Education

Selling our schools: the ABC of privatisation

Issue section: 
Issue: 

As we head into the general election campaign it's hard to put a cigarette paper between the education policies of the three main parties. They all offer the same diet of privatisation and cuts.

Sponsorship of academies has enabled a series of national and multinational corporations to gain reputational value. Lucrative contracts for other education services have flowed.

An inspector galls

Issue section: 
Author: 

Ofsted, the schools inspectorate, has never been at the top of teachers' Christmas card lists.

But its popularity is reaching new depths with the introduction of a harsher inspection framework.

The new criteria use the blunt instrument of exam data to critique schools' performance. While this has been true to some extent since Ofsted's Tory-induced inception, it has always in the past been tempered by an awareness of the great challenges facing working class schools. But now the "value-added" progress enabled by teaching and support staff working in the most difficult conditions has been deemed irrelevant.

Not lost in translation

Issue section: 
Issue: 

At the time of writing, UCU members at Tower Hamlets College in East London have been on all-out strike for three weeks.

Our campaign started in June when we received notice of £2 million cost efficiency savings and cuts to over 40 posts and 1,000 English for Speakers of Other Languages (Esol) places. Our branch began the ballot, fearing cuts. But then the news of what was proposed hit us late on a Friday afternoon and we all went home in shock.

Teaching Labour a lesson

Issue section: 
Author: 

In education, young people from working class backgrounds are struggling with overcrowded classrooms, poor resources and overstretched teachers.

Without the advantages of educated families or private tutoring, their choices on leaving school are narrow. Tuition fees make progression to university an impossible dream for many and the education on offer in further education colleges is increasingly directed to narrow, utilitarian "employability" skills, at a time when there are precious few employers taking people on.

Further education: Time to expand, not cut

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

London Metropolitan University is facing massive funding cuts after an audit by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) discovered that university management had been submitting inaccurate data.

Funding depends on student numbers but they have a very tight definition of a student: to qualify, students must have taken all the assessments in all their modules.

HEFCE discovered retrospectively that London Met had been submitting the number of students deemed capable of progressing, which is not the same thing as those who actually complete their course. It turned out that thousands of students didn't qualify for funding. As a result, London Met must pay back £38 million in overpaid grant and faces losing around £20 million a year.

Top-up fees - Education as luxury

Issue section: 
Issue: 

A recent BBC poll of 53 university vice-chancellors reveals that two thirds want the top-up fee cap to be increased from the current £3,000.

More than half of those polled would like the fees to rise to at least £5,000, with some even calling for either a £20,000 cap or none at all. The poll coincides with the government's announcement that fee levels are to be reviewed this summer.

The right to learn

Issue section: 
Author: 

The recession is raising major concerns in all areas of government policy. The adult education sector is no exception. Over the past two years 1.5 million publicly funded adult learner places have been cut. This has particularly affected those who are disabled, the elderly, second language speakers (Esol) and working class students in general.

Government ministers may be running around asserting that it's only the odd Pilates or French evening classes that are being cut, but a closer look at the figures shows that this is a myth, alongside the idea that it's only the well off who will be affected anyway.

Class, food and poverty

Issue section: 
Author: 

You won't be surprised to know that I don't have much in common with Jamie Oliver.

He, after all, is an internationally renowned chef, while my cooking skills are so bad that on occasions I have been known to burn water. He has a media fortune estimated to be worth a cool £25 million, while according to the latest correspondence from my bank I am part of its toxic debt.

City Academies - still touting for business

Issue section: 
Author: 

The crisis of international capitalism will have a myriad of unforeseen consequences, one of which will be its impact on the privatisation of public services.

In education the battle around the privatised city academies is set to intensify. In two simultaneous, but apparently contradictory, developments the government has announced that it is expanding the academies programme to include a further 70 secondary schools, while many private sponsors are reported to be having second thoughts about their involvement. Something clearly has to give.

SATs - now end testing at 11

Issue section: 
Author: 

When education secretary Ed Balls announced the abolition of Key Stage 3 SATs examinations for 14 year olds this month virtually no one came to their defence.

One teacher quoted in the Times Educational Supplement| described "tears of happiness", while a headteacher told his English teachers to "let them enjoy Romeo and Juliet" rather than focusing obsessively on the set scenes.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Education