Poverty, class and education

This conference presentation examines problems with some of the most popular theories (ECER 2012, Cadiz)

Two recent articles, written as part of a teacher research project in northern English schools with high levels of poverty, explore (i) the impact of Ofsted inspections, and (ii) hidden sources of support within the extended family and neighbourhood.



In late 2013 a leaked document from Michael Gove's chief adviser revealed the strange set of ideas influencing government policy. This was analysed in an article for Education for Liberation Bad science, worse politics. One important strand was a return to discredited theories of genetically transmitted intelligence, analysed in another article The zombie theory of innate IQ.



Academies Commission reveals: a system which is not promoting improvement, is unjust and secretive, and out of control.
The Academies Commission, set up not to question the academy programme but to help it work better, has in fact revealed serious problems of achievement, school admissions, school improvement, how sponsors are chosen, financial irregularities and secrecy, and poor management. It condemns the casual attitude of the Coalition Government towards managing academies, which are becoming a law unto themselves.
The Commission calls for new powers for local authorities as ‘guardians’ of local interests and ‘champions’ of children and familie. These include helping decide who runs schools and whistle blowing when things go wrong.
Click  Academies Commission  for a comment and detailed briefing note.  

Academies and achievement: setting the record straight 

This research paper challenges the claims that:

It digs below the headline statistics to examine the curriculum and examination entries of schools, and the attainment of different groups of  pupils.

It exposes the myth that the schools they replaced were predominantly low-achieving schools in poor neighbourhoods. Even before the new wave of academies created under Gove, this is untrue of half the predecessor schools.

Official evaluations have failed to question academies’ very heavy use of ‘equivalent’ qualifications which seriously inflates attainment figures. Academies depend for their ‘success’ on the ‘gaming’ that Gove claims to oppose.

Key findings include: