227. Having considered the major elements of
the accountability system, a number of inter-related messages
have emerged. First, complexity: the school accountability and
improvement system has become extremely complex, with layer upon
layer of new initiatives being imposed on schools. Second, consistency:
linked to the complexity issue is the impression that some major
elements of the accountability system are giving conflicting messages.
This leads schools, parents and others to worry about the consistency
of the various mechanisms which are supposed to hold schools to
account and support them towards better performance. Third, coercion:
the Government and Ofsted are giving mixed messages about whether
schools themselves are driving school improvement or whether they
must simply submit to improvement programmes imposed on them by
others. We examine these issues in further detail below.
228. The New Relationship with Schools was intended
to simplify and make more coherent the school accountability and
The Government acknowledged that schools complained of a 'bidding
culture', in which there were too many programmes and initiatives
which distracted them from the task of school improvement. The
'single conversation' with schools was, therefore, meant to remove
from schools the need to take account of multiple initiatives
from a variety of different sources and have a single conversation
with a School Improvement Partner (SIP) about development priorities,
targets and support needs.
229. However, witnesses have complained that
the vision of the 'single conversation' is not a reality for schools.
The Association of Schools and College Leaders stated that "the
single conversation has suffered from the top-down target setting
culture of the DCSF and its agency the National Strategies".
Local authorities, School Improvement Partners and headteachers
have said that one of the biggest problems facing schools is the
number and frequency of new initiatives emanating from central
government. They have also expressed concerns about a lack of
understanding by the Government of how new programmes would work
in practice and the possibility of adverse, unintended consequences.
VT Education and Skills
pointed to a need for simplification, agreeing with others that
there were too many initiatives and adding that information for
parents was either too widely spread or not presented in a comprehensible
230. Councillor Les Lawrence, representing the
Local Government Authority (LGA), gave as a reason for the frequency
of policy initiatives the Government's "unfortunate misunderstanding"
of the length of time between a policy being set by Government,
implemented in a school or across a local authority and the manifestation
of an outcome from that policy. He thought that Government had
a tendency to rush and, in doing so, did not allow sufficient
time for policies to run their course from inception, through
implementation to outcomes. He thought that, over the last 20
or 30 years, governments had tended to pursue goals which were
not always compatible with the requirements of sound policy delivery.
Councillor Lawrence emphasised the need for a period of stability
so that schools and local authorities could focus on improvement,
free from the pressure of constant change:
we have had this constant change, dare I say
it, ever since the Baker curriculum reforms.
of stability would be very helpful to enable us to bring about
the type of improvements that we are beginning to achieve now,
simply because we have the data to hand and the powers to intervene.
231. Anastasia de Waal, Director of Family and
Education at Civitas, a thinktank, found the frequent succession
of new ideas frustrating. The net result was that educationalists
were never in a position to consolidate and use the knowledge
gained from experience because a policy was dropped or changed
before its true effects could be discerned. New policies simply
brought new problems, not solutions to the problems which already
Peter Tymms has also stated that, with so many national initiatives
being rolled out simultaneously, it is impossible to establish
which ones are leading to better accountability and school improvement
and which ones are not.
Professor Tymms said that he would like to see the Government
testing policies systematically in order to generate solid evidence
about the effectiveness of policies. He argued that the Government
should formulate policy with the explicit aim that it would be
updated in the light of the evidence which emerges.
232. Jon Coles, Director General of the Schools
Directorate at DCSF, told us that, through the policy-making process,
the Government was trying to understand the factors that affect
children's educational success and to identify policies that would
be effective in bringing about that success. He said that the
White Paper proposals were an attempt "to reduce the pressure
of centrally driven reform programmes" and to move towards
a system more tailored to the needs of individual schools.
He did not, however, explain why the pace of change in Government
policy needed to be so relentless and so centrally directed.
233. As the strategic commissioning authority
for schools in the maintained sector, local authorities are at
the heart of the school accountability and improvement system
and are, therefore, acutely aware of the complexities of that
system. An excellent example of this complexity is provided by
the arrangements for supporting school improvement at the 16-19
phase of education. For all education providers, the LGA states
that the "key agency for driving improvement is the institution
or provider itself, supported as appropriate by other providers
working in local delivery consortia".
