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Government aims to increase school accountability

15/10/2013 Joanna
Secondary teachers' success in raising pupil attainment will be measured across a wider range of subjects under new measures designed to increase school accountability.

Until now, secondary schools have been judged by how many of their pupils achieve a grade C or better in five different subjects including maths and English.

However, in a statement to parliament, schools minister David Laws has announced this system is to be replaced by a more detailed assessment of school performance.

He explained that the current arrangement results in schools focusing disproportionately on children on the boundary between grades C and D, to the detriment of higher and lower achieving pupils.

Mr Laws also warned that many schools, especially in affluent areas, are not incentivised to stretch their pupils as far as they could, and only assessing pupil performance in five subjects discourages schools from offering a wider curriculum.

The government will therefore henceforth require schools to publish core information on their websites indicating their performance against four key measures, including pupils' progress across eight subjects and the average grade pupils achieve in these subjects at GCSE.

Schools will also have to divulge what percentage of their pupils get at least grade Cs in English and maths, and what proportion achieve the English baccalaureate - namely, getting at least Cs in English, maths, history or geography, two sciences, and a foreign language.

Moreover, a new floor standard is being introduced based on the eight-subject progress measure, with secondary schools to now be rated on how their pupils' performance at GCSE compares to their key stage two results.

This is designed to penalise schools that fail to help children maximise their potential, and reward those that raise attainment levels among more challenging pupil intakes.

Mr Laws told fellow MPs: "More pupils will get the teaching they require and will obtain the valuable qualifications they need.

"These proposals will have a major and positive effect on our education system. We hope they will secure support from across the political spectrum."

Commenting on the new system, Association of Teachers and Lecturers general secretary Mary Bousted told BBC News she welcomed the move towards measuring progress rather than just grades achieved, although she questioned the validity of taking pupils' Sats tests as a starting point.

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