Sunday, July 3rd, 2011 I should begin this blog post with a note of slight regret. It gives me no pleasure to be writing something which is critical of the Bew report, especially given the courtesy with which Lord Bew treated me in giving evidence to the review. He invited me to do so, and even wrote me a handwritten note to thank me afterwards.  The review’s interim report, published in April, was, I thought, a largely impressive synthesis of evidence on this subject which gave me hope that, whatever the outcome and whatever the constraints of the remit, the issues would be given aRead More →

  Friday, June 17th, 2011 A study apparently demonstrating the benefits of academy status seems to have been highly influential in recent weeks. The research, by academics at the London School of Economics, was published in April. It has been picked up not only by Blairite commentators who backed the original academies policy, but now by the Department for Education in its push to encourage all schools to become academies. I would also hazard a guess that it was in the mind of the Today programme presenter Sarah Montague when she asked a sceptical head teacher yesterday morning to accept the statement that academies improveRead More →

Wednesday, 1st June, 2011 Right, I haven’t blogged for a while, but thought I’d just post here an extract from a speech I made just after Christmas about what can be read into English Sats results for 11-year-olds. I’ve been prompted to do this after reading, over the last two days, the Evening Standard’s coverage of what it claims is a literacy crisis in London. Yesterday, part of its front-page coverage talked about one in four children being “practically illiterate”, seemingly based on the proportion of pupils achieving level 3 or below in English Sats. Today, it highlighted the number of pupils “with a readingRead More →

  Tuesday, 5th April, 2011 This is just a brief blog to acknowledge the publication today of the interim report by Lord Bew’s inquiry into Key Stage 2 assessment. I have to say, I have been impressed with the amount of evidence garnered by this review. More than 4,000 people responded to the online consultation, and the review also heard from 50 people in person. There is a lot of research referenced. I gave evidence myself, setting out concerns raised in Education by Numbers, and discussing with the panel the strengths and weaknesses of the current system. On a snap judgement, Bew seems to meRead More →

…he’d say something about academies’ English Baccalaureate results  Monday, March 28th, 2011 Last autumn, Michael Gove appeared on the BBC’s Question Time and launched a passionate attack on what he claimed was a glaring injustice within English education. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds, he suggested, were being let down by a system which assumed they could not succeed in traditional academic subjects. He said: “If you look at what happens in France, or in Holland, or in Canada, or in Singapore, or in Hong Kong, or in any of the countries which have got education systems many of which are much better than our own, they expectRead More →

Friday, March 25th, 2011 Warwick Mansell I have been interested in two debates in English education for several years now. One starts along the lines: “Standards are not high enough. We need to hold our schools to account properly so that they improve exam results for all young people, who so desperately need better grades. We also need to use results data to target our efforts to help pupils do better.” The other says: “Schooling driven by performance indicators is creating a whole host of negative consequences, which go to the heart of pupils’ educational experiences.” I often feel like these debates take place almostRead More →

Wednesday, March 15th, 2011. England’s secondary maths curriculum is likely to become “more challenging” for pupils from 2013, one of the government’s leading civil servants said today. Jon Coles, who has a key role in the national curriculum review which was launched in January, suggested that while the primary maths curriculum in this country was quite similar to that of “top-performing” countries internationally, this was not the case from the age of 11 onwards. He set out the thinking behind the review and – perhaps boldly, given that the review is only just over six weeks old – offered a taste of what some conclusionsRead More →

  Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 Ok, I’ve decided to do something slightly different, here, in the form of a blog largely not written by me, but based on two emails I’ve received in recent months on the vexed and often technical issue of data analysis systems and target-setting. This may be overly technical for some non-teacher readers of this blog, but I thought I’d put it up here as I get occasional inquiries about the Fischer Family Trust system in particular, and am interested in the implications of how these systems work in the classroom. What follows are the more-or-less verbatim contents of two emailsRead More →

  Wednesday, March 2nd I had an interesting chat yesterday with the Ofsted press office. A press officer called me after I wrote an article for the Financial Times*, which was published on Saturday, on the effects of results pressures in schools. This included the following paragraph: “Ofsted inspections have, in recent years, focused heavily on statistical indicators of school quality that are largely based on exam performance.” Ofsted’s argument was that inspections aren’t now as dependent on test/exam data as is commonly perceived. Particularly since the introduction of the latest version of the Ofsted framework, in September 2009, more emphasis is being placed onRead More →

Friday, February 25th Just a quick blog now on two interesting stories in this morning’s TES. First, Helen Ward wrote a piece about the Government abandoning plans billed as “league tables for five-year-olds”. This proposal, spotted by Helen in the small print of the Department for Education’s draft Business Plan last autumn, said data would have been published on the “achievements of children at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile, by school”. Today’s story reveals that the move is being abandoned, following serious opposition including a petition which garnered nearly 1,000 signatures. Those quoted in the piece were all opposed to theRead More →