Support and challenge is provided by the sponsoring agency and,
where this is ineffective, the sponsoring agency has duties to
secure improvement. The sponsoring agency for schools and sixth
form colleges is the local authority; but for academies it will
soon be the Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA); and, for general
further education colleges, the Skills Funding Agency, with the
local authority and YPLA identifying underperformance and commissioning
the Learning and Skills Improvement Service as necessary. This
is clearly a very complex network of agencies operating at the
16-19 level of education.
Councillor Les Lawrence said that the LGA had some concerns about
this "plethora of bodies" and worried that it was a
"mechanism for exercising greater centralised control than
is necessary to exercise the new powers for the commissioning
of 16-19 provision".
234. Furthermore, there are a variety of existing
and proposed measures for performance management, including the
school report card pilot study to record schools' performance
in relation to children up to age 16, Achievement and Attainment
Tables, the Data Dashboard for school sixth forms, Framework for
Excellence for the further education sector, the new Ofsted inspection
framework, Comprehensive Area Assessments, and self-regulation.
The LGA stated that "unless these are brought together into
a single integrated system there is likely to be both public and
professional confusion and inefficient use of resources".
235. Once local authorities have strategic commissioning
responsibility for all education and training for children and
young people up to the age of 18, there may be a stronger argument
for placing greater emphasis on performance across 14-19 provision
within a more coherent and integrated framework. The LGA, in its
response to the Department's consultation on 21st Century
Schools and A School Report Card, questioned why the focus was
exclusively on schools and not on other types of provider who
are engaged in the education and training of young people up to
the age of 19. The LGA noted that the Education and Skills Act
2008 and the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill
(which has since passed into law) both require collaboration between
local authorities and providers of all types of education and
training up to 19 and considered that a harmonised accountability
framework would promote such collaboration.
236. Instead, there remains some confusion about
the status of partnership working and how account should be taken
of the work schools do with other partners. The Government has
strongly emphasised schools working in partnership with others,
both in the White Paper and in the proposals for the school report
also makes a judgement on partnership working under the new inspection
framework and states that it is working with the Department "To
refine ways of evaluating partnerships more securely within the
Common principles are being developed
which will enable inspectors to evaluate the impact of collaborative
working in schools, early years' settings and colleges".
The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), however,
argued that "The accountability system is predicated on,
and encourages, competition between schools at a destructive level,
since it is wholly predicated on the performance of the individual
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers saw more benefit in
a community-based approach to accountability, with increased focus
on partnerships and collaborations between schools, other education
providers (early years and 14-19) and other children's services.
237. Another manifestation of the complexities
raised by the evaluation of partnership working has been in connection
with the Diploma. The Diploma has the potential to transform the
way schools operate at the 14-19 level. Not only is it meant to
combine the academic with the vocational, but schools are generally
required to collaborate with each other and with other education
providers in order to provide Diplomas. This means that the achievements
of pupils in a school at Diploma level may be due, not only to
the efforts of that school, but also to the efforts of other education
238. Edexcel, one of the Awarding Bodies providing
the Diploma, states that open competition between schools has
been encouraged over many years, impeding trust and collaboration
at local level. It considers that "Collaboration in provision
is yet to be translated into collaboration over outcomes, not
least because colleges are central to such partnerships for learners
aged 16 and under, but are not included in the current proposals."
Edexcel does not consider that the Department has yet produced
a workable model for accountability demonstrating collaboration
between various providers.
239. The complexity of the school
accountability and improvement system in England is creating a
barrier to genuine school improvement based on the needs of individual
schools and their pupils. We support the message in the 21st Century
Schools White Paper, that schools should be empowered to take
charge of their own improvement processes. However, the Government's
continuing tendency to impose serial policy initiatives on schools
belies this message and the relentless pace of reform has taken
its toll on schools and their capacity to deliver a balanced education
to their pupils. We urge the Government to refrain from introducing
frequent reforms and allow schools a period of consolidation.
240. The Government stands by the current accountability
system as a coherent and effective approach to holding schools
to account and driving improvement. The Department stated that
"the current school accountability system plays an effective
role in raising standards, enabling schools to drive their own
improvement, identifying excellent performance and underperformance,
keeping parents informed and ensuring resources are directed to
where they are most needed."
