Having heard Mr Gove say that standards in schools should rise and those schools which are ‘only’ at Satisfactory will be driven to do better by turning them into Academy’s, I thought that this can’t really be right can it?
These standards exist so that Parents can look at the rating to have confidence that the school is doing what it should be. On the face of it, if a school received an inadequate rating, then I would take that as a bad thing and avoid it. However if it got Satisfactory, then I would look at that and think that it meets the fundamental needs of my child. Granted it may not have amazing bells and whistles, but it should be able to educate my child.
Even when you look at all the descriptions of the ratings:
|Exceptional: All or most elements of the school’s work are at least good, and significant elements are exemplary.|
|Good||Inspectors should consider the judgement good when:
A school may be good in a variety of ways, and may have pockets of excellence, but no school should be judged good if its performance is merely ordinary.
No school can be judged to be good unless learners are judged to make good progress.
|Satisfactory||The school’s work is inadequate in no major area, and may be good in some respects.|
A school is likely to be inadequate if one or more of the following are judged to be inadequate: the standards achieved; learners’ personal development and well-being; the overall quality of provision; leadership and management. The sixth form or Foundation Stage might also be inadequate, but where the numbers are small this does not necessarily lead to the judgement that the school as a whole is inadequate. At its worst, the school provides an unacceptable standard of education and it lacks the capacity to turn things round.
So this leads me to two issues, One : what is wrong with being Satisfactory? And Two, Surely those schools who are doing above satisfactory should be looked at for Over-performing? Are they wasting Tax Payers money by delivering too much and could that effort be better directed to lesser achieving schools? In business if you are constantly delivering more than what the customer is requiring, then you are wasting profit margin, does the same apply here?
In fact, what I think has happened is that the Bar has been lifted. Parents do not want their children to go to a “Satisfactory” school if there is a Good or Outstanding one on offer. This is probably driven by not understanding the baseline used to determine what Satisfactory is. Our only guide really is the words and Good and outstanding sound better that Satisfactory which infers that it is only just good enough.
So, the scale should either be reworded (maybe something like Really Underperforming, Under Performing, Just right, Over Performing) or a Satisfactory needs to be just that, the school is good enough. And then clearly define what that Good Enough is. Then when monitoring the schools, it has to be realised that too much needs to be reigned in as much as too little. Or an understanding of what the impact of too much really is.
Now, if I was going to be really radical, I would like to suggest that this should be linked to employability. Are we actually educating our students in things that will make them attractive to employers. Otherwise what is the point? And in this I would include up and perhaps beyond Degrees. Why should the state fund courses and syllabi that the state doesn’t need? It could be a powerful motivator if these tuition fees were scaled appropriately to future job predictions. Just a thought.
- Teaching in HALF of England’s secondary schools is still ‘not good enough’ (dailymail.co.uk)
- Pupils face ‘uninspiring’ lessons (bbc.co.uk)
- Poorly-performing schools will be forced to become academies (dailymail.co.uk)