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Choice the key in education today

31/07/2012 Joanna
Many professionals in teaching jobs across the UK are currently enjoying a well-earned rest after a busy summer term.

However for some, the next school year has already begun following the government's decision to launch a summer schools programme to help struggling pupils ease into secondary education.

In all, up to 65,000 pupils are being assisted to make a smooth transition between primary and secondary school at almost 2,000 centres offering "brain training".

This programme is aimed at helping the 42 per cent of disadvantaged students - those eligible for free school meals or in care - who have failed to meet the required level of attainment at the end of primary school.

Summer schools, however, represent just one of the myriad ways in which the coalition government is attempting to raise attainment levels.

One of the most high profile is the Academy - a publicly-funded independent school, free to run itself outside the remit of the local authority.

What lies at the heart of this new way of approaching under-achievement is the idea of providing greater choice to teachers, parents and pupils.

Choice has seemingly become the key principle of the coalition's education strategy - with Academies being joined by Studio Schools, Free Schools and others in offering alternatives to the norm.

?Studio Schools and Free Schools

Just a few weeks ago for instance, education secretary Michael Gove was announcing a new wave of Studio Schools backed by large firms including Hilton Hotels, Michelin and Aston Villa Football Club that will be opening in 2013 and 2014.

These will offer an alternative to parents and their children, who may well be struggling in a more traditional school environment, to develop real-world employment skills through work placements.

"Studio Schools are playing a vital role in equipping young people with the skills and experience that they need to succeed in a competitive jobs market, through combining mainstream qualifications with real experience of the world of work," Mr Gove said.

At the same time, the first of 102 new Free Schools will be opening - all-ability state-funded schools established by committed teachers, charities, parents and education experts in response to demands from the local community.

"Free Schools are driving up standards across the country. Now more and more groups are taking advantage of the freedoms we've offered to create wonderful new schools," the education secretary enthused.

In recent weeks, the opposition has even raised the idea of the Service School which would have a cadet force on site, outdoor training facilities and specialise in subjects such as international affairs, history or physical education.

?Service Schools

Labour's shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said: "We are exploring how we can give more of our young people the opportunity to benefit from the skills, talents and insights of our service community.

"The 'service ethos' emphasises the importance of character formation and high ethical standards, as well as the development of crucial skills such as team-working."

A spokesman for the Department for Education responded by telling the BBC that it was "already working to bring ethos and talents from Armed Forces into our education system to help raise standards".

What is clear is that, for those looking for teaching vacancies over the coming years, choice will very much be on offer for them too.

Whether this is in helping to develop a new direction for the curriculum at an Academy or assisting children to learn practical skills in a Studio School environment, new ways of approaching jobs in education are being developed all the time.

Even those who feel they have something to give but do not have qualified teacher status are being offered opportunities, following the government's decision to extend to Academies the same freedom to open up teaching vacancies to non-QTS job seekers.

As Mr Gove said, "change is coming".

Posted by Charlotte MichaelsADNFCR-2164-ID-801419496-ADNFCR
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