This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

Gove aims to publish more data on schools

At a recent media briefing, by Chris Parr

Schools will have more data about their performance published than ever before under the new government, the secretary of state has told SecEd. Michael Gove has previously

stated his intention to retain but reform league tables, and it appears any new accountability system will contain more detailed data about school activity.

SecEd pressed Mr Gove on how he would monitor the effects of academy freedoms if hundreds of “outstanding” schools suddenly acquired academy status, some- thing the secretary of state wants to see happen (see below and page 1). He said: “We’ll publish, I hope,

more and more data about school performance overall so that you can properly hold to account not only individual schools, but also politicians for what has changed. It seems to me that the evidence is pretty unambiguous so far that schools which have acquired acad- emy freedoms have improved faster than other local authority schools.”

He continued: “I’m sure SecEd

and others will be able to see in one, two or three years how freedoms are used, how standards have been driven up, and I hope there will be more transparent data available than ever before, which will allow you to make a judgement about what’s work- ing so that everyone across the system can implement some of the changes that have brought benefits.” The statement has raised con-

cern in one headteachers’ union, which has urged Mr Gove to con- sult the profession when deciding what data to collect, and what data to publish.

Academies: SEN and fears of a two-tier system

SEN and the danger of creating a two-tier education system also dominated the six-hour Academies Bill debate in the House of Lords on Monday (June 7). Under the Bill every state

school in England will have the right to apply to become an acad- emy school; state-funded, but out- side local authority control, with “outstanding” schools being able to fast-track themselves onto the programme by September. A large part of the Lords’ debate

over the Bill surrounded the issue of SEN provision in academies. Baron Colin Low, who was born

blind and is chairman of the Royal National Institute of Blind People, said the Bill needed to be “disabil- ity-proofed” in order to ensure SEN pupils were catered for. He said there were signs that

the government believed that cater- ing for disabled and SEN students should be among the new acad- emies’ priorities, but claimed that “as presently drafted, the Bill does not go far enough or into sufficient detail as to how academies are sup- posed to do this”. Claiming there was a lack of

clarity about whether academies would be expected to follow the SEN Code of Practice, and calling for substantial amendment to the Bill, he continued: “I shall seek to ensure that the SEN framework

Malcolm Trobe, policy direc-

tor at the Association of School and College Leaders, told us that although it was wholly appropriate for information about schools to be made public, it was important to get the balance right. He said: “Data can become con-

fusing if there is too much informa- tion about teachers and schools, but also being over-simplistic can be misleading. A the moment there is a lot of data out there – around 30 different measures on schools – and for the public, that is too many to look at. It is important that Mr Gove consults schools and colleges as well as parents on what data is important.”

Mr Trobe also cautioned the new

secretary of state about introducing “headline statistics”, such as the target of every school having 30 per cent of its students achieving five A* to C grades at GCSE including English and maths. He said: “Placing such impor-

tance on achieving this had a negative impact on schools’ organisational behaviour. They concentrated far too much atten- tion on students who were on the C/D grade boundary.” Kevin Courtney, deputy general

secretary of the National Union of Teachers, told SecEd there was a “clear risk of information over- load”.

The Academies Bill: The education world reacts

Ray Tarleton, principal, South Dartmoor Community College, Devon: “Of course schools will register their interest and take a look at what’s on offer because it’s a new national initiative. I think it would have been more honest of the government to come clean and admit that these new academies don’t meet the original criteria of being in socially deprived areas where the brokering of external sponsorships and partnerships was designed to help drive up standards. What is an academy now? The truth is that it’s a re-branding of the grant-maintained school and the arguments being used to oppose them are similar to those used by opponents of opting out in the past.”

Headteacher, East Midlands (anonymous): “In my local authority, I think two state secondaries out of eight becoming academies will destroy the viability of the local authority and it will not be able to afford to run (the other schools). Same with primaries. Out of 40-ish, the right six becoming academies could make services non-existent for others.”

Simone Aspis, campaigns and policy co-ordinator for the Alliance for Inclusive Education: “We are deeply concerned that many mainstream schools will be exempted from SEN legislation. Many mainstream schools will no longer be required to comply with SEN legislation underpinning inclusive education policy. With government policy of removing the bias towards inclusive education we are deeply concerned about what will be agreed on compliance with SEN legislation and inclusive schooling guidance between the secretary of state for education and individual academies.”

applies to academies as it does to maintained schools.” Others expressing concern

about how SEN students would be catered for included Baroness Elizabeth Massey, a former teacher, who pointed out that exclusions of students with special needs are dis- proportionately higher in academies than in other state schools, and Baroness Susan Elizabeth Garden, who sought assurances that all academies would be required to have SEN-trained staff. Lord Jonathan Hill, junior edu-

cation minister, confirmed that academies would be expected to

“have regard for the SEN Code of Practice”, adding that local authori- ties would retain responsibility for ensuring that the needs of SEN students are met. “Academies will have to ensure

fair access and deliver provision,” he added, and invited a committee of interested peers to brief him on the subject. Another theme running through

the discussions was the local impact that new schools will have, with many concerned that a “two-tier” system could develop, with acad- emies sapping resources away from existing establishments.

