Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

ASCL warning on wellbeing indicators

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The government's proposals to measure schools' contribution to pupil wellbeing are likely to result in those schools in the most disadvantaged areas being unfairly punished, ASCL has argued in its response to the Ofsted consultation on wellbeing indicators, which closed on 16 January. ASCL strongly opposes the use of proxy measures to determine the quality of a school's performance in promoting wellbeing.

"The numerical indicators proposed by the DCSF are much more closely linked with social deprivation than with any actions a school could take," ASCL General Secretary John Dunford said. "It is entirely wrong to measure and compare schools on indicators that they do not have direct control over."

Responding to the proposed list of indicators, ASCL argued that:

  • attendance rates are not necessarily closely linked to the school's performance

  • persistent truancy may be an indicator of wellbeing, but the reasons behind it may have little to do with the school

  • two hours a week of PE and sport is an arbitrary measure and doesn't tell anything about wellbeing

  • participation in school lunches as an accountability measure is absurd

  • permanent exclusion rates have little to do with student wellbeing, except that a school may be acting to keep other pupils safe

  • post-16 participation is only pertinent in a voluntary market; it will be irrelevant when the compulsory age is 18

ASCL's concern is that once such figures are produced they will be seen as a reflection on the school's performance. And while the government has said it will not hold schools to account for wellbeing, experience shows that this would not be the case when it comes to Ofsted inspections.

ASCL did welcome the fact that the government and Ofsted recognise the extent of parent and pupil surveys carried out by schools, which offer a much more reliable indicator of pupil wellbeing than any numerical indicators.

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