Tradition please, plus technology

The prediction that schools would respond to the "education market" by becoming more traditional has not proved to be totally accurate.

Three researchers who have been monitoring the impact of the market revolution in three areas of England since 1993 admit that schools have not evolved in quite the way they anticipated.

The three, Philip Woods and Ron Glatter, of the Open University, and their colleague Carl Bagley, of Staffordshire University, will tell the BERA conference that although there is now stronger emphasis on exam performance and homework, not all the changes are consistent with traditional English schooling.

"Much depends on the particular school or local competitive arena," they argue. "Some schools have introduced or expanded setting or banding. Others, however, have reduced the amount of setting or banding. Equally, we have not detected a consistent trend towards more authoritarian forms of relationships - through discipline policies for example."

Woods, Glatter and Bagley say that the increased importance of securing and maintaining a good reputation has prompted a general interest in pupils' appearance, regular assemblies and achievement days. But "modernist" trends are also evident. "Schools are concerned to ensure that in certain ways they are presenting both a modern image and a modern curriculum. In particular, the importance of offering the introduction to modern technology that many parents and pupils want...is understood," they have concluded.

The Public Market in England: School Responsiveness in a Competitive Climate, by Philip Woods, Carl Bagley and Ron Glatter.

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