James Murphy O’Connor, headteacher, Prior Park College, Somerset: “With the economy still very much in recovery, the education secretary’s announcement about this new initiative raises a few concerns. What seems like a good idea on the surface has many uncertainties. First, it’s unclear where the budget is coming from to support it and second, with so little evidence of this scheme being a success, the government is rather going out on a limb.”

Baroness Delyth Morgan, former

junior education minister, said: “Funding for schools is allocated to local authorities on a formula, tak- ing into account local costs, needs and deprivation. Some funding is retained by the local authority to pay for services centrally provided by it to those schools and their pupils. “This includes such things as school travel, school meals, special

‘Academic’ Diplomas are culled as state schools get the green light for iGCSEs

Restrictions preventing state schools from offering International GCSEs (iGCSEs) have been lifted by ministers, opening the door for thousands of schools to start offering the qualifications. From September, maintained

schools will be free to teach iGCSEs in English, mathematics, science and ICT, in a move that the government claims will put them “on a level playing field with independent schools”. The changes mean that iGCSE

results will now count towards league tables, something that had previously restricted schools from offering the qualifications. Schools offering the iGCSEs

will also now be eligible for fund- ing, and the government claims that a number of high performing state schools have already expressed an interest in offering them. Nick Gibb, the schools min-

ister, said the exams system had been subjected to years of political control, and claimed the decision granted schools greater freedom to offer “the qualifications employ- ers and universities demand, and that properly prepare pupils for life, work and further study”. He added: “By removing the

red tape, state school pupils will have the opportunity to leave school with the same set of qualifications as their peers from the top private

schools – allowing them to better compete for university places and for the best jobs.” Exam boards, including Edexel

and University of Cambridge International Examinations, wel- comed the move. A spokeswoman for Edexel said: “It is vital that any education system offers flex- ibility and choice to ensure learners achieve their full potential. Teachers will now have more freedom to choose an exam format that best suits their learners’ needs.” Elsewhere, Mr Gibb also

announced that development of the new Diplomas in science, humani- ties and languages – due to be intro- duced from September 2011 – will

cease immediately. Abolishing the so-called “academic Diplomas” was a long-standing pledge of the Conservatives, and Mr Gibb says the move will save £1.8 million. He added: “It’s not for gov-

ernment to decide which quali- fications pupils should take, or to force the development of new qualifications, which is why we are stopping development of the state-led ‘academic Diplomas’ in humanities, sciences and lan- guages. Instead, we will devote our efforts to making sure our existing qualifications are rigor- ous, challenging and properly prepare our young people for life, work and study.”

needs, statementing, pupil referral units for children excluded from school, school library services, jointly provided sports, music facil- ities or teaching, as well as advisory support for teachers and schools. “These are very important serv-

ices,” she added. Experts have expressed fears

that as money is diverted away from local authorities to individual schools, resources provided for

schools still under local authority control could be hit. Closing the proceedings, Lord

Hill said he wanted to see “the best performing schools do even better, supporting others to do the same”. “We believe that academies are

an excellent mechanism for achiev- ing those aims, placing as they do school improvement at the forefront of their focus, and working in a flex- ible way to achieve that,” he said.

Half-term sees axe fall

SecEd Online was among the first to break the news during half- term of yet more education cuts by the new administration as both the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA) and the General Teaching Council for England (GTCE) were axed. During the break, education

minister Michael Gove published two statements signalling his inten- tion to seek Parliament’s approval in the autumn to close down both organisations. In his statement on the GTCE, Mr

Gove said: “I believe this organisa- tion does little to raise teaching stand- ards or professionalism.” Mr Gove added that he wanted there to be “stronger and clearer arrangements” in relation to teacher misconduct. However, the GTCE hit back,

saying it is seeking “legal advice” on the implications of the announce-


ment. A statement added: “The GTCE was created by Parliament to work in the public interest to improve standards of professional conduct among teachers, to contrib- ute to raising standards of teaching and learning, and to raise the stand- ing of the teaching profession.” Christine Blower, general sec-

retary of the National Union of Teachers, warned that schools should not be left to carry out teach- er disciplinaries. “A robust, clear, fair and transparent procedure is needed,” she said. The GTCE announcement

came days after Mr Gove wrote to Christopher Trinick, QCDA chair, instructing the agency to produce a schedule for the “winding down of functions”. Full reports on the closures can

be found at by searching for QCDA and GTCE.

SecEd • June 10 2010

More data: Education minister Michael Gove

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16
Produced with Yudu -