Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Concerns regarding High Performing Specialist School status

ASCL has written to Secretary of State, Ed Balls regarding concerns about changes to the criteria for designation and re-designation of High Performing Specialist School (HPSS) status.

ASCL pointed out a number of problems, including the "bureaucratic, impersonal and insensitive" nature of the process.

ASCL is especially concerned about the proposal to remove contextual value-added (CVA) scores from the list of criteria, leaving only the Ofsted judgement and GCSE scores.

Doing so, ASCL said, would "exclude the route most likely to be helpful to excellent schools serving difficult areas."

ASCL also criticised the government for moving the goalposts in the new criteria published April 2008, by increasing the GCSE threshold from 60 to 65 per cent and introduced a minimum 30 per cent threshold to two of the criteria.

"The loss of funding for schools not re-designated causes budget instability and almost inevitably involves making staff redundant who have been employed to pursue the aims of the additional specialism that is being lost," ASCL told the minister.

"An even stronger criticism of the re-designation process, which dismays those who are successful as much as those who are unsuccessful, is that there is no recognition of the quality of work on the second specialism or outreach work. A school could be the best in the land at using the opportunities acquired through HPSS status, but it will still lose that status if it fails to meet the precise criteria."

© 2017 Association of School and College Leaders