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Education: 4. Role and Function: 1. Functionalism and Neo (New Right) Functionalism

Friday, May 8th, 2020

functionalism

Functionalist arguments about the role of education focus on the various ways education links to other social institutions, such as the family and the workplace, as part of an overall network of connected institutions. The education system is, in this respect, conceptualised as a bridge between these institutions in two broad ways:

1. On an institutional level, modern social systems involve different types of work and must develop ways of allocating and managing human resources to ensure they are used efficiently and effectively (such as not producing too many unskilled workers if there is no demand for their services).

2. On an individual level education functions as an agency of secondary socialisation to, as Parsons (1959) argues, “broaden the individual’s experience” of the social world and prepare children for adult role relationships in the workplace and wider society.

Meritocracy?

For the education system to function efficiently on both levels it must be meritocratic. Rewards, such as well-paid, high status, work, are earned through individual abilities and efforts, such as working hard in school to gain qualifications. Merit-based systems are also competitive: different levels of reward are given for different levels of achievement. Competition must be based on equality of opportunity: if some are disadvantaged, through something like sexual or racial discrimination, society cannot be sure “the best people” occupy the most important, prestigious and well-rewarded adult roles.

A meritocratic system involves, by definition, different levels of reward for different levels of effort and achievement – which means a major role of education is social differentiation; children have to be “made different”, on the basis of their individual merits, if education is to meet the requirements of a differentiated economy (one with a variety of different types of work, each requiring different levels of skills and knowledge). A meritocratic education system always, therefore, involves inequalities of outcome: children must leave the education system with different types and levels of qualifications appropriate to their efforts and achievements. As Parsons (1959) argues:

It is fair to give differential rewards for different levels of achievement, so long as there has been fair access to opportunity and fair that these rewards lead on to higher-order opportunities for the successful”.

Education systems are, in this respect, viewed as functionally necessary for both the individual – as a means of finding their place in wider society – and “society in general” because education performs a vital and necessary differentiation function in advanced industrial societies

The development of mass education is, therefore, explained in terms of functional differentiation. That is, the idea institutions develop to perform particular specialised functions, such as “work” and “education”. If, for whatever reason, the needs of one institution are not being adequately met, tensions develop within the system that threaten its stability and ability to function – the development of industrial forms of work, for example, required a newly literate and numerate workforce and without these skills the economy could neither function nor develop. Where other institutions, such as the family, cannot meet this new requirement system stability is threatened and equilibrium can only be restored in one of two ways:

  • an existing institution, such as the family or religion, evolvesto perform the required function. This involves differentiation that occurs within individual institutions; different roles need to be developed if the institution is to perform its new function.
  • a new institution, such as formal education, arises to ‘fulfil the need’.
  • While the former is always a possibility, the scale of economic change as societies industrialise overwhelms the ability of existing institutions to cope with the new changes and demands, hence, at some point in their development all societies will necessarily develop a specialised institution (education) as a means of restoring system stability.

    The concept of functional differentiation is particularly important because it suggests how functionalists see the broad relationship between economic and educational (or cultural) institutions; the latter develops and adapts to reflect and support the former. One important dimension to this relationship is that differentiation within the workplace is reflected by differentiation within the education system. A general process across all modern education systems is, for example, some kind of division of pupils along academic and vocational lines – a distinction that’s been variously justified by reference to ideas like:

  • natural differences in intelligence and aptitude.
  • Individuals choosing different educational routes: some favour more-practical and some favour more-academic routes.
  • the particular needs of the economy in the sense, structurally, of a need for people to leave education with skills that will fit them to the available jobs.
  • In Britain, for example, the 1944 Education Act that established free, universal, education, explicitly addressed education’s relationship with the workplace through a distinction between:

  • Grammar schools designed for academic pupils who were destined to move-on to University and professional employment.
  • Secondary Modern schools designed for vocational pupils who were destined to follow a practical or technical route into the workforce.
  • This type of functional division is reflected in secondary education systems worldwide:

  • India has both academic and vocational (school and profession-based) routes through secondary education.
  • Pakistan has similarly developed academic and technical routes.
  • Mauritius organises secondary education in a slightly different way but has also developed a distinction between academic routes into the workplace and a form of prevocational education for around 5% of the school population.
  • The separation of academic and vocational educational routes, therefore, reflects the idea of functional differentiation and specialisation in terms of two basic forms of work:

  • professional careers requiring higher levels of abstract knowledge and lower levels of practical expertise.
  • non-professionalwork requiring higher levels of practical expertise and lower levels of abstract knowledge.
  • While in Britain, at least, the rather clunky physical segregation of “academic” and “vocational” pupils into separate schools largely – but not totally – disappeared with the development of Comprehensive education in the mid-1970s, the functional requirement to competitively “sift and sort” pupils of different aptitudes and abilities into different spheres arguably continues with various in-school practices such as streaming, setting and banding and external testing / examinations at 7, 11, 14 and 16 (GCSE).

    While the specific means of “sifting and sorting pupils” may have changed since Davis and Moore (1945) argued that the education system existed to ensure that “those who are most able and talented intellectually” are allocated work roles that offer the highest rewards in terms of income, power and status, the broad sentiment remains true 75 years later. For traditional Functionalism the most functionally important economic roles must be filled by the most able, capable and competent members of society. The relationship between educational systems and the workplace, therefore, is one where “Education is the proving ground for ability and hence the selective agency for placing people in different statuses according to their abilities”.

    (more…)

    Education: 3. The Purpose of Schools

    Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

    The final part of the “Structure and Organisation of Education” trilogy (Part 1: Structure and Organisation and Part 2: Schools, Marketisation and Parentocracy are, as is the way of trilogies, also available) ends with a !Bang! (if by “bang” you mean “a slightly loud noise”) by looking at various forms of school organisation (from the formal curriulum to the informal curriculum, from streaming to cultural reproduction, from Here to Eternity etc.)

    Although the obvious answer to any question about the purpose of schools is “education”, the meaning of education is neither self-evident nor unproblematic: the former because “education” can encompass a wide range of formal and informal types of learning – from explicit teaching about ox-bow lakes in geography to implicit teaching about gendered relationships in the classroom – and the latter because what counts as “education” is always socially constructed and socially-contested. It always reflects, Weber (1922) suggests, what any society considers “Worthy of being known”.

    What constitutes education in any society, therefore – from how it is structured and organised to which ideas are actually taught in a classroom (or, increasingly, online) – is always the outcome of a power struggle between different interested parties: from business and media corporations through political parties to individual parents and teachers. It is, therefore, against this background of conflict and consensus that we need to outline and evaluate the purpose of schools.

    One way to start to do this is through Merton’s (1957) distinction between manifest and latent functions:

  • Manifest functions relate to the things schools are expected to do; in this instance teaching children the knowledge and skills required by adult society. This idea is explored in terms of the nature and organisation of the formal curriculum.
  • Latent functions refer to things not officially recognised as being part of the school’s purpose and may also be the unintended consequences of the way schools are formally organised – an idea explored in terms of the hidden curriculum.
  • (more…)

    Education: 2. Schools, Marketisation and Parentocracy

    Sunday, May 3rd, 2020

    Part 1 of this series looked at a range of general ideas about the structure and organisation of education in our society, through a broadly historical overview of educational development over the past 150 years. In part 2 the focus is on the structure and organisation of different types of school within the education system.

    Over the past 25 years secondary schooling (broadly, 11 – 18) has seen a range of organisational changes we can illustrate by looking at different types of schools now available to parents in both the private and state-maintained sectors in England and Wales.

    A Public School…

    Private sector

    According to Department of Education data (2018/19) There are around 2,400 Independent schools in the UK (out of a total of around 25,000 primary and secondary schools), funded by parental fees – Harrow, for example, charges nearly £42,000 for the 2020/21 school year  – and investment income. Around half of these schools also claim charitable status which gives them a range of tax reliefs and exemptions.

