On the money?
Vaughan, R. Times Education
(5 June 2012)
“Education providers have thrown their weight behind Michael Gove after he announced that free schools could be run for profit if the Conservatives secure a second term in office.” Gove believes that schools could “move toward” a for-profit model. While the for-profit model is unlikely under the current coalition, Gove said the quality of education would be “augmented by extending the range of people involved in its provisions.” Although teacher unions have expressed outrage at Gove’s proposal, Sir David Bell, who had been education’s highest-ranking civil servant until this year, now supports the measure. Bell “said that the profit motive should be trialled in some of the country’s most underperforming schools before it was rolled out elsewhere.” Others, like Trevor Averre-Beeson, founder of Lilac Sky Schools, an approved academy sponsor that runs the management of two schools for profit and is to take over two more from September, support Gove’s proposal. “It seems completely appropriate that if we do something successful, such as raising pupil attainment or getting a school out of special measures, we would get a bonus on a performance-related contract,” Mr. Averre-Beeson said. “And if we don’t, we would get a fine. I think it makes the running of schools more accountable.” Supporting the measure for the profit motive in schools, a Times Education Supplement opinion piece reads, “So come on, Mr Gove. Make everyone happy. Stop being coy. Allow for-profit providers to run schools. You know it makes cents.”
Gove’s thoughts on a wide-range of educational issues, especially issues related to school privatization and accountability, are addressed in the following video from an oral evidence session for the UK’s Education Committee:
Response: Factors Behind The Success Of Ontario’s Schools — Part One and Part Two
Ferlazzo, L. Education Week
(21 May 2012 & 22 May 2012)
What’s going on in Ontario’s schools? Part One contains responses to this question from a teacher, an administrator, and two parent leaders; Part Two includes contributions from Professor Michael Fullan, a professor emeritus at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto and current special advisor to the premier and minister of education in Ontario, and readers. Professor Fullan writes, “Unfortunately some countries in a hurry to address the issues get the solutions wrong. I call these mistake ‘wrong drivers for whole system reform’. Drivers are policy and strategy instruments designed to ’cause’ improvement in the system. A wrong driver is one that does not work; a right driver is one that does produce improvement. In our work on system reform we have been sorting out what drivers work and which ones do not. This is our conclusion: excessive accountability, individualistic strategies designed to increase human capital, technology and ad hoc policy solutions waste valuable time and resources and often make matters worse.” Other respondents point to support for teachers and involving students in the creation of assessments as reasons for the success of Ontario schools.
The following video provides an overview of some of the items discussed in Part One and Part Two of “Factors Behind The Success of Ontario’s Schools”:
Annual appraisal plan includes observing teachers in classroom
Arlington, K. Sydney Morning Herald
(27 April 2012)
Australia is implementing its first national guidelines for performance assessments of teachers, giving them a clear understanding of 1) what they will be expected to achieve each year and 2) how their performance will be measured. Every teacher will set goals for the year, have their performance reviewed, and provide evidence in support of their performance. (Evidence will include improved student results and feedback from students, parents, peers or supervisors on goal attainment.) Classroom observations will also be carried out. In return, teachers will receive constructive feedback and may be eligible for performance bonuses. National consultations of the document, developed by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL), will be held before it is implemented next year. Anthony Mackay, the chair of the AITSL, argues for “recognizing and supporting the best” teachers here.
In addition, below is a video from AITSL about the desired outcomes of teaching standards:
The step by step integration of the inclusion
Belz, N. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
(11 April 2012)
The debate over the inclusion of children with special needs in regular schools is still ongoing in Germany. All parties agree generally with inclusion of children with special needs in heterogeneous school settings, although they do not agree with how, to what extent, and the speed at which it can be implemented. Germany agreed to the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2009), with inclusion being a part of that agreement. In 2011 the conference of German cultural ministers gave a recommendation for an inclusive school system but devised no concrete plans for the states to realize it. The representative of the monitoring office for the rights of persons with disabilities at the German Institute for Human Rights declares that none of the German states have had an inclusive school system until now. Only 22.3% of the children with special needs were taught at a regular school in 2010-2011. The remainder special needs students were still taught at special schools. There are some schools that have a good inclusive system, but Germany is still far away from full inclusion. (The European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education provides information about the development of inclusion in Germany.)
The following video from Deutsche Welle highlights the Regine-Hildebrandt school in the German state of Brandenburg, showing “that it is possible to bring disabled students into the mainstream public education system.”
Charter schools ‘harmful’ says study
Davison, I. New Zealand Herald
(14 April 2012)
Despite an academic group’s insistence that charter schools “may do more harm than good to the under-achievers,” the New Zealand Government “has recently reaffirmed its keenness to implement charter schools…” Under the National-Act agreement, New Zealand will be implementing charter school reform in areas that are traditionally low-achieving—South Auckland, Christchurch East, and possibly Wellington. “The academic group welcomed the Government’s focus on the need to address educational achievement through wider social and economic policies,” but they believe the narrow focus of the educational achievement data could end up increasing the educational inequities charter schools aim to reduce. The Government, however, countered that there were many different models of charter schools worldwide. Said Act Party leader and Associate Education Minister John Banks, “For our New Zealand model we are taking the best of the best ideas from the most successful charter schools, as well as from the most successful schools in New Zealand.” The same academic group also said that charter schools were a “radical departure” from the principles of social democracy and civic participation.
Despite the debate about charter schools, this video highlights how charter schools “remain a mystery” for many New Zealanders, whereas this video is an interview with Head of Education at Aukland University, Dr. Airini, discussing the aforementioned poll and the New Zealand charter school movement in general.
Big class compensation coming
Steffenhagen, J. Vancouver Sun
(3 April 2012)
According to new regulations in British Columbia, “teachers who have more than 30 students in their classes next year may opt for extra pay, additional preparation time, more professional-development money or extra funds for classroom supplies.” Under Bill 22, which passed last month, teachers will earn $2,000-to-2,500 for each additional student. Some tout the cost-saving measures of the bill. For example, the president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association wrote, “If an extra 29 students can be spread around into oversized classes, that will be $2,000 less than the salary of an additional teacher.” Others, including many teachers, believe that the plan will not lead to improved student learning outcomes. (See how some teachers feel about Bill 22 here.)
As the video below shows, Bill 22’s imposition of report cards has caused confusion in British Columbia:
Scotland instituted an “independent, self-regulating professional body for teaching after the decision to bring it into line with organisations such as the General Medical Council.” The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) will have greater flexibility and power when dealing with teachers who have “have fallen short of the standards of conduct or professional competence,” according to the UK edition of the Huffington Post
. The Chief Executive of the GTCS, quoted in Scotsman.com, said, “We now have full responsibility for current and future professional standards; we determine the qualifications for entry to teaching; we accredit courses of teacher education; we determine the ‘fitness to teach’ of teachers and applicants for registration; and we have a duty to bring forward a system of Professional Update for registered teachers.” Also, see the video below from the Press Association: