As a former middle school pupil I have had first hand experience of such schools, however, my experiences do not necessarily represent those of pupils in today's education system. For a start, there was no National Curriculum when I was at middle school and so no Key Stages and their associated tests, we were never inspected by OfSTED and there were no publicly available school performance tables. I plan to investigate whether the middle school is still viable today and how children's educational and social development may (or may not) be affected by the schooling system they attend.
The research so far...
The working title for my research is: A comparative examination of the educational and social advantages and disadvantages of the 9-13 middle school in England
My fieldwork has involved headteachers, teachers, pupils and parents in Dorset.
The research involves comparing 9-13 middle schools with other school types such as the 11-16/18 comprehensive school to investigate whether there are any differences in outcomes between the different school types which might be attributable to the schooling structure, and to investigate elements of best practice which can be applied to middle years schooling more generally and which could have implications for education policy.
The research objectives are:
- To assess whether there are differences between 9-13 middle schools and their counterparts in the two-tier system in terms of:
a) educational experiences and outcomes
b) children's social development and emotional well-being
- To investigate the extent to which any differences identified between 9-13 middle schools and their counterparts in the two-tier system can be attributed to the schooling structure or whether there are other contributory factors
- To draw conclusions as to the educational and social advantages and disadvantages of different middle years schooling systems and to identify areas of good practice which can be applied to middle years schooling more generally
The fieldwork is being conducted within one local education authority area (Dorset County Council) in which both the two-tier and three-tier systems are in operation. The research adopts a mixed methods approach and involves the following:
- A survey of headteachers and teachers to gather views on the merits of the different systems and to investigate the ways in which the educational and social development of children is fostered in their school.
- A questionnaire for pupils exploring their attitudes towards and experiences of school and transfers between schools.
- An interview with an officer from the local education authority to explore the LEA perspective on the different systems of schooling
- A survey of parents' or carers' views on the different systems
- A discussion group with former pupils at Dorset schools