    According to the Independent Schools Council (2015) these schools currently educate around 7% of the total school-age (5 – 16) population and 14% of post-16 students. Independent schools are allowed to set their own admissions policy (the major Public Schools, for example, operate some form of entrance exam selection process in addition to charging fees) and do not have to follow the National Curriculum (although most do, usually in a modified form).

    The leading 10% of independent schools – those affiliated to the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference – are usually known as Public Schools, a label that reflects their origins as schools for the poor.

    (more…)

    Reasons for Declining Divorce Rates

    Thursday, February 6th, 2020

    Historically, the study of divorce rates at A-level has generally been considered in the context of the “decline of the western family” thesis. This, in very broad terms, argues that rising levels of divorce and cohabitation, coupled with falling rates of marriage, add-up to a “crisis of convergence” in family life: one where falling marriage and rising divorce gradually come together to the point where we witness, according to some New Right politicians and theorists, the “death of the conventional (nuclear) family” – the significance of which, among many other things, is the creation of a wide range of “social problems” – from educational underachievement to crime.

    This general thesis, particularly in the last 30 or so years of the 20th century, gained a certain amount of political and sociological traction based on three observable measures:

    1. Declining Marriage: From a post-2nd World War peek of around 425,000 in 1972 the number of marriages in England and Wales fell to around 240,000 in 2019. Although we can add Civil Partnerships to the list, the actual number of these (around 1,000 in 2019) is currently statistically negligible.

    2. Increasing Cohabitation: Around 17% or 3 million families in England and Wales now involve cohabiting couples, living either as an alternative or prelude to marriage.

    3. Increasing Divorce: The post-war period witnessed a huge rise in divorce, from around 15,00 in 1945 to around 150,000 at the start of the 21st century.

    While, as with the case of marriage, there are some anomalies in the general divorce trend caused by changes in the birth rate – such as the mid-1950’s baby boom that significantly increased the population available for marriage (and divorce) – the direction of change was generally and persistently upward.

    At the start of the new millennium, however, something changed.

    In or around 2002/3 the numbers divorcing in England and Wales “peaked” and then began to fall. While marriage rates continued their long, slow and apparently inexorable decline, the numbers divorcing started to fall quite rapidly and significantly.

    And this happened not just in England and Wales but also across Western Europe.

    And North America.

    Divorce, it seemed was going out of fashion in Western societies.

    The question is why?

    Click to find answers…

    Mass Media 3 | The Selection and Presentation of News

    Monday, April 1st, 2019
    News Values
    News Values

    Following hot on the heels of Defining and Researching the Media and The Ownership and Control Debate comes a new set of notes looking at The Selection and Presentation of News.

    When I say “new”, the bulk of the text was actually written around 5 years ago but I’ve updated it slightly to take account of newer research on areas like:

  • News Values – more specifically, Harcup and O’Neill’s (2017) recent re-evaluation of their 2001 study that looked not just at possible changes to old media  news values but also news values related to new media – Facebook in particular.
  • Gatekeeping and the impact of computer algorithms on new media sites such as Facebook and YouTube
  • Neo-Marxism – a few statistical updates relating to concept of hegemony and levels of trust in old and new media.
  • New Right: I’ve expanded this section slightly to include new examples of anti-competitive behaviour in new media and I’ve added a short section on the Cairncross Review (2019) in the context of State attempts to regulate old and media to encourage competition and innovation.
  • Postmodernism: This section has seen a fewer minor changes to clarify things like Goffman’s ideas about Frontstage / Backstage applied to new media and how Baudrillard’s concepts of simulacra and hyperreality relate to news selection and presentation.
  • It’s quite a large file (18 or so pages) and, in places, a little complicated (particularly the postmodernism section). If you use this with your a-level students you may need to check that it’s an appropriate level.

    Otherwise.

    Happy Days!

    Update
    This chapter is also now available as an online flipbook.

    Crime and Deviance Theories

    Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

    A little while back (maybe 5 or 6 years ago – I lose track) I created 3 Crime and Deviance Presentations that were, I like to think, quite ground-breaking at the time for their combination of text, graphics, audio and video – and while they may be looking a little dated now they still have a little mileage left in them. Probably. You can be the judge of that, I suppose.

