Author Archives: Alex Feakes

Opinion: Summer schools? Little more than a sticking plaster

Nick Clegg’s conference announcement of £50m to fund summer schools for the disadvantaged caught the headlines (even in the Daily Mail!), and received some support in editorials and from some Lib Dem bloggers. However, though it might be a crowd pleaser and a nice idea, in truth it’s little more than a sticking plaster for deeper problems.

Would I have them rather than nothing at all? Possibly, but I’d rather the money stayed in the Pupil Premium where it is at least targeted through mechanisms (schools) that are already set up to identify and address students needs. Perhaps even

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 2 Comments

Opinion: The flaw at the heart of the Higher Education White Paper

Get your hands on a copy of the Higher Education White Paper and take a look at what the university sector might look like in the future. The government is promising a shiny-bright student-focused experience for all as you make your well-informed choice from a multitude of quality providers jockeying to meet your every higher education need. Welcome to Uni-Mart, where the student -consumer is king.

Except… their consumer experience won’t feel very regal under these proposals, because this White Paper contains a major flaw: it wants to encourage competition between HE institutions in the belief that a …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 18 Comments

Opinion: LEA governors under threat

The debates about schools and education so far in this parliament have largely focused around free schools and academies, with occasional diversion into the content of the curriculum and the E-Baccalaureate. I’ve touched on some of these issues before, but just whilst there’s still time (just!) for a change in the Education Bill as it passes through the committee stage in the House of Lords, I wanted to highlight the threat posed in the Bill to school governors appointed by Local Education Authorities. I should say at this point that I have been an LEA appointed governor …

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Opinion: Early years intervention is a smart move

It’s unusual for my morning radio alarm to bring me to wakefulness quite so abruptly as it did today with the coverage of MP Graham Allen’s report on giving disadvantaged children the best start in life. Something so important being given leading coverage is good news.

Although it probably isn’t news to most working the sector, nor many Liberal Democrats I suspect, it is very welcome that high-profile, cross party attention is now being given to idea that early intervention to improve social and emotional development will yield great dividends for
the child and society later in its life.

The report …

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Opinion: Answers on no more than 2 sides of A4 (part 3)

In the last part of my series of articles on The Importance of Teaching schools White Paper published by the government last month, I want to look at the proposals for changes to the measurement of schools’ performance. The first two pieces were on exclusion and the range of languages included in the proposed English Baccalaureate.

Contextual Value Added

The value added by schools is in many ways more important that the actual raw results achieved – is a school good because its students have got the results commensurate with their potential when they entered the school, or because …

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Opinion: Answers on no more than 2 sides of A4 (part 2)

In my earlier article, I looked at the new proposals for dealing with school exclusions set out in The Importance of Teaching schools White Paper, published by the government last month. Two other areas of concern in Paper, which otherwise contains some good ideas, relates to the curriculum changes and the measurement of schools’ performance.

Curriculum – the broad academic core

The White Paper gives some welcome attention to the breadth of the curriculum students study. Although the freedoms proposed for schools elsewhere in the paper allow them to adopt their own route, it is proposed to encourage the …

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Opinion: Answers on no more than 2 sides of A4 (part 1)

In the first of a series of three, school governor Alex Feakes looks at elements of the recent education white paper.

The Importance of Teaching schools White Paper published by the government last month has lots going for it and has attracted the qualified support of many in the teaching profession. As a discussion paper, however, there are still quite a few wrinkles to be ironed out. Here’s one:

Exclusions

Like many secondary school governors who have been on disciplinary panels, I occasionally have had to confirm the headteacher’s decision to permanently exclude a student from the school. If the …

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Opinion: for the want of a nail

Joining the traditional Nativity story of revelation followed by deliverance, this festive season we have been able to enjoy even more revealed truths about our world courtesy of Wikileaks, the Daily Telegraph and more or less any senior Army officer near a microphone.

Although there are moral and technical differences between these sources of information, they have each attempted to lift the veil to reveal the ‘truth’ behind the public face of diplomacy, coalition governance and military strategy. But have we liberals been consistent in our responses to these revelations?

With the diplomatic cables released through Wikileaks, there’s been a strong …

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