Coming Full Circle: New Labour and primary education

ATL's Coming full circle cover with an illustration of a question mark and arrow

Download as a PDF

Order hard copy

Price: £9.99
Free to ATL members (please log in first)

ISBN: 1 902466 53 5
Code: PR29
Pages: 150
Published: April 2006

This ATL-commissioned research, which revisited 50 primary schools that were previously studied in the early '90s, provides detailed insights into the impact of New Labour's education policies on Key Stage 2. Giving teachers the opportunity to speak out about their experiences of government initiatives, it illustrates that there have been more changes in teachers' attitudes and practices in the last 5 years than in the previous 20 years. Despite criticisms of over-prescription, Coming full circle? demonstrates widespread endorsement by teachers and headteachers of the changes in teaching methods developed through the national literacy and numeracy strategies. Teaching methods have also been enhanced by ICT and the role of teaching assistants.

Teachers perceive that the way in which they have responded to the reforms has contributed to their professionalism. The primary national strategy is welcomed as acknowledging teachers' professional judgement by enabling them not only to innovate but also to put back into the primary curriculum that which had been lost.

A recurrent theme in the research was the perception that education policy is 'coming full circle'. Nevertheless, teachers critical of past practice and supportive of recent gains stress that teaching cannot and should not return to how it used to be. Coming full circle? also provides a timely warning. If the pressures of testing and performance tables are maintained, these will continue to constrain creativity in primary classroom practice and prevent the development of a confident new professionalism by primary teachers.

Members can download the full publication as a PDF below but please note that this is a detailed publication of some 150 pages. You can download a Summary of Coming full circle which outlines all the major findings and conclusions. Or you may wish to download the publication chapter by chapter:

1 INTRODUCTION AND METHODOLOGY
2 THE NATIONAL LITERACY AND NUMERACY STRATEGIES
3 TARGETS, TESTING AND ASSESSMENT
4 THE IMPACT OF ICT
5 THE ROLE OF TEACHING ASSISTANTS
6 THE PRIMARY NATIONAL STRATEGY
7 CHANGING CLASSROOM PRACTICE
8 COMING FULL CIRCLE?
Appendices (a. School data sheet b. Examples of interview guides) and references

MyATL

My role

My sector

My location

Find my branch