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New guidance on Schools Causing Concern published by DfE

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The Department for Education (DfE) has published the new guidance on Schools Causing Concern. This statutory guidance for local authorities and Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs) sets out the factors they will consider, and the process they will follow in order to decide the right approach to supporting a school to improve.

NAHT were engaged with the DfE in their development of this guidance and provided detailed feedback which we are pleased to see reflected in the final version. The new guidance reflects a positive shift in approach to the use of data for schools which meet the coasting definition. The guidance is clear that:

  • The coasting definition allows RSCs to identify which schools might need additional improvement support.
  • Meeting the definition is just the starting point of a process and no single piece of data will lead to intervention.
  • RSCs will consider the best approach for each individual school to ensure pupils are able to fulfil their potential on a consistent basis.
  • When a school meets the coasting definition, RSCs will engage with the school, and, where appropriate, the school's trust, local authorities and dioceses, to consider the measures already in place to improve the school's academic standards, and decide whether additional support is needed, prior to any letters being sent to the school to inform them they have met the definition.

NAHT has consistently argued that data is only a starting point and covers only a very small part of what a school does for its pupils, parents and the community around it. Too much significance is attached to the numerical pupil outcomes published in performance data in judging school performance and, in the current educational climate of change and reform to statutory tests and exams, we know that the year-on-year data contained within them is not comparable. This shift in approach to coasting schools is a welcome step which begins to recognise the limitations of performance data.

First published 31 January 2018