Education and Adoption Bill

Written evidence submitted by Bill Griffiths (EAB 15)

I am responding to the proposals within the Bill as a headteacher, Primary Consultant and National Leader.

The definition of ‘coasting’ schools is simplistic and unintelligent

Floor targets for all schools, regardless of context, without differentiation, has always been a flawed concept. In my direct experience there is plenty of evidence that more affluent areas are underchallenged by L4 targets as they achieve 100% year after year. However such schools have suspiciously low L5 or L6 performance. If there is a measure it needs to reflect the level of affluence and prior advantage. Banding by IDACI quintiles would be fairer. 85% L4 is wholly unrealistic in some turbulent inner city schools and underwhelming in the suburbs.

Size of school

In a one form entry a child is 3%. In a small village school it can be 7% or more so falling below 85% could be one to five children. In Ofsted judgement less than 5 children is an insignificant size of group. Statistically and in reality of pupil movement a small school could be above the line one month and below it at SATS month.

SEN and high challenge families

We must not penalise schools for admitting such children. My school has a proud record with severe SEN but this brings down our L4. This year admitting 2 SEN who were rejected by other schools drop our performance by 7%. On top of this they drain our resources meaning we have less funding for intervention for other children. This is unfair.

Value added and progress measures

It is clear having analysed EYFS data and KS1 data that affluent areas tend to suppress data so that the progress measure is protected. Top quintile areas citing national average entry profile is not logical or reliable. All schools may be less positive with judgements on younger children in fear of the progress measure. Corruption of the system is present now but will only get worse if the Bill becomes law.

Forced Sponsorship

There is no evidence that sponsors are effective over time with schools in different phases or contexts. Indeed even HMI agree that secondary schools sponsoring primary schools is flawed and even foolish. There is an assumption that because a school is good or outstanding it is capable of providing training and support to improve another. I have spoken to both secondary and primary schools who have received support but felt it was inadequate. There is no quality assurance of the potential sponsor and I am sure many sponsors have weaker teaching than the so called coasting school.

Threat v development

The role of the RSC and the threat of takeover will weaken research and risk taking. A play safe no change culture will develop as schools will not dare risk any new approach. All schools will be average and excellent new pedagogy will be stifled.

Funding

Funding is a lottery. My school is County by half a mile. If I were in the City I would have thousands more to fund support programs and SEN. Yet I have City children and high challenge. My floor targets will be the same. This being the case makes a common floor target grossly unfair.

July 2015

Prepared 7th July 2015