“As a teacher and trainer slurping the alphabet soup of CPVE, YTS, NVQ, GNVQ and BEC in the 80’s and 90’s I failed to question the underlying inequalities of narrowly focused quasi-skills criteria, preferring the certainties of the well constructed and cross referenced NVQ portfolio ‘owned’ by the candidate and ‘signed off’ by the internal verifier.”
I don’t believe you were alone in this.

Lifelong Learning Matters

A guest blog by Alison Iredale, Senior Lecturer at Oldham College

I am grateful for Ann’s previous post on John Dewey’s influence on learning (http://annwalkerwea.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/educational-thinkers-hall-of-fame-john-dewey/).

In this post I want to offer a personal perspective related to his work on democracy and education. Some of this post appears in an article about Routinised Practices, part of my PhD thesis.

While researching Dewey at the start of my doctoral studies about 4 years ago I came across an address by Richard Pring, the soon to be retired Director of the Oxford Department of Educational Studies, to an Escalate conference in Glasgow in 2003. He recalled being blamed by Keith Joseph for the low standards in schools, due to teachers being introduced to the works of John Dewey in his department. Having just been knocked sideways professionally by Dewey’s writing myself after 20 years in vocational training and teaching I…

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Pride's Purge

The destruction of the NHS is not going to be Nick Clegg’s worse legacy. He’s done something even worse.

Language really, really matters.

Don’t worry, I’m not talking about being snobby over misspelt words or wrongly placed apostrophes. I’m talking about language affecting us in real ways which can have real-life repercussions on massively important things like our health, our well-being, our happiness.

Words really can change things in concrete ways. 

There are recent examples in politics where just one little word has destroyed a political party for a generation.

In Labour’s case, in the 80s, it was the word ‘loony‘. The ‘loony left‘ haunted every Labour politician until Blair and New Labour sunk it forever by being worse than loony. They became ‘moderate‘.

In the Tory’s case it was the word ‘nasty‘ – a term coined in 2002 but which…

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The highlights, again:
Universal Credit; “Unworkable” – “Disaster” – “Social Meltdown”

Birmingham Against The Cuts

The coalition’s welfare reforms have been heavily criticised by 17 charities and non-profit organisations in a report to Birmingham City Council. The report says that the reforms make child poverty targets “unachievable” and the Chief Executive of Birmingham CAB has warned of “social meltdown” following the reforms. The Castle Vale Tenants Alliance say

The cumulative effect of these changes on the citizens of Birmingham, at this point, is only speculative. It is fair to envisage however that the reforms will have a largely detrimental effect upon thousands of individuals and families who will suffer as a result of the cuts.

Logic says that the reductions will lead to an increase in crime and there may also be a potential increase in people who become dependent on alcohol or illegal substances. There may be an increase in family breakdown, poverty, ill health, domestic violence and even a potential rise in…

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The D4E has Mr Gove’s surreal agenda to prosecute. So this is not a betrayal by them. It is a betrayal by the governing body who would appear to come out of this as spineless liars. The Head, appears to be similarly tarnished.
This is an LEA school, so it will be interesting and instructive to see what response Birmingham City Council will offer. If I were a CEO of an organisation wherein my employees and officers planned to undermine operations, they’d be out. Disbanded. Sacked.
My opinion.

Ask Parents First

Parents who have been campaigning since May 2012 for a say in the future of their community school, learnt last night that the Secretary of State signed an academy order for the school months ago, despite there having been no consultation of any kind, and despite there being no sponsor or funding agreement in place.

Parents at West Heath Primary in south-west Birmingham have been campaigning since the spring against proposals to convert to a sponsored academy after it emerged that their school had been targeted for forced conversion by the DfE.  Parents soon learnt that plans were well-advanced despite not having been informed, but at no time did the Headteacher or Governors tell them that an Academy Order was already in place. The parents,  who have the support of their MP Richard Burden and local Councillor Brett O’Reilly, appealed to Governors and the Headteacher to stand up to the…

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Satire, barely. It is so obvious! Really.

Pride's Purge

(satire – barely)

The government has announced a package of measures to boost the economy and reduce unemployment by making it easier for employers to kill and maim their staff.

The coalition is hoping by scrapping health and safety regulations more job opportunities will be created for the long-term unemployed by making it easier for employers to get rid of their existing workers by killing or seriously injuring them, in what the Government is calling a ‘blitz on blood-red tape.’

From April 2013, new binding rules on both the Health & Safety Executive and on local authorities, will exempt thousands of businesses from making sure their employees don’t lose parts of their bodies while at work.

