Thursday, November 06, 2008

Struggling British schools to be spared taking disruptive pupils

Why ANY schools have to take disruptive pupils is the mystery. They should be sent to special classes specifically designed to handle them. What is going to happen now is that good schools are going to be destroyed by having to take young thugs. But reducing everyone to the lowest common denominator is classic Leftism

Poorly performing schools are to receive extra funding and will be spared having to take disruptive pupils, Ed Balls said yesterday. Secondary moderns in particular will benefit from the announcement. The non-selective schools, in local authority areas where grammar schools remain, can apply for the money if they are deemed to be doing badly. It is meant to provide services and role models so that pupils who did not pass the 11-plus do not feel like failures.

The Schools Secretary said he had written to selective local authorities with the highest number of low-attaining secondary modern schools, including Plymouth, Kent, Wirral, Medway, Buckinghamshire and Lincolnshire. His letter acknowledged that some schools had "substantial difficulties" in raising and maintaining attainment because students lacked confidence.

Mr Balls has named more than 600 schools, where fewer than 30 per cent of pupils achieve five good GCSEs including maths and English, as being on his National Challenge register. The schools have been warned that they face closure or being turned into academies if results do not improve. He said some would benefit from 1 million pounds to support gifted and talented pupils. This will be spent over three years in up to 50 schools.

Secondary moderns on the register can apply for up to 1 million pounds of extra funding, compared with 750,000 in nonselective areas. In a further eye-catching initiative, the lowest-performing schools on the register - those with 20 per cent or fewer pupils achieving five good GCSEs including English and maths - will no longer have to take children with behaviour problems midway through the year. Currently all schools must take their share of excluded children.

Mr Balls said: "It's really important that all schools cooperate to tackle the issue of excluded pupils. That's why Sir Alan Steer [who conducted a review into pupil behaviour] recommended that all schools should be part of behaviour partnerships. However, we want to allow schools in the most challenging circumstances to focus fully on raising results."

The Department for Children, Schools and Families said most local authorities with schools on the register had appointed experts to hasten their improvement. Mr Balls said: "We want to support selected National Challenge [sink] schools to develop an expertise that will help them to attract parents and pupils as they grow stronger. "Non-selective pupils frequently have a perception of having `failed' the 11-plus [because they did], and it is especially important to provide excellent role models and to raise aspirations."


Australia: "Free" government education not so free

PARENTS at a state primary school have been hit with unexpected "mandatory" fees to fund basic classroom equipment and resources. Robina State School on the Gold Coast last week wrote to parents demanding up to $120 per student for ink, work sheets and computer software. The first page of the 2009 Resource Scheme Years 1-7 Contract Form demanded parents participate in the scheme or have their child's access to equipment and resources cut off. The second page gave a choice for parents who opted out to pay for and secure themselves the resources and services, including technology licences and classroom readers.

According to the Education Act 2006, state education is to be free. Section 56 allows principals to ask parents for "voluntary" financial contributions. And it demands there be no negative consequences for those who do not pay.

This case has outraged parents, who say it is a mockery of so-called free education.

Education Queensland is unaware how many Queensland schools have made similar demands, citing a lack of data. Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens Associations president Margaret Black believed it was the first time a school had omitted the word "voluntary" and issued the request as a contract. She urged parents to "make sure the word voluntary is included". Only after The Courier-Mail asked about the legality of the contract did Education Queensland instruct the Robina school to change its tune. "The principal has been asked to clarify the statements in the letter to rectify any misunderstanding it may have caused," a department spokeswoman said.

McCullough Robertson Lawyers partner Malcolm McBratney said the school's Resource Scheme appeared to be compulsory. "It's a legally enforceable contract," he said. "It doesn't seem you've got much choice."

Angry parents said the letter was deceptive. "The letter basically aims to blackmail parents into paying the voluntary annual state school contributions," the parents said. "We send our kids to a public school because we cannot afford a private school and the fees. "The school is trying to force parents and caregivers to pay voluntary contributions by sneakily ... calling it the 'resource scheme' and saying there's 'membership' to be had."

Ms Black will seek an explanation from the Assistant Director General for Education. "I'll ask, 'When did voluntary contributions become signed contracts?'," she said. Primary and high schools often send letters to parents in October and November seeking money to shore up resource budgets for the following year.


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