    Anyway, I think I only ever posted an early version of the Functionalism file and having rediscovered the files on one of my many hard drives I thought it might be nice to update the files slightly, mainly to fix a few little irritating bugettes, such as text not conforming correctly to the original font size and post them here.

    The Presentations, which can be downloaded as PowerPoint Shows (.ppsx) in case you want to use them without the need to have PowerPoint, were, I think, originally designed as some sort of revision exercise, but I could be, and frequently am, wrong.

    (more…)

    Rational Choice Theory | 1

    Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

    This first of two posts on Rational Choice Theory (RCT) provides an overview of a key New Right theory whose central argument about criminal rationality underpins a range of later Right Realist explanations for crime.

    Rational Choice Theory (RCT) is one of a group of theories – including Broken Windows and Routine Activities Theory – that applies ideas developed to explain economic behaviour – in particular the idea individuals are rational and self-interested – to the explanation of criminal behaviour. The theory reflects, as Wilson (1983) puts it, the idea that “some scholars, especially economists, believe that the decision to become a criminal can be explained in much the same way as we explain the decision to become a carpenter or to buy a car”.

    Gary Becker

    While ideas about individual self-interest and rational choices in economic behaviour are well-established, their application to crime and criminal motivations, initially through the work of economists such as Becker (1968), gives them a contemporary twist that can be outlined in the following way:

    1. Offenders are not qualitatively different to non-offenders

    There’s nothing in the sociological or psychological background of offenders that either causes or explains their offending. To take a simple example: while many poor, deprived, individuals commit crimes, many more from the same social background do not.

    A key concept here is agency: the idea people make choices about their behaviour that are neither determined nor necessarily influenced by their social and / or psychological backgrounds. Rather, choices are made in the context of particular situations – particularly the opportunities that are available for the commission of crimes.

    (more…)

    Knowledge Organisers: Media and Methods and Education

    Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

    Back by popular demand and with a brand-spanking new set of Tables covering media, methods and education. Each Unit is by a different author and the quality is, at times, variable.

    Media

    These are pdf files so unless you’ve got a programme that will edit them you’re stuck with the information they have to offer. That said, they’re fairly recent (2015) and so are probably reasonably up-to-date and in line with the latest Specifications. There is, unfortunately, no indication of authorship…

    Ownership of the mass media
    New media, globalisation and popular culture
    Selection and presentation of news and moral panics
    Mass media and audiences
    Representations of the body
    Representations of ethnicity age and class

    Methods

    These are a little older (2009) and again authorship is a little hazy. On the plus side they’re in Word format so they can be easily edited if necessary.

    Experiments and Questionnaires
    Interviews
    Observation and Secondary Sources

    Previous Tables you might find useful:

    Table 1.

    Table 2.

    Table 3.

    Education

    Again, not sure who created these or indeed when they were created. However, they are in Word format if you want to edit them.

    Functionalism and Marxism
    Feminism, New Right, Interactionism
    Cultural and Material Factors

    Previous Tables you might find useful:

    Table 1.

    Table 2.

     

    Families and Households Learning Tables

    Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

    In this set of Learning Tables (mainly created by Miss K Elles) the focus is on analysis and evaluation with a section on application left blank. Students can either add their own examples or the Tables can be used within the classroom to discuss possible applications.

    While the Tables are not as comprehensive as their crime and deviance counterparts, this may simply reflect the fact they’re aimed at AS rather than A2 students (then again, it may just reflect an evolution of the basic technique).

    Either way, you can download the following Tables:

    Role: Marxism
    Role: Feminism
    Role: Functionalism and the New Right
    Role: Postmodern
    Social Policy
    Social Policy (alternative version)
    Marriage and Divorce
    Family Diversity (Issac Carter-Brown)
    Gender Roles: Couples
    Childhood (Anon)
    Births, Deaths and The Ageing Population

    Sociological Theories And Frameworks

    Monday, November 13th, 2017

    This is a web page where you can find a bite-sized run-down of a range of:

    a. Sociological frameworks – from those fairly central to a-level, such as Functionalism, Feminism. Conflict theory, Critical theory and those (symbolic interaction, phenomenology) that tend to be a little more optional.

    b. Sociological theories – some fairly central ones, such as labelling and strain theory and some that are more-specialised, such as disengagement theory.

