President's blog

Back To The Wrong Future at the LIBDEM Conference

I don’t know whether you spotted the announcements at the LIBDEM conference  last week about the pupil premium.

First we had Sarah Teather announce an increase to the pupil premium:

http://www.libdems.org.uk/latest_news_detail.aspx?title=Sarah_Teather%E2%80%99s_speech_to_Liberal_Democrat_Autumn_Conference&pPK=0b20f466-bd30-4abc-842a-3a273aed6f5c

Then the next day Nick Clegg decided how much of the new money should be spent:

http://www.cypnow.co.uk/Education/article/1094026/lib-dem-conference-2011-clegg-announces-50m-summer-school-scheme/

 Mr. Clegg referred to 'catching pupils up with their literacy' in a fortnight's summer school.

It does strike me we have been before with summer schools for 11 year olds and it didn’t work the last it was tried in 1997. The NFER evaluated the impact of and concluded the following:

Summer Literacy Schools were introduced as a pilot scheme by the Government in the summer of 1997 in an attempt to improve children's literacy skills at the age of 11, the time of transfer from primary to secondary education. The initiative was evaluated by collecting the pupils’ results from the national test taken in May and comparing these with results of a similar test administered in September. Results for a control group who had not attended summer schools were also analysed. The analysis revealed that the scores of both groups declined significantly between the pretest and the posttest, and no significant difference in the extent of the decline was found between the summer school pupils and the control group. Further research is needed on the possibility that the transition from primary to secondary school is associated generally with a significant decline in attainment.

( see http://www.independent.co.uk/news/summer-reading-schools-failed-to-raise-standards-1295079.html )

 

Thus we have a government that doesn’t seem to want to learn from the past, continues to subject schools to central dictat about spending, contradicting its own rhetoric about autonomy, and ignoring the fact that spending on early intervention is far more effective. Allocating the £50m to, for example, expanding Reading Recovery as a guarantee to all schools would have a far greater effect, as the research also shows.

Let me know what you think.

David

( now Immediate Past President - so I need to change the name of the blog!)

 

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