The government published the results from a consultation on secondary school accountability. The report stated that the proposals were broadly welcomed as an improvement on the existing accountability measures and the government intended to proceed with the policy direction set out in the consultation document, adapting some of the proposals in light of evidence gathered through the consultation.
Source: Reforming the Accountability System for Secondary Schools: Government response to the February to May 2013 consultation on secondary school accountability, Department for Education
A report examined the role of local councillors in the scrutiny of schools.
Source: Su Turner and Ann Reeder, Back to School: Ways for scrutiny to influence local education and support school leaders to improve results, Local Government Association/Centre for Public Scrutiny
An article examined the new school inspection regime in England, introduced in January 2012. The new system had created challenges for both the teaching profession and for the inspectors of education given the task of implementing it, since it demanded increased involvement by serving teachers and head teachers as part of the inspection process. The article considered whether the professional values and skills required to implement the new framework might conflict with professional teaching identities, thus raising the possibility of further tensions in the inspection – and governance – of education in England.
Source: Jacqueline Aundree Baxter, 'Professional inspector or inspecting professional? Teachers as inspectors in a new regulatory regime for education in England', Cambridge Journal of Education, Volume 43 Issue 4
An article examined variations in educational policy and performance across the different countries of the United Kingdom. There was considerable variation in child development between countries, with no single story of 'success'. But literacy development among children in England (particularly London) was, on average, greater than for children elsewhere.
Source: Chris Taylor, Gareth Rees, and Rhys Davies, 'Devolution and geographies of education: the use of the Millennium Cohort Study for "home international" comparisons across the UK', Comparative Education, Volume 49 Issue 3
A report examined the value and accessibility of available information about the quality of teaching in secondary schools in England.
Source: Empowering Parents, Improving Accountability, Open Public Services Network
The government began consultation on proposals to raise standards in primary schools in England. From 2016, primary schools would need to have at least 85 per cent of their pupils at age 11 above a new, more stretching, threshold and ready for secondary school. If a school fell below the floor target, they would be prioritized for rapid improvement, and an Ofsted inspection would be triggered. A new reporting method would compare each pupil against their peers nationally: pupils' positions would only be made available to parents and schools. The pupil premium for primary schools would be increased to £1,300 per disadvantaged primary school pupil in 2014-15, up from £900 per child in 2013-14.
Source: Primary Assessment and Accountability under the New National Curriculum, Department for Education
Links: Consultation document | Hansard (1) | Hansard (2) | DE press release | ATL press release | Labour Party press release | NAHT press release | NASUWT press release | NUT press release | Voice press release | BBC report | Guardian report | Telegraph report
A report identified a causal relationship between regional deprivation and school performance in Northern Ireland. It confirmed the negative impact of deprivation frequently found in the literature, but also found that education and 'crime deprivation' rather than financial deprivation played a significant role in determining outcomes. It said that this confirmed the limitations of using income as a proxy for neighbourhood deprivation: policies focusing only on income redistribution would be unsuccessful in improving the education outcomes of those exposed to deprivation.
Source: Neil Ferguson and Maren Michaelsen, The Legacy of Conflict: Regional deprivation and school performance in Northern Ireland, Discussion Paper 7489, Institute for the Study of Labor (Bonn)
A paper examined recent academic evidence from developed countries on the effect of school resources on student outcomes. Increases in resources were usually, though not ubiquitously, found to be more effective in disadvantaged schools and/or for disadvantaged students at all phases.
Source: Stephen Gibbons and Sandra McNally, The Effects of Resources across School Phases: A summary of recent evidence, DP1226, Centre for Economic Performance (London School of Economics)
An article examined the education reforms of the constituent countries of the United Kingdom, with particular focus on value for money. It examined how the countries compared in terms of educational attainment during compulsory schooling years; inequalities in educational attainment, such as by gender and socio-economic status; and the effectiveness and value for money of different education policies and programmes. Evidence was found that increasing school resources improved results, and also that more targeted spending benefited able pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. Although the value for money of certain policies such as the literacy hour could be reasonably well measured, for many other policies it was hard to do so accurately.
Source: Stephen Machin, Sandra McNally, and Gill Wyness, 'Educational attainment across the UK nations: performance, inequality and evidence', Educational Research, Volume 55 Number 2
The coalition government published a review of school efficiency, designed to highlight best practice and improve value for money. It identified seven key characteristics of the most efficient schools.
Source: Review of Efficiency in the Schools System, Department for Education
The inspectorate for education and children's services said that too many of the most able children and young people in England were underperforming in non-selective state secondary schools. Almost two-thirds of high-attaining pupils in English and maths (on leaving primary school) failed to achieve the top grade in both of these GCSE subjects in 2012 this represented over 65,000 students.
