Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

MPs seek ASCL guidance

ASCL gave evidence in March to a committee of MPs looking into school accountability. The parliamentary Children, Schools and Families Committee sought ASCL's views on the inspection system, school improvement partners, self-evaluation and the proposed report card. The GTCE, NAHT, ATL and NUT also gave evidence.

General Secretary, John Dunford told the committee: "In 2004 we had from the minister for school standards a properly thought out new relationship with schools, which had self-evaluation at the centre, driven by the same sort of data that would drive the work of a school improvement partner (SIP).

"The SIPs' role of supporting and challenging heads is fit for purpose but the problem is that accountability has become far too top down, because heads are told what to do and given too many targets.

"School self-evaluation, a school improvement partner and Ofsted represent a strong three-legged stool of school accountability.

"Between the Ofsted visits, it is the job of the school improvement partner to monitor the progress of self-evaluation in supporting and challenging the head. That is mostly working well, and the huge strides forward that schools have made in the past five years on self evaluation...have been an important driver for school improvement.

On the government's proposals for a school report card, John said, "We are not keen on the whole of school performance coming down to a single grade. However, in principle, a school support card could represent more intelligent accountability.

"The devil really is in the detail. How do you measure improvement and progress? What wider achievements of the school will be brought in?

"We must have a discussion about what those elements will be, how they will be combined and how they will be graded.

"In principle, replacing league tables with a more sophisticated report card that has been well thought through - with the input of the profession, parents and other stakeholders - could be useful."

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