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ADCS chief deems academies debate over

15/04/2013 Joanna
The new Association of the Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) chief has said that discussion needs to take place over what those in teacher jobs are teaching their pupils, not where.

Official figures published in January indicated that there were 2,619 academies already open in England - comprising 48 per cent of all secondary schools and six per cent of primaries - with a further 568 schools in the pipeline to switch to academy status.

The government's commitment to these institutions, which are independent of local authority control, has received criticism from some quarters, including the National Union of Teachers.

Yet new ADCS president Andrew Webb believes that the question of whether the academies programme was good or not was "the wrong debate" and that the focus should be on what children are learning.

He said there needed to be a rigorous focus on the needs of all pupils across a range of population groups, with primary and secondary teachers tailoring their methods to meet these differences and that children should be expected to meet stretching targets, especially in core subjects.

Furthermore, Mr Webb claimed that the country's best schools already highlighted what was required from a quality curriculum, stating that they offered a broad and balanced range of lessons "designed to promote the talent, aptitude and ability of all children".

He argued: "We are at our best when we are the advocate and champion for all children; that's our role, no one else has it.

"This means we are willing to say the uncomfortable things a school might not wish to hear and praise the success where schools do well."

Mr Webb also expressed concern over schools "becoming slaves to the media-friendly league table", asserting that reliance on this "one-dimension indicator" could have a negative impact on individual outcomes and pupil engagement.

A government-sponsored report by New Economics Foundation fellow David Boyle, published back in January, also suggested that league tables might disincentivise good schools from taking in pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.

His review into barriers to choice in public services advocated that the government devise and publish a parallel 'opportunity transformation' league table, comparing schools' performances in achieving the best outcomes for free school meal children and narrowing the attainment gap.

Posted by Tim ColmanADNFCR-2164-ID-801571046-ADNFCR
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