Heads reject 'simple' school report cards

16 Mar 2009

 It is now quite clear that leaders of secondary schools and colleges are very wary about the government's proposal to introduce report cards designed to improve school accountability.

At the weekend, I chaired a debate at the annual conference of the Association of School and College Leaders, with some 500+ school leaders present. I asked for a show of hands in support of a report card that included a single, overall grading for each school, as happens with schools in New York City. Not a single hand was raised in support.

 Yet on Friday the Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, told these same head teachers that he wants the report card to be 'simple and easy to understand', which many took as code for wanting a single overall grade. 

There was some good news for the government though. ASCL has published a set of principles which, if adopted for the report cards, would win their support for this new form of accountability. The principles include: no overall grade and the end of school league tables. 

When I asked for a further show of hands on the question 'Do you think report cards - if designed in accordance with the ASCL principles - could improve school accountability?' the great majority of hands went up. 

The government's plans are due to be published in a White Paper in early May.


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