Education Journalism Awards 2011

09 Dec 2011

 A very enjoyable night at the CIPR Education Journalism Awards at the House of Commons last night - now in their 7th year, these awards have really come of age. 

Huge congratulations to the national award winner, my old colleague at the BBC, Sean Coughlan, who writes with wonderful fluency and lightness of touch.

I was also delighted for my old friend, John O'Leary - former Education Editor of The Times and Editor of the Times Higher Education Supplement  - who received the Ted Wragg Award for lifetime contribution to education journalism. Don't worry, John, it doesn't mean you have to retire now.

Well done too to Mark Ashdown of BBC London for winning the regional/local award. Congratulations too to all the runners-up: Adi Bloom and Helen Ward of the TES, super-tweeter Sarah Pippalini of the THES, and Christine Alsford of ITV Meridian.

And, if it's not too immodest to do so, can I say how pleased I was to win the Best Online Commentary Award. Coming at the end of a rather tough year for me (dominated by my lung cancer diagnosis last April), it really meant a lot. Earlier this year, I wasn't even sure I'd still be around to see out 2011, so this was a great way to end the year. It was particularly nice for me that my elder daughter, Louise, was there to see me win the award. 

Challenge to government

The evening was also marked by an interesting and combative speech from Conservative MP Graham Stuart, chair of the Commons Education Select Committee.

 Picking up on the Daily Telegraph's scoop this week about exam board cheating, he took aim at the damaging effects of the accountability system in English education and challenged the government to do soemthing about it.

He criticised the government for placing so much emphasis on two accountability measures: the EBacc and the 'floor targets' for 5 A*-C grades at GCSE. He said these narrow measures had 'contributed to the gaming' in the school results system  that had contributed to the activities exposed by The Daily Telegraph.

As he put it, the problem with these accountability measures is that they encourage schools to focus 'not on the lowest performing students (who also tend to be the poorest) but on borderline students'. 

 He said everyone needed to recognise that performance measures 'drive behaviour in schools'.

Distorting school behaviour

The Telegraph story, he said, 'shows how the system of performance indicators will drive and distort school behaviour and lead to unintended, and indeed unwished for, results'.

He hoped the government would now come up with better accountability measures in which the outcomes for all students, of all abilities, counted. In particular, he suggested that accountability measures might instead be based on average GCSE scores across the cohort or on the mean scores for pupils in the 25th, 50th and 75th percentiles. This would incentivise schools to focus on all pupils right across the ability spectrum not just those who - by being lifted from a grade D to a grade C - will currently have a bigger impact on league table position. 

Over to you, Michael Gove!


User Comments

Alison Steel - 09 Dec 2011

lovely to see you

Hi Mike

Thanks for summarising our celebratory evening so well. It was great to see you and to meet Louise. Congratulations on your award - very well deserved and not remotely immodest of you to mention it!
Take care

Dennis O'Sullivan - 09 Dec 2011

Graham Stuart's speech

I quite like what i've seen of this speech, and he is right: we do concentrate on the C/D borderline. We now also concentrate on Maths & English sometimes at the expense of other learning.
However, I understand that we are moving to the old (failed) system of 2 year courses, no coursework and no modules, just terminal written papers. So, Triple Science students will study for 2 years (farewell to early entries) and take 3 x 3 hour exams.
This will get us back to maybe 35% exam success and , if your'e looking to get away from accountability driving learning, you aint seen nothing yet. Exam practice over and over again!

Rebecca Hanson - 09 Dec 2011

Congratulations, did the Financial Times get anything?

Congratulations on your award Mike.

Did the Financial Times get anything for their excellent investigative educational journalism this year?

Nigel de Gruchy - 09 Dec 2011

Mike Baker's award

Congratulations Mike. If I had known about these awards I would have nominated you years ago. Your written journalism as well as your broadcasts have long been of the highest order.I wish the BBC would revert to sending out their reporters to gather news and comment as you used to do rather than lazily interviewing them in the studio with obvious and repetitious questions from so called anchor men and women.
Congratulations once again on your inspiring response to your cancer.
You might also be interested to know that my book on the History of the NASUWT for which you have kindly written a commendation is at last moving again and should be published early next year.

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