March 12, 2010
The Secretary of State for Education, Ed Balls, has ordered education authorities to crack down on school applications searching for lies.
He also set up a whistleblowing hotline to encourage parents to snitch on others they meet at the school gates. Those who are caught out could face community service and a criminal record.
Applicants for grammar school places in Northern Ireland can expect similar action from Caitriona Ruane, Education Minister for Northern Ireland (not the north).
The announcemnt by the Irish News of four Catholic grammar vschools becoming comprehensive was predicted by PACE. Perhaps those parents taking GL Assessment tests last year are rightly nervous this morning.
December 20, 2009
So says Conor Ryan, who describes himself as “A blogger about politics, education, a Dublin-born writer and consultant, former adviser to Tony Blair and David Blunkett on education, based in Bath in the South West of England.”
Citing a Guardian report, http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/dec/10/vote-weakens-sats-boycott
The National Association of Head Teachers, the union that represents many of the heads in primary schools, has already voted to back a boycott of the tests, but is unlikely to go ahead without the NUT.
The tests for 11-year-olds in English, maths and science were introduced in 1995 and have always been controversial. Much of the opposition to the tests stems from the use of results to create league tables.
Ed Balls, the schools secretary, has announced reforms to next year’s tests which will see teacher assessments published alongside the externally marked tests.
Northern Ireland already publish these data. When PACE analysed the results one of the most obvious findings was the disparity between teacher assessments and the externally marked tests. Parents are likely to be misled over their child’s attainment by a significant margin.
Last weeks failure by the local media, including the BBC, to pick up on the dramatic decline in standards of lietracy and numeracy in post-primary schools http://paceni.wordpress.com/2009/12/17/northern-ireland%e2%80%99s-key-stage-3-literacy-levels-crash/ demonstrates the problem of accepting teacher union claims as being representative of their members.
The crying shame for parents and children is that individual teachers do not have the courage to raise their heads above the parapet and speak out.
November 15, 2009
In a shocking revelation in the Sunday Times http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article6917210.ece a report was passed to the government in July, only a few weeks before GCSE results were released, when Balls accused critics of exam standards of “rubbishing the achievements of young people”.
The government-backed study has undermined claims by Ed Balls, the schools secretary, that GCSE standards have been maintained, by showing that some science papers include questions so simple that they require no knowledge of the subject.
Sir Martin Taylor, vice-president of the Royal Society, Britain’s foremost scientific body said:
“If we have science exams that do not test the quality of mathematics needed to do good science, or if we have questions that do not require scientific knowledge to answer them, then we do not have an examination system that is fit for purpose.”
The findings also demonstrated that examination boards were allowing scientifically wrong answers to be marked as correct and that maths was only being tested “in a very limited way”.
Sir Cyril would be aghast at the policy of the Department of Education in Northern Ireland which has removed the statutory requirement for pupils to take GCSE English/Irish or Maths but has made it compulsory for primary school pupils to be assessed using a flawed assessment system form the CEM Centre at the University of Durham.
Richard Pike, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said the maths paper was easier than 11+ practice papers from 1960 with which he had compared it.
“That is an extraordinary indictment of the current UK education system,” said Pike. “We cannot continue to live the lie of ever-increasing standards while businesses struggle to recruit staff with numeracy skills, or who understand the quantitative basis of science.”
Richard Pike, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry
December 8, 2008
Evidence shows that children from the poorest homes hear only 13 million words by the time they are aged four, 32 million words less than children from affluent households.
The figure, given to the government-ordered review of the primary school curriculum, has prompted a campaign to ensure parents spend more time talking to their children and that children struggling to read get more help. Meanwhile in schools the curriculum will move from a subject based approach to a themes based if the progressivists have their way.
While Sir Jim Rose, the former director of schools for Ofsted – the education standards watchdog – who is heading the review, wants to keep the spotlight on improving literacy and numeracy the “progressivist” core in education circles want to move away from traditional approaches. The two are, to a large extent, incompatible.
Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, asked Sir Jim to steer clear of tackling the issue of national curriculum tests for 11-year-olds, but Sir Jim has already told MPs that the tests have been “the elephant in the room” that everybody (mainly teachers) wants to address. He wants to cut the time spent in the last two years of primary school teaching to the test.
No doubt Sir Jim Rose knows that the test is a measure of numeracy and literacy.