During this week the Primary school League Tables have been published. As usual there are the headlines and analysis proclaiming the best 100, the top 10, the worst performing Local Authorities… Politicians pick and choose parts of the data to justify their views, parents are encouraged to regard it as an oracle, schools working hard to improve for their pupils are put under greater pressure….
And of course, it’s all based on a system of using levels. A system which so many people have discredited, that the DfE have done away with the system.
One of the key reasons for removing levels identified by Tim Oates is the damaging nature of labelling and self-labelling of learners. What about the damage on individual schools?
The Commission on Assessment without Levels (September 2015) stated:
“The measurement of the performance of schools and of the system as a whole has exerted undue influence on the assessment of individual pupils…Teachers are subject to conflicting pressures: trying to make appropriate use of assessment as part of the day-to-day task of classroom teaching, while at the same time collecting assessment data which will be used in very high stakes evaluation of individual and institutional performance. These conflicted purposes too often affect adversely the fundamental aims of the curriculum, particularly regarding breadth of content and depth of learning”.
So why the annual fanfare, furore and analysis about the Primary School League Tables?
Why is it when repeatedly research, the DfE, Ofsted… talk about the importance of a self-improving system; of the power of schools working together collaboratively for the benefit for all schools/pupils, are schools still ranked in this very public and judgemental way? How does putting schools into a competitive annual context, support open trusting supportive inter school relationships and improvements for the learners?
I suppose in a similar way to the system of Performance Related Pay enables a supportive, professional learning team ethos within a school!
We discuss with the pupils so regularly not to judge themselves against others, to focus on the improvements they have made compared to where they were last week, term, year. We know this motivates and inspires them to make greater progress. Maybe the DfE not be doing the same for schools?