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Marxism Against Postmodernism in Educational Theory

Marxism Against Postmodernism in Educational Theory



Neoliberalism in Crisis? Current Educational Issues and Responses

Wednesday January 22nd 2014, 10–4pm

University of East London, Stratford Campus

CASS School of Education, ED2.04

Convenors: Tony Green and Alpesh Maisuria

10.00-10.15: Registration and Introduction


Nick GrantMichael Gove: Doing The Right Thing: Is Michael Gove mad or bad?

He is certainly despised as Secretary of State by most of those public servants delivering state education. But is this simply because his policies do not fit empirically with what professionals know works in practice? Is Gove simply mad, blind to what he is doing to children and adults in schools, colleges and universities? If so does he simply need a reality check classroom job-swap for a period?

Alternatively, is Gove forcing through a wholesale attack on education for reasons which are consistent with a hostile free-market politics, and which are deliberately painful for professionals. Is Gove doing the right thing for his class interests?

This presentation will elaborate on why and how Gove represents an unavoidable systemic challenge, and some thoughts on how best to respond.


Stephen BallPhilanthropy, Education Policy and Democratic Deficit

The paper will draw on research which focuses on the participation of philanthropic and business organisations in new arenas of education policy. It will argue that policy is increasing opaque, unaccountable and elusive new actors use there financial and moral resources to ‘make’ policy in new ‘globalising microspaces’. This involves shifts in the methods of policy – what Bill Gates calls ‘social capitalism’ – and changes in the form and modalities of the State.

12.25-1.30: Lunch Break


Tristan McCowanAlternative universities in Latin America: is radical higher education possible within the mainstream system?

In recent years a number of experimental university courses and institutions have been established in Latin America. These experiences have aimed to address the injustices of access to higher education, but also to transform conceptions of knowledge and engage more strongly with local communities and social movements. The Landless Movement in Brazil, for example, has established its own teacher education programmes and a variety of other HE courses in partnership with public universities, and since 2008 the Brazilian Federal Government itself has established four alternative universities. These institutions, however, operate within the mainstream system and are thereby constrained by dominant forms of institutional structure and accreditation. On the other hand, other initiatives – such as Unitierra in Mexico – are unconstrained by conventional institutional forms but face other challenges of funding and recognition. This paper reflects on the dilemmas faced by radical educators around the world of whether to act within or outside the mainstream.


Spyros ThemelisBetween neo-fascism and poverty: education and hope in Greece in times of debtocracy

This paper examines the social, political and economic situation of Greece after the first bailout package it received in May 2010. It links the rise of neo-fascist politics with the deterioration in socio-economic conditions for the majority of the Greek people and suggests that both these processes are approached as aspects of the attendant restructuring of class relations. Contrary to the organised politics of fear and the pathologisation of the Greek situation attempted by dominant political agents, the paper identifies some elements of hope. Specifically, it focuses on the role of education in resisting the hegemonic transformations imposed onto Greece and discusses the possibilities for the creation of an alternative future based on prefigurative politics of emancipation and liberation from the current impasse of neoliberal capitalism.

3.40-4.00: Plenary, Review and Closure.

The seminar is free and open to all but places are limited.

RSVP Veronica Burton:

The UEL is a 15minute stroll from Stratford Station. Here is a map and transport details:


Posted here by Glenn Rikowski


The New Left Book Club:

Marxism Against Postmodernism in Educational Theory

Marxism Against Postmodernism in Educational Theory


Neoliberalism in Crisis? Current Education Issues and Responses


Speakers include:

Stephen Ball

Nick Grant

Tristan McCowan

Spyros Themelis




22nd January 2014


University of East London

The Cass School of Education

Stratford Campus

Room ED2.04.


All welcome, but RSVP to Veronica Burton:

Co-convenors: Tony Green and Alpesh Maisuria


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Time to Scrap All SATs


Press release from the

Nick Grant 07958.542872
Jon Berry 07721.040631

Now that Key Stage 3 SATs are gone it’s…

The Anti-SATs Alliance is launching its campaign to finally abolish all SATs testing in schools.

On Wednesday 12 November in London children’s author Alan Gibbons, Islington primary school head Sue Seifert, author Warwick Mansell, and Camden parent Phoebe Watkins will get the campaign underway

“There was jubilation in secondary schools last week when Minister Ed Balls scrapped Key Stage 3 SATs for 14 year-olds,” explains organiser Nick Grant, “but there was anger in primary schools that the tests remain for 7 and 11 year-olds.”

“The Anti-SATs Alliance’s new year ambition is that staff and parents will boycott SATs in primary schools in 2009. They are past their sell-by date. We also want school league tables to be banned.”

“We believe that the government wants to keep Key Stage 2 SATs so that league tables can continue to set school against school in the educational marketplace. They can scrap Key Stage 3 tests because GCSEs provide the raw data for secondary league tables.”

“But SATs have no educational value. They are too crude to give students or parents any useful assessment of progress. They constrict the curriculum and teaching styles. Their only purpose is to embed wasteful competition as the core ethos in education – when co-operation is the natural ethos in schools.”

“The Anti-SATs Alliance is planning more meetings across England and Wales and a national petition for all school stakeholders.”

” UK Ministers simply do not understand how hated SATs are. Kids are bored and stressed by them. Parents are misled to believe in them. Teachers are fed up of the importance given them. Meanwhile, we believe that UK Ministers could do worse than watch season four of the HBO TV series The Wire, which shows in graphic detail how tests wreck young people’s educational experience. This is reinforced in Linda Perlstein’s excellent book about a typical US school – ‘Tested’.”*


The London meeting will be held in the Small Hall of Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, opposite Euston station at 7pm. Free entrance. Press and media welcome.



Press Contacts:

Jon Berry


Jubilation in secondary schools!

Despair in the primaries


The Anti-SATs Alliance believes that this is how today’s announcement by Minister Ed Balls, that KS3 SATs are to be scrapped with immediate effect, will be felt in school communities.

Teachers and parents of secondary age students will join them in joyful release at this news.
“At last we are freer to get on with some real teaching”, claims Harrow High School Assistant Headteacher Jo Lang.

Sidcup mum Teresa Grey was elated. “Not a moment too soon!” she said. “Consistent fear of failure has marred both my children’s experience of school. They both excel at things which are not covered by SATs.”

Daughter Eleanor is in Year 8. “It’s really good news because SATs are so boring,” she sighed, “and they put us under unnecessary pressure.”

But Leeds mother Sally Kincaid was not so happy. “The last year of primary school should be the most exciting time to learn for a young person, but my daughter will spend hour after hour rehearsing SATs in Year 6.”

Rosa herself was delighted to learn that these would be her last SATs, but upset that she will still have to go through with them in 2009.

Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen observed that, “None of the media interviewers ever seem able to ask the government why it’s OK for English children to have to do SATs but Welsh and Scots kids don’t have to do ’em. Interestingly, Jim Knight talks of ‘the country’ doing SATs.  er…I don’t think so, ackcherly.”

Edinburgh University academic and author Terry Wrigley said that, “This is a tribute to a sustained anti-SATs campaign, as well as a sign that the government are desperate to recover some popularity. It helps to open up some more space for real education.”

NUT Acting General Secretary Christine Blower said: ““Now I would like him to understand that the whole testing system needs fundamental change. I call on Ed Balls to suspend all primary school tests and commission a comprehensive and independent review of testing and assessment, and to include fully all school communities in that review.”

The ANTI-SATs ALLIANCE will continue to campaign against the retention of these pernicious tests in KS1 and KS2.


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