Gordon Brown

02 Nov 2007

 Gordon Brown's first big speech on education as Prime Minister did not contain many surprises. It received some big headlines, mainly for the threat to close schools that failed to reach target for GCSEs, but frankly this was no great departure from previous policy. 

 However, what it does show, is that there is really no great difference between the Blair and Brown approach to education. The targets culture continues. So too does the waving of the big stick. Or should that be the 'clunking fist'.

What is disappointing is that now that we have more sophisticated measures of schools (value-added or progression measures) the government still prefers to make 'raw' results the main test of whether a school is considered viable or not.



User Comments

Becky - 05 Nov 2007

viable schools

I think the government is wise to keep raw results in view. Huge disparity in outcome may reflect an unfair school admissions policy in an area. The 'under 30%' rule would mean that more than one third of Kent secondary schools would have to close. The poor outcomes of these schools have to do with failure by the government to end the 11+ which in wholly selective Kent creates a total hierarchy of schools. It is the poor that end up in the bottom third of schools. Social and educational division is entrenched. If the government followed through on the below 30% threat they would recognise that they have to tackle unfair admissions policies first. Good.

Martin WIlloughby - 07 Nov 2007

education till 18

If the government increases the leaving age to 18 they might face a legal challenge to proposals to make parents responsible for getting them there. My knowledge of the law is sketchy, but aren't 16-18 year olds adults in the eyes of the law and therefore legally separate from their parents?

Martin - 10 Nov 2007

penalties of the 11+

Further to Becky's comment: the 30% good GCSE pass rate rule puts 2/3rds of our non-selective schools (the other side of the grammar coin) at risk of closure/radical change.

In practice only about 5 of our 69 non-grammars achieve the national average GCSE pass rate. Of course if you are below average the best you can hope for from Ofsted is Good - no matter how outstanding the provision the inspectors find when they visit the school they are not allowed to mark your school as anything above good. By the same token grammar schools have to be truly dreadful to get an Ofsted that says less than Outstanding.

You'd think an outfit like Ofsted, with all the sophisticated analytical tools available to them, could recognize the effect on overall results both of losing the top 30% and more of the intake and of cherry picking.

It is very disheartening for outstanding schools, adding far more value than most grammars, yet getting marked down in such an arbitrary fashion.

If we can't get rid of the ridiculous 11+ we could at least expect Ofsted to work to a level playing field.

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