Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

ASCL response to failing schools report

ASCL has issued a strongly worded reply rejecting the misleading and potentially damaging report published by Parliament's Public Accounts Committee in October which claimed that a quarter of secondary schools are failing.

John Dunford said: "It is entirely wrong and irresponsible for Edward Leigh, the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, to talk in sensationalist terms about children's life chances being ruined.

"The report naively assumes that because a school is in the bottom quartile, it is failing. This is an obviously incorrect assumption and an injudicious use of statistics. There will always be 25 per cent of schools in the bottom quartile, no matter how good their results, just as there will always be 25 per cent of schools in the top quartile.

"Most of these so-called failing schools serve disadvantaged communities where the school is often the only place that improves young people's life chances. School leaders devote their lives to educating and supporting such children and their families and will bitterly resent political games being played with these misinterpreted statistics.

"Worse than misleading the public, this report is damaging to the morale of school leaders, teachers and students, at a time when they are working harder than ever to raise standards."

The report followed an equally misleading statement from Sir Cyril Taylor that 500 secondary schools are failing. However, many of the schools on his list are rapidly improving, including academies.

John said: "Let us be clear about the current situation. Even though Ofsted has raised the bar for inspections, only 53 secondary schools out of 3,500 are in special measures. Of the other schools cited as 'low attaining', many have good value-added scores for very weak intakes. They are certainly not failing."

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