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Reinventing Schools, Reforming Teaching

From Political Visions to Classroom Reality

By John Bangs, John MacBeath, Maurice Galton

Routledge – 2011 – 214 pages

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    978-0-415-56134-1
    September 16th 2010
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    978-0-415-56133-4
    September 17th 2010

Description

What lessons can we learn from the relationship between policy-makers and schools over the life of the ‘New’ Labour and its predecessor Conservative government? What happened to ‘Education, Education, Education’ as it travelled from political vision to classroom practice? What are the lasting legacies of 13 years of a reforming Labour government? And what are the key messages for a coalition government?

These are the questions addressed to the architects of educational reform, their critics and the prophets of better things to come. The 37 interviewees include ministers past and present, journalists, union officials, members of lobby groups and think tanks. Reinventing Schools, Reforming Teaching considers the impact of educational policies on those who have to translate political priorities into the day to day work of schools and classrooms. The authors argue that an evidence-informed view of policy-making has yet to be realised, graphically illustrating how many recent political decisions in education can be explained by the personal experiences, predilections and short-term needs of key decision-makers.

The interviews, which explore the dynamics behind the creation of education policies, cover a wide range of themes and issues, including:

  • policy-makers' attitudes to schools, the staff who work in them and the communities they serve
  • the drivers of politicians' reform agendas and the constraints on radical reform
  • the shaping and reshaping of curriculum and assessment
  • the search for a more effective marriage between inspection and school self evaluation
  • the relationship of academic research to policy making
  • how a vision for teaching and teachers might be constructed for the 21st century

Contributions from leading figures including; David Puttnam, Kenneth Baker, Estelle Morris, Gillian Shepherd, Jim Knight, Pauline Perry, Michael Barber, Peter Mortimore, Judy Sebba, Paul Black, Mary James, Kevan Collins, David Hargreaves, Mike Tomlinson, David Berliner, Andreas Schleicher, Tim Brighouse, Conor Ryan, Keith Bartley, Michael Gove and Philippa Cordingley are woven in with the insights of teachers and headteachers such as Alasdair MacDonald and William Atkinson.

The book's findings and proposals will be of interest not only to professional educators and those with an interest in the current and future state of education but to those interested in the process of policy-making itself.

Reviews

‘A ripping good read benefitting as it does from extensive research amongst the main actors responsible for shaping the educational landscape over the last twenty years. The authors have constructed a compelling narrative detailing with the tortuous and sometimes convoluted route pursued by education policy makers and civil servants over the last two decades. The book provides both original insights and intelligent commentary.’ – Sir William Atkinson, Headteacher Phoenix High School, Hammersmith and Fulham

‘Education, education, education! No administration can have ever set out its stall more clearly than the incoming Labour Government of 1997. This wonderfully informative book details the triumphs and disappointments that characterised the thirteen years that followed. In doing so it provides an invaluable guide to the do’s and don’ts of what should continue to be a defining policy focus for any ambitious Government in the twenty first century.’ – Lord David Puttnam, Film producer and Labour politician

‘Here is a "behind the public facade" insight into how education policy makers at the turn of the millennium were really behaving and thinking as they attempted to shape the future of our schools. Easy to read and with illuminating commentary. Any student of educational policy will want to have a copy.’ – Sir Tim Brighouse

‘This book is a delicious mix of fresh insights and high-class gossip about education policy-making under New Labour. Key figures speak with startling frankness as the authors uncover the real story behind changes that affected the lives of every child and teacher.’ – Judith Judd, former editor of the Times Educational Supplement

‘This is a terrific book. It asks the question: how can bad policy be formulated by so many, for so long, over successive governments? If we are ever to learn how to improve schools and enhance the profession of teaching we must look at the mistakes of the past, so well documented here, and learn lessons from them.’ –David Berliner, Professor Emeritus, Arizona State University

‘A must read for anyone who is interested in an empirical look at the long-term effects of educational policy at a national level. The nuanced reflections of those who participated in policy and those who experienced the consequences of policy make this book timely not only for England, but also for every other country that is struggling to improve education.’ – Karen Seashore, University of Minnesota, US

'For anyone interested in how government really works and the myriad of factors that go into making policy, this book offers a treasure trove of insights based on candid commentary from those who were really there. It should be read by everyone who wants to understand education policy, whether in England or beyond.' – Ben Levin, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Education Leadership and Policy Deputy Minister of Education for Ontario, Canada

‘Those now concerned with shaping education policy should read this book! I love the well-documented emphasis it gives to the importance of teachers. It is teachers who deliver and determine the quality of education, and it is to them politicians must turn as they look for a way to raise pupil attainment.’ – Baroness Pauline Perry, Conservative politician and former Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector

Contents

1. Architects, Critics and Prophets 2. In the Beginning was Euphoria 3. Can Schools do it All? 4. In the End Teachers are on Their Own 5. Inventing and Re-Inventing the Curriculum 6. Get me Out of Here 7. Promoting and Delivering Value for Money 8. Going Global 9. There's Nothing Rational about Decision Making 10. And Now for Something Completely Different

Author Bio

John Bangs is Assistant Secretary in Education, Equality and Professional Development for the National Union of Teachers, UK.

John MacBeath is Emeritus Professor and Projects Director for the Commonwealth Centre for Education at the University of Cambridge, UK.

Maurice Galton is Professor Emeritus and Senior Researcher for the Commonwealth Centre for Education at the University of Cambridge, UK.

Name: Reinventing Schools, Reforming Teaching: From Political Visions to Classroom Reality (Paperback)Routledge 
Description: By John Bangs, John MacBeath, Maurice Galton. What lessons can we learn from the relationship between policy-makers and schools over the life of the ‘New’ Labour and its predecessor Conservative government? What happened to ‘Education, Education, Education’ as...
Categories: Curriculum Studies, Education Policy & Politics, School Leadership, Management & Administration, Education Studies