However, the NUT believed that the current accountability system
was muddled and that, contrary to the Government's claim, there
was no evidence that tests, targets and performance tables had
improved standards over the past decade.
Moreover, teacher initiative and creativity was undermined by
uncertainties created by multiple and often conflicting lines
The NUT stated that:
"The Government in England has failed consistently
to adopt a coherent approach to school accountability. Current
systems for evaluation, from individual pupils to the education
service at national level, are extraordinarily muddled. There
is no clear rationale of why various systems of summative evaluation
and accountability exist. Consequently, schools experience over-lapping
forms of high stakes evaluation systems
which are often
in contradiction with each other. These over-lapping systems of
accountability are made worse by Government national targets for
test results and examination results and by the publication on
an annual basis of school performance tables."
241. The ASCL made a similar point, claiming
that the present system had evolved haphazardly over generations,
placed progressively less trust in schools and teachers, and was
no longer fit for purpose.
The ASCL stated that reducing levels of trust in schools and
teachers has led to an expanding accountability system which has
become over-burdensome because schools are held accountable in
too many ways to too many different individuals and bodies. These
include children and parents as individuals, those groups collectively,
the governing body, the local authority, members and officers
of the local authority, school improvement partners (SIPs), advisers
appointed by National Strategies or the National Challenge, Ofsted,
the Children's Commissioner, Children's Trusts, the Learning and
Skills Council, the press, and partnerships set up to address
behaviour, diplomas or other locally agreed issues. The ASCL stated
that these accountabilities often conflict, looking for different
priorities and demanding incompatible behaviours. For example,
different plans and different targets have to be agreed with different
bodies. The ASCL
would like to see a new system designed with a limited number
of elements which are not burdensome and which accurately reflect
the performance of schools.
242. Edexcel described the current accountability
system as "fragmented" and, like the ASCL, referred
to the multiple bodies to which schools were accountable. According
to Edexcel, inconsistency was a feature of the system at a number
of levels. It argued that Ofsted reports used CVA data inconsistently
so that account was not necessarily taken of school context. It
added that light-touch inspection for high-performing schools
could reinforce funding advantage and encourage 'coasting'; yet
close scrutiny of low-achieving schools could reinforce funding
disadvantage, undermine professional confidence and lead to problems
with recruitment and retention of skilled and experienced teachers.
Furthermore, Edexcel argued that league tables based on raw test
and examination scores also failed to account for a school's context,
particularly in terms of a challenging intake. It said that such
measures tended to increase the demand for places at schools perceived
as 'high-performing' and reduce demand for places at 'low-performing'
schools, with damaging consequences for the local community.
According to this view, there is an inconsistent approach to
accountability and outcomes for schools, depending on a judgement
of their performance based on raw test and examination scores.
243. An often-quoted example of inconsistency
in the school accountability system stems from the National Challenge,
administered through the Government's National Strategies agency.
The Government set a target for secondary schools of 30% of pupils
achieving 5 A*-C grades at GCSE, including English and maths.
The target for primary schools is 65% of pupils achieving level
4 or above in Key Stage 2 English and maths.
The Government launched the National Challenge in June 2008 to
provide increased resources and assistance to schools failing
to meet the threshold targets. Various interventions are possible,
including school closure; replacing the school with an academy;
teaming the school with a high-performing school as part of a
federation; encouraging the school to acquire a trust in order
to secure external involvement in its governance; or replacing
the governing body with an interim executive board.
244. Although the additional resources for school
improvement associated with National Challenge were welcomed,
there was concern about a number of aspects of the programme.
