in Education: The Making Of Great Schools
just a few of these issues: safe schools, how to better integrate
technology into the curriculum, extending the school day
and the school year, how much homework is too much, figuring
out successful strategies to develop community-based schools,
finding foreign language and science teachers, managing gender
disparities in achievement and coping with testing.
Sound familiar? These concerns have been the stuff of staff
development meetings and educational administrator conferences
here for years, as teachers, principals and superintendents
struggle to adjust to an ever more demanding, and swiftly
changing, educational environment.
What’s different in this comprehensive
and scholarly book, obviously destined for academic and policy-making
circles, is that the educational system in question is
that of the United Kingdom, which has in recent years been
as convulsed by upheavals as our own system.
So the authors tackle many of the same questions and problems
that have been the focus of similar research projects here,
reaching many of the same conclusions. Particularly interesting
was the calendar developed by one school, which offers a
sequence of eight-week academic terms followed by two-week
vacations, with only a four-week summer break, as a means
to make instructional time more efficient.
Other British schools
have experimented with having the school day start at 8 AM
(commonplace here, but not there, where 9 AM has been the usual
start time), offering homework clubs and after-school study
support as part of an effort to deliver more effective academics
to an increasingly diverse and often needy student population.
While the British have looked to America for models on
how to deliver gifted and talented education—notably through
the Johns Hopkins University National Academy for Gifted
and Talented Youth—and managing magnets and charter
schools, British educators have turned their focus to
France and Germany for inspiration on recasting their
vocational education system.
This book would be a fascinating read for anyone interested
in international education, and comparative education issues;
through this exploration of the British system and its challenges,
it is perhaps easier to identify precisely what educators
in America need to do.#
Excellence in Education: The Making of Great Schools
By Cyril Tayor & Conor Ryan
(David Fulton, Publishers, London,
UK 2005) 311 pp.