curriculum & assessment, Education policy, Evidence-based policy

Lucy Powell calls for greater accountability of academy chains. More red tape or….?

Melanie Ehren.

During her first speech in post, Lucy Powell told her party’s conference in Brighton that academy chains would be made accountable. In her speech she doesn’t say what this accountability would look like, but obvious proposals would include inspections of the trusts in charge of academy chains and a greater monitoring role for the Regional Schools Commissioners. Read more ›

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Posted in Education policy, Schools

AHELO, Agoodbye: league tables, power and the market

Chris Husbands.

One of the universities I worked in ran an advertising campaign for which the strapline was ‘It’s not the letters after your name that matter: it’s the name after your letters’. At the time, it attracted a good deal of criticism from within the university. This was reducing higher education to a mere positional good, placing value on the degree only in terms of its relative value against other universities. It was the language of competition and league tables, not the language of the intrinsic worth of higher education.

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Posted in Chris Husbands, Further higher and lifelong education, International comparisons

Bruner scores a century!

Chris Watkins

Yes, Jerome Bruner, currently Professor at New York University, will turn 100 on October 1. And in the snappy headline to this blog, it’s his scoring (writing) which has been one of the main contributions to so many lives and disciplines in that time (only a third of a million mentions on the web!). I’m not going to attempt to write Jerry’s story in full, but I would like to use this occasion to highlight a few aspects.

Jerome Bruner

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Posted in Special educational needs and psychology, Teaching

Making sense of the Coalition: read all about it in the London Review of Education


Chris Husbands

It has conventionally been said that Coalition governments are unable to undertake radical change. The assumption is that the need for trade-offs between governing parties, to prioritise compromise and consensus over clarity and conviction, lead to a tendency to preserve the status quo.

But this appears not to have been the case in the United Kingdom after 2010. In its policies on early years, schools, training, and higher education, the Coalition Government was nothing if not radical. The Academies Act, passed in the first weeks of the government’s tenure, using parliamentary procedures designed for emergency legislation, represented a decisive, irrevocable break with governance arrangements in English education which had lasted, with modifications, since the 1944 Education Act.

Towards the end of 2010, the Coalition made similarly stark changes in the funding of higher education, tripling the cap on Read more ›

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Posted in Education policy, Research matters
This blog is written by academics at the UCL Institute of Education.

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