The emphasis on examination results did not take account of the
wider activities and context of the school, including the characteristics
of the intake. National Challenge schools expressed anxiety that
they would be perceived as failing, leading to a spiral of decline
as some parents moved their children to other schools. It was
argued that the list of National Challenge schools was misleading
as some had received favourable Ofsted judgements and, indeed,
some were mentoring other schools to help them improve. Witnesses
including Edexcel and the Independent Schools Inspectorate noted
the apparent conflict between some National Challenge outcomes
and Ofsted judgements and Edexcel considered that this raised
questions as to whether there existed, in fact, a coherent accountability
Challenge also seemed incongruous next to CVA scoring as some
National Challenge schools actually scored very highly in CVA
245. We put the problem of inconsistency between
Ofsted judgements and schools judged as failing under the National
Challenge programme to HM Chief Inspector. She responded that
the Government was considering only raw examination results under
National Challenge, whereas inspection judgements were based on
a much wider range of performance measures. The Chief Inspector
said that, when she reviewed the reports of schools judged outstanding
or good by Ofsted which had failed to meet the National Challenge
threshold target, she found that inspectors had felt sure that
those schools were improving and their capacity to improve was
246. In other areas, the Department appeared
to agree that a range of performance measures was preferable to
an undue focus on raw scores and this principle underpinned proposals
for the new school report card. Nevertheless, as we have already
noted, even the school report card will continue to place great
reliance on test and examination results. Moreover, the potential
for the overall score on the school report card to appear to conflict
with Ofsted's judgement of the school's performance has been admitted
by both the Government and Ofsted. A further problem will arise
if Ofsted decides that the school report card is not suitable
as a replacement for the interim assessment for schools who are
judged 'good' or 'outstanding' under the new inspection framework.
Not only will this be an additional burden on schools, but it
would also introduce another area in which the potential for inconsistency,
this time between the interim assessment and the school report
card, is clear.
247. There is a broader debate on accountability
which considers whether accountability should be to the centre
or to local communities. This is connected with the evidence from
the NFER study on local authority use of statutory powers which
highlighted differences in approach to accountability and improvement
between central and local government, with the former putting
increasing emphasis on the use of statutory powers to change radically
the structure of a school judged to be failing, and the latter
often relying on non-statutory, collaborative means of supporting
schools and promoting improvement. The LGA confirmed that the
collaborative approach to school improvement was a deliberate
strategy on the part of local authorities.
248. The Association of Teachers and Lecturers
(ATL) considered that "the current system gives undue weight
to central government, particularly through national test data
and Ofsted inspection", leading to the undesirable consequences
of narrowing the curriculum and stifling innovation and creativity.
The ATL and the GTCE argued in favour of a rebalancing of accountability
in favour of parents, governing bodies and the local community.
The proposals for a school report card and continuation of individual
accountability, the ATL said, would perpetuate an insular approach
by schools as each does what it can to climb the league tables.
The ATL saw more benefit in a community-based approach to accountability,
with increased focus on partnerships and collaborations between
schools, other education providers (early years and 14-19) and
other children's services. This evidence underscores a generalised
view of an inconsistent approach between levels of government,
with central government perceived as coercive and local government
as collaborative (as we explore in greater detail in the next
249. Inconsistencies in the
approach to school accountability and improvement and inconsistencies
in the judgments which are made in different parts of the accountability
system are both confusing and damaging. Confusion undermines the
credibility of the accountability system and schools which find
themselves pulled in different directions are unlikely to be able
to give their full attention to the fundamental task of providing
their pupils with a broad and balanced education.
250. The language of self-evaluation and schools
taking charge of their own improvement processes permeates the
Ofsted inspection framework and many recent publications by the
Government, including the White Paper. Yet the reality is that
schools in need of improvement are still subject to programmes
devised and applied by central government through its agencies.
251. Once again, National Challenge is a good
example of how schools, who may be performing at a high level
according to Ofsted, find themselves constrained by the structure
of a national programme imposed by the Government. The ASCL and
others pointed to the use of statistical indicators and targets
throughout the system as a major reason for schools bending to
perverse incentives rather than necessarily doing what was best
for their pupils.
It argued that "There may be a place for such approaches,
but there is at present little room for anything else."
The ASCL gave the example of the National Challenge target of
30% of pupils gaining five or more GCSEs, including English and
maths, at grades A*-C. This led to schools focusing their attention
on pupils who were close to the threshold, to the detriment of
those performing either well above or well below the threshold.
 This is
not necessarily how a school would choose to operate in the absence
of a programme such as National Challenge.
