England’s excellence gaps revisited

. This is a revised and updated version of How should England close its excellence gaps? (January 2018) . . This is a significant turning point in the evolution of national education policy. Former Secretary of State Greening published her social mobility plan Unlocking Talent: Fulfilling Potential (December 2017), immediately following the wholesale resignation of … Continue reading England’s excellence gaps revisited

How should England close its excellence gaps?

. First edition: January 2018  . This is an important turning point in the evolution of national education policy. Departing Secretary of State Greening has only just published her social mobility plan Unlocking Talent: Fulfilling Potential (December 2017) It was preceded by the wholesale resignation of the Social Mobility Commission’s Board, protesting at lack of political … Continue reading How should England close its excellence gaps?

Eight types of ambiguity

. This short post outlines problems with ‘most able education’ – and what needs to change to bring about national improvement. The broad premiss is that, following a period in which comparatively prescriptive, centralised, top-down programmes were de rigeur, the English education sector has become wedded to a market-driven philosophy and ‘school-led system-wide improvement’. But … Continue reading Eight types of ambiguity

Rounding-up: Killer stats and 10-point plan

. This post compiles some of the most recent and telling statistics about the state of high attainment in England. It includes a brief summary of the policy position as it stands ahead of the government’s response to the selection green paper. Finally it outlines a ten point improvement plan which does not involve building … Continue reading Rounding-up: Killer stats and 10-point plan

Do grammar schools close attainment gaps?

.  This experimental post revisits the question whether all grammar schools are effective in closing attainment gaps between disadvantaged students and their peers. Ministers have asserted as much in recent speeches, but they are relying on a single piece of research, now more than a decade old. The Education Policy Institute has countered with qualified … Continue reading Do grammar schools close attainment gaps?

How best to educate ‘poor, bright kids’?

. I included in my last post, on the selection green paper, a set of seven draft principles to inform national policy on educating high-attaining learners from disadvantaged backgrounds. I wanted to lay out a framework that would challenge the thinking of proponents and opponents of selective education alike, to show how it might be possible … Continue reading How best to educate ‘poor, bright kids’?

Be careful what you wish for

. This extended post is about the selection green paper and the prime ministerial speech preceding it. I come at this issue from a different position to most. It is of course essential to ensure that the government’s proposals do not unduly disadvantage the majority of learners. But it is equally important to consider their … Continue reading Be careful what you wish for

Only 5% of primary pupils achieve at a higher standard

. This post is about the new ‘achieving at a higher standard’ headline measure that will now feature in the primary performance tables. Provisional statistics indicate that only 5% of the 2016 end of KS2 cohort achieved this standard. That is disappointing, even allowing for the substantial impact of curriculum reform and new assessment arrangements. … Continue reading Only 5% of primary pupils achieve at a higher standard

Rescue Plan (or how to get from where we are to where we ought to be)

.  This post: Reviews progress to date on white paper policies to improve the education of higher attaining learners Considers some wider implications of the white paper’s commitment to equality of educational opportunity, regardless of background and prior attainment, and Proposes a dedicated national centre, based in a leading university, to specialise in the education … Continue reading Rescue Plan (or how to get from where we are to where we ought to be)

Sir Michael on the most able

.  HMCI Sir Michael Wilshaw devoted his monthly commentary for June 2016 to the education of our most able learners. He has consistently championed the education of the most able in non-selective secondary schools, having instigated two Ofsted survey reports on this topic, published in June 2013 and March 2015 respectively. This new commentary is … Continue reading Sir Michael on the most able

Why isn’t pupil premium closing excellence gaps?

. This post:   Reviews the most recent statistical evidence of attainment gaps between disadvantaged high attainers and their peers. Questions why pupil premium is having no impact on these excellence gaps and Proposes action to close the gaps by raising attainment, so improving the life chances of these learners. .   Introduction I have … Continue reading Why isn’t pupil premium closing excellence gaps?

New Transition Matrices Reveal Worrying Excellence Gaps

. Having spent several years bewailing the limited availability of national data on excellence gaps, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that RAISEOnline has just published transition matrices showing the progress made by disadvantaged learners from KS2 to KS4. It is regrettable that this data has been released only at the point when an entirely … Continue reading New Transition Matrices Reveal Worrying Excellence Gaps

If not grammar schools, what?

. This week’s media debate about the value of grammar schools as instruments of social mobility has been profoundly depressing. For the record, all the research evidence shows that the historical impact of selective education on social mobility has been negligible. The proportion of disadvantaged learners currently admitted to grammar schools remains desperately low: As … Continue reading If not grammar schools, what?