    Labelling Theory

    The information included for each framework or theory varies – some, such as Functionalism, are just given a brief introduction and general overview while others are covered in much greater detail. Labelling theory, for example, is given:

    1. A short general introduction.
    2. A brief outline of its origins.
    3. A more-detailed overview of its content
    4. A selection of key texts
    5. A short evaluation.

    You might find that some frameworks, such as critical theory,  probably go quite a bit beyond a-level so it’s probably best to review each of the frameworks / theories before you let your students loose on them (as I’ve demonstrated you can link directly to any of the frameworks / theories you think might be useful for your students).

    In addition, the hosting website carries an interesting range of other sociological topics – from general stuff such as What is Sociology, through key concepts such as gender, to Units such as Crime and Deviance.

    Popular Panics and the New Right

    Saturday, November 11th, 2017

    Following the police shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham, widespread rioting broke out during August 2011 in London and many other English cities. If you don’t remember or aren’t familiar with the civil unrest, the BBC has a handy timeline of events.

    I recently came across an Economist article, written at the time and addressing the various political responses to the unrest, called “We have been here before: Centuries of nostalgia for a peaceful, law-abiding Britain” that I think teachers and students will find both interesting and useful for Crime and Deviance for a couple of reasons:

    1. It documents a range of mainly New Right explanations for – and solutions to – the unrest / rioting that you might find useful as a way of illustrating “popular New Right” ideas about crime: an ever-revolving selection of The Usual Suspects – from teachers, through parents to the detrimental influence of whatever is the Popular Music Du Jour (in this particular instance, Rap takes the…err…biscuit).

    2. It draws extensively on Geoffrey Pearson’s very wonderful “Hooligan: A History of Respectable Fears” (1983) to show how, over the past 150 -200 years, the same kinds of “popular responses” to all kinds of civil unrest, disorder and downright deviance appear and reappear at regular intervals.

    Finally, the article draws on Pearson’s work to provide an interesting comparative overview of a range of popular (and perhaps moral if you’re that way inclined) panics that students should find interesting, illuminative and instructive:

    • fears, in the 1840’s, of a rise in working mothers and the detrimental effect this had on the morals of the young (a regular and long-running favourite in the popular press – or Mainstream Media if you prefer – ever since),

    • the “spread of child labour” (a problem not, as you might be forgiven for thinking, because Child Labour! but rather because “it put money in the pockets of impressionable youths”, apparently).

    • contemporary panics around “Rock’n’Roll in the 1950’s or sexual deviancy in the guise of “Peace’n’Love” in the 1960’s.

    Situational Crime Prevention: The (New Right) Theory

    Monday, July 10th, 2017

    In two previous posts (Categorising Situational Crime Prevention Strategies  and Categorising Situational Crime Prevention: Techniques and Exampleswe looked at some examples of situational crime prevention strategies and techniques and this third post examines the theoretical background to situational crime prevention in a couple of ways:

    Firstly, by looking at the broad background in terms of a general “environmental discourse” that encompasses both cultural and physical environments.

    Secondly by looking at a couple of specific New Right approaches – Control Theory and Routine Activities Theory – that flow from this general discourse.

     

    Education and the New Right: The 3 “C’s”

    Thursday, May 25th, 2017

    Working backwards in the alphabet, as you do, the second element to Boyd’s (1991) characterization of new Right approaches to education (the first is here if you missed it) focuses on the “3 C’s”: Character, Content and Choice.

    1. Character refers to the notion of moral character and, more-importantly from a New Right perspective, how to encourage and develop it through the education system. In this respect the socialisation function of education means schools have an important role to play in both producing new consumers and workers and also ensuring children have the “right attitudes” for these roles. Part of this process involves (in a similar sort of argument to that used by Functionalists’) instilling respect for legitimate authority and the development of future business leaders.