252. Recent research by the National Foundation
for Educational Research (NFER) detected tension between local
and central government when the National Challenge programme was
introduced. Local authorities did not necessarily oppose the programme
as suchindeed, many welcomed the additional resources being
made available for school improvementbut many were dismayed
at what they saw as a political gesture with harmful consequences
for schools. The overwhelming perception of those taking part
in the NFER research was that the "naming and shaming"
approach to school improvement, based on raw test scores, was
unfair, demoralising for staff and potentially damaging to the
school and its pupils. The approach taken by central government
appeared unilateral in nature and was not approved of at local
253. We have also noted above our concern about
the Government's proposal to enable the Secretary of State to
direct local authorities to use their statutory powers in relation
to schools which are struggling.
This would give the Secretary of State power to intervene in
schools causing concern and to circumvent some of the good practice
developed by local authorities which are successfully using non-statutory
strategies to support school improvement. It is also further evidence
of the Government's centralising tendencies when it comes to school
improvement and it runs directly contrary to the message in the
White Paper that schools are responsible for their own improvement.
254. Throughout this series of inquiries, we
have encountered concern about the effect of targets and thresholds
on schools and their pupils. In schools which are struggling to
meet targets based on tests in the core subjects, many will feel
powerless to put appropriate time and resources into meeting the
genuine needs of pupils whose greatest potential lies elsewhere
than in academic attainment. The LGA provides a further example
of how targets and thresholds can have a distorting effect on
school practice. In its response to Ofsted's consultation about
the proposal to impose minimum standards for pupils' attainment,
the LGA expressed concern that such requirements could have serious
implications for schools and their pupils. It stated that:
Defining minimum standards for learners' outcomes
may be attractive, but also raises highly complex questions of
realism, reasonableness and equity.
There are quite profound
philosophical problems about the extent to which people, who are
all different, can all reasonably be expected at all times and
in all circumstances to achieve a particular standard. Equally,
clearly everyone wishes to be ambitious in seeing each child achieve
his or her educational potential, but these are not by any means
necessarily the same thing. We must be careful that in any setting
of minimum standards, of whatever variety, we do not create perverse
incentives which adversely impact on institutions or on individual
children and young people.
255. Ofsted categorisation of schools as 'causing
concern' has also been described as damaging to schools. The National
Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) argued that the current mechanisms
for identifying 'under-performing' schools, based on targets and
thresholds of attainment in tests and examinations, were inadequate
in recognising the broader achievements of a school. The process
of categorisation used by Ofsted did nothing to support school
improvement and may hinder progress by reducing the reputation
of a school. The NAHT wished to see the additional support which
is offered to schools as a result of being placed in a category
of concern by Ofsted being made available without the stigma which
attaches to that categorisation.
256. School self-evaluation was meant to epitomise
the New Relationship with Schools concept of schools taking responsibility
for their own improvement.
Yet the ASCL told us that self-evaluation has been undermined
by the current accountability system:
the self evaluation form has been imposed
on schools and has been increasing[ly] subverted to provide extra
accountability. Self-improvement has been obstructed by a fixation
on categorising schools as failing in various ways, leading to
a culture of fear which stifles creativity and leads instead to
Too little account is taken of progress, improvement
or performance over time; so that teachers and their leaders can
find that they are only as good as their most recent results.
This has led to an increasing number of school leaders being dismissed,
often in ways more redolent of the football club than the classroom,
contributing to the sense of threat and compliance culture mentioned
The NUT was also concerned about what it saw as a
distortion of the self-evaluation process by Ofsted. It thought
that, whilst appearing to adopt self-evaluation, Ofsted was actually
using it in a negative and punitive way. The NUT argued that the
approach embodied in Ofsted's Self-Evaluation Form (SEF) was far
removed from the model propounded by Professor John MacBeath which
had met with the enthusiasm of many teachers and local authorities.
The NUT compared the SEF approach unfavourably with 'true' self-evaluation
by which a school "takes time to think through its own priorities
and values and
tests the fulfilment of these in practice"
becoming, as a consequence, a better school.
257. Consistent with a coercive view of the accountability
system, many witnesses have stated that performance reporting
and inspection in England are used as punitive mechanisms.
The stigmatisation of individual schools, leading to a spiral
of decline as morale is compromised, recruitment and retention
of good teachers becomes increasingly problematic and parents
move children to other schools, could be avoided with a less punitive
approach based on support and challenge.
School Improvement Partners told us that the top-down pressures
on headteachers by means of cumulating initiatives, including
threshold targets, were discouraging teachers from applying for
headships. Existing headteachers felt unable to do their job as
they wished because they were increasingly occupied with the "volume
of initiatives that fall on their desk". Some headteachers
felt distanced from the business of teaching and learning because
of the breadth of their management responsibilities, particularly
in relation to the extended schools agenda.
Anna Fazackerley, representing The Policy Exchange, thought that
the Government should move towards a model more like that in Ontario
or Alberta in Canada, where the punitive approach was avoided
and more emphasis was placed on supporting school improvement
and maintaining a dialogue with schools about the best means of
achieving that end.
258. Dr John Dunford, General Secretary of the
ASCL, summed up the way schools and their leaders feel about the
accountability and improvement mechanisms to which they are subject.
He accepted that schools should be accountable and that accountability
should feed into the processes of school improvement. However,
an effective school accountability system was one where schools
owned the processes of accountability and improvement. Schools
had difficulty with the current system because they did not have
ownership of it and it was being "done to them". This
chimes with a concern expressed by Professor John MacBeath, who
stated that, at a European level, the UK was peculiar because
of the lack of reciprocity between schools, the Government and
local authorities. The pressures on schools were very much top
down, but there was no mechanism by which schools could evaluate
the work done by, for example, Ofsted or the Government. He thought
that the "pressure-down, accountability-up" structure
of the school accountability and improvement system was wrong
and needed to be addressed.
259. The NUT urged the Government to review current
accountability measuresinspection, national targets and
school performance tableswith the aim of achieving public
accountability of schools without the "warping and distorting
effects" of the current system.
It states that performance tables and targets should be abolished
and that the need for an account of the performance of the education
system at national level should be met by sample testing.
The ATL agreed and added that reporting of school-level data,
encouraging "crude parent choice" and triggering major
interventions such as National Challenge, were the major reasons
for narrowing of the curriculum taught in schools. Only those
schools already doing well felt secure enough to innovate and
260. We recommend that the Government
revisits the proposals for reform of the school accountability
and improvement system set out in the 21st Century Schools White
Paper with a view to giving more substance to its claims that
schools are responsible for their own improvement. We have received
strong evidence that schools feel coerced and constrained by the
outcomes of Ofsted inspection and programmes set up by central
government, such as National Challenge. We have consistently noted
the adverse effects that targets have had on the education of
children and young people. The Government should seek means of
delivering support and challenge to schools without what many
witnesses perceived as a harmful 'naming and shaming' approach
endemic in the current system.
261. The Government told us that:
The principles of school self-evaluation, light-touch
Ofsted inspection and the School Improvement Partner, established
through the New Relationship with Schools, have been widely welcomed
and have supported schools in taking ownership of their own improvement.
The accountability system is flexible in allowing central Government
to shift priorities and respond both to individual school needs
and to emerging national policy, for example through the introduction
of progression targets and deprivation targets. The current accountability
framework does not only take account of hard data, but also of
valuable qualitative information through self-evaluation and Ofsted
262. The problem with the Government's
assessment of the accountability system is that it implies that
schools welcome the opportunity to take "ownership of their
own improvement" but then provides the perfect example of
how they have been prevented from doing just that. The "flexibility"
of the system, allowing a constant shift in priorities by central
government, is precisely the reason why schools are struggling
to engage with the accountability regime and myriad school improvement
mechanisms. The Government refers to the flexibility of the accountability
system as if this is an inherent benefit. The opposite is true.
Schools and, indeed, local authorities are in sore need of a period
of stability so that they can regroup, take the necessary time
to identify where their priorities lie and then work, with appropriate
support, to secure the necessary improvements.
263. Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools
told us that "I have
said [in my Annual Report] for
two years that the number of children going from primary to secondary
school who can't read is far too high, and that we are letting
down generations of children".
This is a damning judgement of a system of education in England
which is failing some pupils at a fundamental level.
264. Our series of three inquiries, of which
this is the last, has sought to uncover the reasons why some children
are not receiving a rounded education which is appropriate to
their needs. In our report on Testing and Assessment, we found
that the testing and assessment system and targets culture disseminated
from central government had the effect of distorting the education
of many children. There was too much emphasis on high-stakes testing
in the core subjects and too little on the needs of individual
children. Our National Curriculum inquiry found that teachers
were constrained by an over-specified curriculum which takes up
almost all of the school week, leaving little room for innovation
and an individualised approach. This, final, report in the series
has identified deep flaws in an accountability system which is
intended to provide the gateway to school improvement but whose
complexity and inconsistency provides a real barrier to that improvement.
Schools cannot be coerced into improving: it is a process which
they must own for themselves if it is to be successful.
265. It is time for the Government
to allow schools to refocus their efforts on what matters: children.
For too long, schools have struggled to cope with changing priorities,
constant waves of new initiatives from central government, and
the stresses and distortions caused by performance tables and
266. The Government should place
more faith in the professionalism of teachers and should support
them with a simplified accountability and improvement system which
challenges and encourages good practice rather than stigmatising
and undermining those who are struggling. In doing so, it is vital
for effective accountability that the independence of HM Inspectorate
be safeguarded and maintained at all times. We believe that the
Government should revisit the plans set out in its 21st Century
Schools White Paper and simplify considerably the accountability
framework and improvement strategies it proposes.
359 New Relationship with Schools, p3 Back
New Relationship with Schools, p8 Back
Ev 10 Back
Research commissioned by LGA from National Foundation for Education
Research on the local authority role in school improvement Back
A provider of school support and improvement services Back
Ev 186 Back
Q 78 Back
Q 87 Back
Q 204 Back
Professor Peter Tymms, Durham University Back
Ev 170 Back
Q 476 Back
Ev 43 Back
The Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee remarked
on the complexity of the new decision-making structure in its
Seventh Report of Session 2008-09, HC 530, para 152 Back
Q 83 Back
Ev 43 Back
Your child, your schools, our future, DCSF, Cm 7588, Chapter
3; A School Report Card: Prospectus, DCSF and Ofsted, June
2009, p 45 Back
Ev 115 Back
Ev 10 Back
Ev 12-14 Back
Ev 63 Back
Ev 145 Back
Ev 14 Back
Ev 15 Back
Ev 14 Back
Ev 15 Back
Ev 9 Back
Ev 15 Back
Ev 63 Back
DCSF performance data quoted in Library Research Paper 09/15,
Ev 189; Ev 63 Back
CVA, or Contextual Value Added, is a performance score adjusted
to take account of a school's context; "Outstanding but challenged",
Times Educational Supplement (TES), 31 October 2008, p6;
"National Challenge or national disgrace", Managing
Schools Today, September/October 2008, pp14 and 15; "Threatened
schools to mentor academies", TES, 3 October 2008,
p3; "real challenge will be to avoid past mistakes",
and "Tough targets alone will not be enough", TES,
4 July 2008, p14; "When success means failure",
Managing Schools Today, June/July 2008, pp 8and 9; "'Failing'
tag slashes intakes", TES, 25 July 2008, p1; Threatened
schools are doing well", TES, 20 June 2008, p1: "Congratulations!
But we may now close you", TES, 20 June 2008, p10;
"Unfairness of being tagged a failure", 13 June 2008,
TES, 13 June p7; "Failing schools threatened with being
taken over", Financial Times, 9 June 2008, p2 Back
Q 296 Back
Q 91 Back
Ev 1; Ev 12 Back
Ev 10-11 Back
Ev 10-11 Back
Ev 150 Back
Your child, your schools, our future, DCSF, Cm 7588, paras
4.1 & 4.8 Back
Ev 8 Back
DfES and Ofsted (2004) A New Relationship with Schools Back
Ev 10 Back
Ev 13; Ev 15; Ev 16; NUT response to the DCSF/Ofsted consultation
on the School Report Card; Q 13; Q 38; Q 196; Q 261 Back
Mathematics in Education and Industry; Ev 180; Ev 10; Ev 62; Ev
63; Ev 15 Back
Q 144 Back
Q 196 Back
Q 190 Back
Ev 15 Back
Ev 17; see also Ev 11 Back
Ev 12 Back
Ev 147 Back
Q 284 Back