NAHT Cymru used the union’s UK conference in Harrogate to restate its opposition to the current banding system for secondary schools. School leaders in Wales believe that publishing a single grade to indicate the performance of a school is unhelpful both in terms of resource allocation and in terms of informing parents and other stakeholders.
The banding system only applies to Welsh secondary schools thus far. Primary banding was originally planned for 2012 but has now been postponed until 2014.. The decision to postpone primary banding followed a successful campaign by NAHT Cymru.
Anna Brychan, Director of NAHT Cymru said:
‘We don’t think that the banding of secondary schools is helpful to parents, schools, pupils or the Welsh Government. We are entirely happy to talk about a system of accountability that takes a hard look at what a school achieves and makes a forensic examination of all its performance data. We don’t think this is it. The uniform single banding number is a blunt instrument that does not give the necessary precision for us to be sure that scant public resources are being targeted at the parts of the school system where they will have the most positive impact.
‘We support the production of a ‘report card’ for schools. This would give a series of grades on different aspects of a school’s performance rather than contorting the whole story into a single grade. This would give parents, teachers and local authorities a far clearer idea of the strengths and weaknesses of a school, allow the intelligent targeting of scant resources and help parents congratulate schools for the things they do well and ask informed questions about the things they do not.
‘The fact that some schools have had aspects of their work judged as excellent by Estyn but still have had a low banding judgement overall illustrates a problem that has left many parents frankly puzzled. Our report card would address that. The Welsh Government believes that parents deserve clear information about the performance of schools. We agree entirely. But schools give parents a range of data for their child’s performance because all children will do some things better than they do others. It is critical for their continued progress that this is recognised and addressed. The same argument should be applied to schools. Parents understand a ‘report card’ approach in the context of their own child; it is a little unfair to assume that they wouldn’t in the context of a whole school.’
Page Published: 08/05/2012