Category Archives: Uncategorized

Blogging elsewhere from January 2017

This is a note to say that this blog is now suspended in terms of new content. I will continue to blog on my company blog here.

This blog will remain here as an archive of materials, including research articles and book chapters that are not available elsewhere.

Over the years, I’ve been particularly critical of Teach First, free schools and school-centered approaches to initial teacher education (such as Schools Direct).

I’ve also blogged a lot about music education, arts, general education issues and technology.

You can also download my PhD from 2004 which I know folk enjoy reading ;)

I’ll look forward to seeing you all over on the UCan Play site.

Next round of music education hub spending delayed to end of November at the very earliest

Last week, I made an enquiry to Arts Council England about the future of music education hub funding. As many will know, the existing round of funding comes to an end at the end of March 2016.

I received a reply today. It’s not that surprising but it does confirm that any decision about future spending on music education hubs will have to wait until after the announcements surrounding the spending review (that’s on the 25th November 2015).

The official response was as follows:

I can now confirm that information regarding the funding for music education hubs will not be available until after the spending review announcement on 25th November 2015. Following this however, unfortunately we are unable to guarantee a specific date when we can send out definitive funding information to music education hubs.

Two great job opportunities at the Love Music Trust

The Love Music Trust is looking to appoint a new business director and a new administrator. These two vacancies are exciting opportunities for individuals to help shape and develop the work of the Trust in new directions. Full details can be found here. Please pass these details onto folk who are looking for an exciting new job in the worlds of education and music.

Desperate tactics as Schools Direct continues to flounder

Here’s a copy of an email that the DfE has sent to anyone registered on the School Direct (SD) applications portal. It is encouraging those who might already have applied for a mainstream PGCE to switch towards SD in an desperate bid to fill the many outstanding places on this untried, untested programme.


This email has caused quite a stir in the ITT community. It seems like a deliberate attempt to poach students from PGCE routes for Gove’s favoured SD route. It also contains many inaccuracies:

‘Competition for training places is high’. No! Not for a Schools Direct place. In fact, when asked a parliamentary question on the 24th April 2013 about how many students had been recruited, Mr Laws’ best answer was, “The National College for Teaching and Learning will be publishing data on how many applicants there have been for Schools Direct places starting in September 2013 shortly”. In private meetings, DfE officials have been pushed to provide this information and but have refused on countless occasions. It seems clear that they have massively under-recruited but do not want this news getting out at this point; it would clearly be detrimental to those students considering this route. But the key question is, of course, why is the programme under-recruiting?

‘You can train as a teacher with an expectation of a job once you qualify’. No! You can expect whatever you want, but all the schools I have been in touch with are not offering any SD student a job following their training. Many schools have been put off from partaking in this programme because of this DfE-inspired myth.

‘You could receive a bursary of up to £20,000!’ No! Only if you teach one of a very few shortage subjects.

‘Or even be paid a salary’. No! I’ve yet to hear of one school offering a training salary of the type that the old style GTP offered.

All this is very sad. The UK had a very high quality programme of HEI-led of initial teacher education delivered in partnership with schools. This has slowly been dismantled by Gove for ideological, not educational, reasons. Anyone who has been following this blog will have read the views of other significant people in the educational community who are warning of a crisis in teacher training if this continues. Recently, Professor Sir Robert Burgess, Vice Chancellor of the University of Leicester, has written directly to Michael Gove about his concerns.

Schools Direct is the latest ill-thought through, hastily implemented, and pretty much unworkable idea that Gove and his new crony, Charlie Taylor, have come up with. Anyone with an ounce of common sense and knowledge in this area will know that it is bound to fail. Yet in another parliamentary question asked to Mr Laws on the 24th April 2013 he couldn’t even confirm that a formal external evaluation of Schools Direct would be commissioned.

Interestingly, of course, the email didn’t encourage students who had applied for Teach First to also apply and transfer for the Schools Direct programme. Funny that.

What should the leaders of our Faculties of Education do in response to this? Well, UCET did issue a response to this email (although today this seems to have been withdrawn from their website). My view is that all universities that are involved in Schools Direct should withdraw their staff and other resources from it immediately. We are only shooting ourselves in the foot by engaging with this scheming and manipulative approach to teacher training.

Whilst they are at it, all universities should refuse to cooperate with Ofsted until the obvious political bias of and influence on their work has been examined and removed. They are not an independent watchdog anymore and their judgements cannot be trusted.

Gove, Wilshaw and Taylor. What a damming testament to the state of initial teacher education in this country.

ISM urge Ministers to think again on the EBacc

It’s great to see one of our national music education organisations fighting back against the hastily imposed EBacc. The ISM is reported by the BBC today to have written to Nick Gibb on this matter. You can find the BBC report here and the ISM present their own report here. I’ve written to Deborah Annetts today to make her aware of some of the stories that you have kindly sent in. I’m sure she will find them interesting.

In the meantime, if you haven’t found time to contact your local MP on this matter – what are you waiting for! As I wrote about here, it is a simple job to send them an email and outline your concerns. Please fight for the future of music education in this country.

Are you good at thinking ahead?

What’s in store for education over the next fifteen to twenty years? We were asked to consider this question – albeit put across in a more eloquent way – during our Division day at the Institute of Education yesterday.

As usual, it made me wonder about the nature of individual subjects, curriculum development and various recent political announcements. It prompted me to write the following which I shared on our Division wiki and repeat here for any of you out there who may be interested.
Continue reading

Estelle Morris in today’s Guardian

Estelle Morris has written an excellent piece in today’s Guardian which I would highly recommend to all readers with an interest in the UK education system and, more generally, in curriculum development within educational policy.

She highlights a number of weaknesses in the Conservative party ‘policy’ (or should that be lack of policy, as we really are having to guess what precisely they are wanting to do) in respect to their policy on curriculum development and implementation. Her belief is that the QCDA may be the shortest lived quango of all time should the Tories come to power. But, worryingly given her political status and position in the educational world, she seems none the wiser than the rest of us about who might take responsibility for shaping future iterations of  curriculum frameworks.

Continue reading

MMU/ESRI Summer School for Researchers

Director: Professor Maggie MacLure
Monday 19 – Friday 23 July 2010,
Education and Social Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
The Summer Institute will be of interest to researchers and research degree students, particularly in education, the social sciences and the health and caring professions.
We are pleased to announce that the outline programme, keynote abstracts and further details are now available. These can viewed online at: