Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

In the news

National Challenge

ASCL publicly voiced its anger and frustration at the handling of the announcement of targeting schools below 30 per cent for five C grade GCSEs.

In the Observer, where the story broke on 7 June, John Dunford said: "It is entirely wrong to describe these 638 schools as failing. Many of them are on a rising tide of achievement under their existing leadership.

"A high proportion of them work in the most challenging communities in the country and even though they have not reached 30 per cent they already add enormous value to children's achievement."

He welcomed the idea of successful schools supporting less successful ones but added: "If local authorities are to be given this responsibility many of them are going to have to radically improve their school support mechanisms in order to commission, and not provide, the right kind of support for each school."

The Times and BBC Online carried similar comments from ASCL.

Diploma criticism

John Dunford was on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme on 6 June to counter criticism by an academic that the diplomas were blurring boundaries between different qualifications. A report from Professor Alan Smithers in particular attacked the three diplomas in science, languages and humanities, saying that the idea was being lost that businesses should be allowed to create qualifications to suit them.

John responded by saying: "The timing of the criticisms is very strange. He has said the 14 new diplomas - that schools and colleges are putting a huge amount of work into developing - fill an important gap in the qualifications system, and I think that is absolutely right."

He added, "The inclusion of those three extra diplomas reduces the chance of diplomas becoming a second class qualification in the way that so many vocational qualifications have become in this country, regrettably, over the years."

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