8 May 2013
The Queen’s Speech today looks set to be a relatively sedate affair. As Stephen Tall observes, “the Coalition is now pretty much intellectually dead” when it comes to its legislative agenda. Enthusiasm for pushing new ideas has been replaced with a business like determination to deliver what is already underway.
14 March 2013
CentreForum has announced that it will be establishing an independent Mental Health Commission to examine the state of mental health care provision in England.
Through the Commission, CentreForum will set out a liberal approach to mental health care, and evaluate the effectiveness of and progress made by the government's mental health strategy 'No Health Without Mental Health'.
The Commission will be chaired by former Care Minister and CentreForum author Paul Burstow, and spearheaded by up to six highly reputable mental health and social care experts and parliamentarians.
Professor Stephen Lee, Chief Executive of CentreForum, commented:
"The human costs associated with mental health issues are enormous and have a deep personal impact on all those affected. I am delighted that someone of the stature of Paul Burstow has agreed to lead this important initiative on behalf of CentreForum."
The Commission will conduct its investigations over a period of 12 months starting in April 2013.
27 February 2013
One child in five in England reaches the age of 16 lacking the basic skills in literacy and numeracy that are vital for their future success.
That is twice as many as other leading OECD countries including some, like Canada, which have very similar demographics to the UK.
Getting policymakers to tackle this "tail of underachievement" is the focus of an important new book, 'The Tail: How England's schools fail one child in five - and what can be done', edited by Paul Marshall, chairman of ARK Schools, and supported by the think tank CentreForum.*
The book contains contributions from 19 leading educational thinkers. It is being launched today [27 February] by a cross party panel that will include Education Secretary Michael Gove, Schools Minister David Laws, and Chair of Ofsted, Baroness Morgan of Huyton.
'The Tail', published Profile Books, reveals the extent to which schools are failing to raise the achievement of the lowest performing 20 per cent of pupils. It finds that the "tail" exists in every local authority and across every type of state school, and includes children from a range of backgrounds.
The book identifies that economic disadvantage is not the only factor in under performance. Irrespective of high levels of disadvantage, the approach taken by some local authorities, such as Tower Hamlets, has led to schools achieving a striking improvement in attainment while schools in other areas, such as Knowsley in Merseyside, perform strikingly worse.
The book calls for action to address the highly variable performance of local authorities across the country. Its suggestions include getting policymakers to replicate the success of London Challenge by creating a network of new Regional Challenges in the poorest performing regions. If all local authorities matched the effectiveness of Tower Hamlets, it is calculated that the number of children ending up in the "tail" each year would fall from 103,000 to just 30,000.
Moreover, whilst raising attainment for pupils overall, research commissioned for 'The Tail' shows that effect of academy conversion on the bottom quartile of pupils has been negligible.
The book calls for a concerted effort from government and school leaders to reduce the size of England's "tail" and sets out a number of ways that this can be achieved.
Michael Gove said: "This book is a compelling, at times moving, and immensely persuasive manifesto."
David Laws said: "This is an absolutely fantastic book which addresses the biggest challenge in English education. The essays shine new light on the problem of England's tail of low performance, and challenge policymakers and schools to rise to the challenge."
Lord Adonis, the architect of the academies programme, added: "Eradicating the tail of poor education is the key priority for our schools. This book tells us how to do it."
Editor of 'The Tail' Paul Marshall said:
"It is essential for all of society that we reduce the size of the tail. Our country needs to be much more ambitious for all our children. Poor education not only blights the lives of the children concerned but denies us the talents of a huge section of our population and imposes huge lifetime costs on society."
"We need a step change in ambition and expectations across the board, from ministers to civil servants, local authorities, school governing bodies and teachers."
* Pupils in the "tail" achieve fewer than five D grades at GCSE level.
NOTES TO EDITOR
Visit www.thetailonline.com for further information.