Business Minister Michael Fallon said:

Today’s announcement injects fresh impetus into our drive to cut through the red tape preventing employers from maiming their staff. We have identified the parts of people’s bodies we…

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Lifelong Learning Matters

The text below is the Workers’ Educational Association’s response to the Richard Review of Apprenticeships

Firstly the WEA welcomes the opportunity to consider feedback to government on the future of the apprenticeship programme.  It is very important that all who are involved in policy delivery have a clear and shared vision of the role of the modern apprenticeship programme in our education system, our economy and society.

Apprenticeships can benefit all sections of society and many occupational groups have newly adopted the apprenticeship scheme as a means of developing the skills we need for the future.  However participation in apprenticeships is very unequal whether you look at gender, ethnicity age or disability.

There are some gaps between supply and demand.  To address some of these gaps the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) strongly supports the emphasis on integrating wider learning into the workplace and the recognition of lifelong learning processes outlined…

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Hmmm, do charity shops really need slave or enforced labour? Doesn’t this rather undermine their ethos and degrade, somewhat, the meaning of charity, and what is meant by being charitable.
Enforced labour is not voluntary labour, it is slavery, it is unethical and it is wrong.
In my opinion, of course.

Izzy Koksal

Forget second hand furniture – the British Heart Foundation is the place to go if you want to understand the reality of workfare. I popped along to my local store this afternoon in the hope of speaking with someone about their experience of workfare. The policy director of the BHF had announced that every store had people on work placements from the government’s various schemes and so this seemed like a good place to start. Speaking with the manager, she looked around the room and counted those on Mandatory Work Activity, ‘1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 today’ she informed me, adding ‘we do have pure volunteers as well’. I certainly had come to the right place to witness workfare at work. Three men were at the back of the room hammering at a wardrobe, a young woman was answering the phone and arranging for donations to be collected by the van, another woman was…

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It is amazing what a change in the political complexion of a large political entity like a city council can yield. Suddenly decisions previously unchallenged despite the great cost to the council tax payer run into scrutiny and the warning words of practitioners and stakeholders are heeded.
Imagine how the nation might benefit from a change of governance, from one which has lost support even upon its lack of popular mandate, to one with the confidence of the electorate. Enough said.

Education Workers

IWW Education Workers were recently at the forefront of raising awareness about issues surrounding the wiping out of budget deficits of newly-converted academies. These issues have led to the City Council’s decision to put the creation of 8 academies on hold. If the original plans had been allowed to stand, £1.3 million of taxpayers’ money, which was owed to the council by the schools, would have been written off with the new academies starting with a financial clean slate. This would have meant the people of Birmingham subsidising schools which are no longer accountable to the local community and which are often run by private organisations which have little, if any, stake in the areas in which their schools are based.
One related issue which has not been raised so far concerns redundancies in schools about to become academies. At least one of the 8 proposed academies has…

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Birmingham Against The Cuts

On Saturday, Birmingham PCS disabled members will be doing a soup kitchen stunt and leafleting session in Birmingham City Centre, calling for an end to attacks on disabled workers & people.

Saturday 8th September

By Waterstones, corner of New Street and High Street, city centre Birmingham

Disabled workers have come under attack from this government, with thousands of workers being made redundant as Remploy factories close – 90% of Remploy workers made redundant in the previous cuts two years ago have been unable to find new work as the recession increases competition for remaining jobs.

As part of the cuts to welfare, disabled workers face losing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) as it gets changed to Personal Independence Plan (PIP) – with a reassesment test that will be run by ATOS, the IT company that has been the focus for protests against the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) assessment for Employment…

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Birmingham again proving itself to be the forge of progressive and innovative ideas in the sphere of civic governance. Taking the argument beyond pro- and con- and instead to define how an enlightened local authority manages change to meet the needs of its citizens. Our city motto is ‘Forward!’
Understand why.

Ask Parents First

It was announced in an article in the Birmingham Post earlier this month that the education scrutiny committee at Birmingham City Council will begin an inquiry into academies. Councillor Brigid Jones confirmed the plans today in a television interview for BBC Midlands Today. (Also reported were Birmingham City Council’s plans to develop a co-operative model that will bring together schools and academies in the city, there is more on this in an earlier post here).

The inquiry will be launched in September and will be headed by Councillor Anita Ward. The Birmingham Post reports that the inquiry will not be about whether the Council is for or against academies, but rather how they should deal with them.

The draft Inquiry Outline cites the key question as;

In the light of schools in Birmingham becoming academies what role should the council play to support all schools and children. New strategic…

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