    More recently, a refinement on the notion of moral character has focused on what Duckworth et.al. (2007) have called grit, something they define as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals”.

    The idea here is that the combination of passion for educational goals coupled with the desire to achieve them is a key indicator of educational achievement – one they claim is a more-important predictor of “future success” (an idea you might like to subject to critical evaluation) than any other notable variable).

    This claim does, of course, open up a range of critical possibilities for students – from Crede et.al.’s (2016) conclusion that “the higher-order structure of grit is not confirmed, that grit is only moderately correlated with performance and retention, and that grit is very strongly correlated with conscientiousness” to why it should be an attractive idea to New Right approaches.

    2. Core Content: The emphasis here is the establishment of a curriculum designed to meet the needs of the economy, an idea that links neatly into discussion of the role and purpose of the education system. From this perspective the main objective for schools is to adequately prepare children for their working adult lives in ways that benefit the overall economy. This generally involves the idea that there should be a mix of academic and vocational courses and qualifications open to students; in the past this has meant the New Right championing Grammar schools (an idea currently (2017) being revived in New Right political circles) that provided an academic type of education for a relatively small elite (around 20%) of children and Secondary Modern / Technical schools that provided a vocational type of education.

    Currently the vogue is to provide different types of academic / vocational qualifications (such as “ordinary” GCSEs and “vocational” GCSEs) within the same school. For the majority of students the curriculum emphasis should be on some variety of training with the objective being to ensure schools produce students with the skills businesses need (“Key Skills”, for example, such as Maths, English and ICT).

    The New Right is, as might be expected, keen on “traditional subjects” (English, Maths and History) and antagonistic to subjects like Media and Film Studies – and, of course, Sociology.

    3. Choice of school: Parents should be free to choose the school they want their children to attend – whether this be State maintained or private. The basic model here is a business one: just like with any business, those that offer the customer good value will thrive and those that offer poor value will close – or in the current case, “underperforming schools” are forcibly converted into Academy Schools run by a variety of Trusts. When parents exercise choice “good” schools will expand to accommodate all those who want a place and “bad” schools will close as their numbers decline.

    Education and the New Right: The 5 “D’s”

    Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

    If you want a simple, straightforward and memorable (possibly) way to sum-up New Right approaches to education, you could do worse than adopt Boyd’s (1991) characterisation of the “5 Ds” of the New Right perception of the role of education and training in contemporary English / Western societies:

    1. Disestablishment: The school system should be decoupled from State control; private businesses should be encouraged to own and run schools, just as private companies run supermarkets or accountancy firms. The government doesn’t, for example, tell Tesco how to organise and run its shops so the New Right see little reason for governments playing such a role in education.

    2. Deregulation: Within certain broad limits private owners should be free to offer the kind of educational facilities and choices they believe parents want; schools should be “freed” from Local Authority / government control.

    3. Decentralisation: Control over the day-to-day decision-making within a school should fall on the shoulders of those best-placed to make decisions in the interests of their clients – something that involves giving power to those closest to individual schools (governors and headteachers) rather than decision-making being in the hands of those who are remote from the specific needs of such schools (governments, politicians and the like).

    Power, in this respect, is seen to be most efficiently exercised by those furthest away (school leaders) from the centre of government power (because they know and understand particular local conditions and circumstances and can respond quickly to change in a way government bureaucracies cannot).

    4. Diminution: Once each of the above ideas are operating the State has a much-reduced role to play in education and hence national education spending should fall (to be replaced by a variety of localized initiatives – including private, fee-paying, education, local forms of taxation and so forth). This idea dovetails with the idea of “consumer choice” in education and general New Right thinking about the size and role of the State; if education takes a smaller part of the national tax budget people pay less tax and are free to spend that money on the education of their choice.

    5. De-emphasis: With each of the above in place the power of government is diminished (or de-emphasised) with the power to make educational decisions focused at the local level of individual schools.

    NotAFactsheet: Crime and Deviance

    Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

    I thought it would make a change from research methods to put together a few NotAFactsheets on crime and deviance, so here are the first products of what no-one’s calling a “radical new departure in NotAFactsheet production”.

    These three efforts focus on and around Functionalist-type approaches to crime:

    D1. Functionalist Approaches | D1. Functionalist Approaches (includes short video) Functionalism and Crime includes Durkheim on the functions of crime, Strain theory and General Strain Theory.

     D2. Administrative Criminology | D2. Administrative Criminology (includes short video) Administrative Criminology focuses on New Right ideas about crime prevention and management and outlines some general social policies associated with this approach.

    D3. Right Realism Right Realism outlines the Broken Windows thesis – and it’s critics – in addition to noting a range of social policies that have stemmed from a right realist approach to crime.

     

     

    The Marketisation of Education: Branding

    Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

    The development of Academy schools and Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) to oversee the management of such schools has been a well-documented dimension of the marketisation of education in England and Wales over the past 20 years. As such, when writing about the New Right and / or marketisation in an exam this is an obvious example to note.

    What may be less obvious, however, is an idea noted by Warwick Mansell (Is reputation a touchy subject for chain?) when he suggests branding – how “the public” perceive a particular chain of schools and the impact this might have on student recruitment – has become a significant factor in relation to the management of some schools.

    “An academy chain considered declining to take over a struggling school because of the potential risk to its “brand”, a document released under freedom of information reveals.

    The minutes of a meeting in February of the E-ACT trust’s audit and risk committee show senior staff and trustees worrying that the unnamed Bristol school’s “poor exam results could trigger an Ofsted inspection”, which would lead to a “requires improvement” judgment after the takeover “resulting in damage to E-ACT brand”.

    In the end, E-ACT did take on a Bristol primary it now names Hareclive academy, approved by the DfE. It says the discussion about its brand was all part of its “due diligence” and it was pleased to have received the department’s vote of confidence. 

    But the concentration on “brand” may be seen by some as another manifestation of increasing commercialisation in schools. And some might wonder why E-ACT was allowed to expand after Ofsted warned, just weeks before the meeting that it was providing too many of its pupils with a “not good enough” education. The chain lost control of 10 schools in 2014 after an earlier Ofsted report, so its reputation may be a touchy subject.”

    Globalisation: Part 3 – Changing Political interrelationships

    Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

    Conventionally, political relationships operate between nation states in three general areas:

    1. Trade: The development of transnational trading blocs (in North/South America, Asia and Europe, for example) involves some measure of political interrelationship. In the case of Europe, economic interrelationships have developed alongside a range of political interrelationships – the European Union has an elected parliament, bureaucratic structure and single European currency, although member countries may opt out of specific parts of political agreements (the UK, for example, is not currently part of the single European currency).

    On a global level, world trade agreements relating to the movement of goods, access to markets and the like provide some form of regulatory framework for economic activity. In some instances, these agreements override national law (as in the case of the European Union, for example, and the provision for the free movement of labour across national boundaries).

    1. International law: Political relationships between societies also exist at the legal level, not just in terms of trade agreements (which can be legally enforced and tested), but also in terms of areas like extradition treaties, cross-border policing (in the European Union, for example), membership of the United Nations and the like.
    2. Military: How different countries relate to one another in military terms (through cooperation or antagonism, for example) also represents a political dimension to the interrelationship between societies. (more…)

    Family PowerPoints

    Thursday, May 5th, 2016

    As the frequent reader of this blog (“Hi”) well-knows, I collect a lot of stuff on my travels around the web and I store it safely away for times such as this – when I’ve got a blog post to write and nothing to write it about (or at least nothing that takes the minimum amount of effort for the maximum amount of gain).

    So, here I find myself desperately searching one of my seven hard drives (you read that correctly. I collect hard drives. Everyone should have a hobby and mine just happens to be hardware), for something and my eager gaze fell upon these lovelies – a set of six PowerPoints created by Danielle Ord (and apparently modified by Carole Addy), neither of whom I know but if I did I’d give them the credit they deserve.

    (more…)