Source: The Most Able Students: Are they doing as well as they should in our non-selective secondary schools?, HMI 130118, Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills
Links: Report | OFSTED press release | ASCL press release | ATL press release | Full Fact blog post | Labour Party press release | NAHT press release | NASUWT press release | NUT press release | Sutton Trust press release | BBC report | Daily Mail report | Guardian report | Telegraph report
Notes: GCSE = General Certificate of Secondary Education.
An article examined accountability in education in Europe countries. Accountability was increasingly defined as technical accountability through international and national comparative measures of performance, so that political accountability had been displaced. 'Performativity' contributed to growing problems of diminished trust across and within education systems.
Source: Jenny Ozga, 'Accountability as a policy technology: accounting for education performance in Europe', International Review of Administrative Sciences, Volume 79 Number 2
A report highlighted the work being done by local councils in England and Wales to support school improvement. Local councils were adapting to increased school autonomy by strengthening and deepening their relationships with schools. A wide variety of models were developing, ranging from 'stand-alone' improvement services jointly owned with schools to comprehensive packages of services closely matched to schools' needs.
Source: The Council Role in School Improvement: Case studies of emerging models, Local Government Association/Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers
A think-tank report examined the effects of league table-based school accountability on the provision of high-quality vocational education in England. It said that a recent change to the way school performance was measured meant that most vocational qualifications would no longer count towards a school's league table score: the effect of this was likely to be a rapid decline in the provision of vocational education for the 14-16 age group. In other countries with successful vocational education systems, there was a completely different relationship between school accountability and vocational provision. School accountability was arguably more rigorous in some of these countries: but in most cases it was decoupled from the school-leaving exams and, by extension, the curriculum content in the latter stages of secondary school. Strengthening the vocational education system would entail shifting away from an accountability system focused on a leaving certificate at age 16, and increasing and expanding programmes of vocational study and post-school institutions.
Source: Will Cook, Vocational Education in English Schools: Protecting options for pre-16 pupils, Institute for Public Policy Research
An article compared outcomes in England and Wales before and after policy changes in the governance of schools and hospitals. The governance model of 'trust and altruism' resulted in worse reported performance in Wales as compared with England on what were each government's key objectives. 'Naming and shaming' worked in England, as compared with Wales, resulting in improved examination performance and eliminating the endemic problem of long waiting times.
Source: Gwyn Bevan and Deborah Wilson, 'Does "naming and shaming" work for schools and hospitals? Lessons from natural experiments following devolution in England and Wales', Public Money and Management, Volume 33 Issue 4
A think-tank report proposed a fundamental shake-up of how schools and pupils were assessed, in order to rescue an education system 'obsessed' with targets and league tables. It said that the system of official (Ofsted) inspections should be scrapped in favour of an approach that took into account the views of parents, teachers, and pupils, as well as inspectors, in the production of an annual report on a school's performance.
Source: James Park, Detoxifying School Accountability: The case for multi-perspective inspection, Demos
The inspectorate for education and children's services said that personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education in England was inadequate in 40 per cent of cases examined.
Source: Not Yet Good Enough: Personal, social, health and economic education in schools, HMI 130065, Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills
A new book examined established and emerging ideas about effective school and system improvement. It highlighted 'fallacies' such as: that poverty determined performance; that achievement could not be realized at scale; that innovation and networking always added value; and that it was curriculum rather than learning that counted. The same values and strategies that upheld social equity were shown to also promote quality in teaching, strong system leadership, regional capacity building, and whole school design.
Source: David Hopkins, Exploding the Myths of School Reform, Open University Press
The coalition government announced that it would change the 'floor standard' for primary schools in England with effect from 2014. The target proportion of pupils achieving the expected levels in English and maths would be raised from 60 per cent to 65 per cent.
Source: Speech by David Laws MP (Minister of State for Schools), 5 March 2013
The government began consultation on proposals to exclude from 16–19 performance tables in England any vocational qualification that did not meet new, higher standards from September 2014.
Source: Government Proposals to Reform Vocational Qualifications for 16–19 Year Olds, Department for Education
A report said that big variations in the ranking of England's education system in global 'league tables' could be misleading and should be treated with caution, because of apparent inconsistencies in coverage and methodology.
Source: Alan Smithers, Confusion in the Ranks: How good are Englands schools?, Sutton Trust
An article said that England's drop in the cross-national Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) ranking was not replicated in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), and that this contrast might be due to data limitations in both surveys. The coalition government should not therefore base educational policies on the assumption that the performance of England's secondary school pupils had declined over the previous decade.
Source: John Jerrim, 'The reliability of trends over time in international education test scores: is the performance of England's secondary school pupils really in relative decline?', Journal of Social Policy, Volume 42 Issue 2
A new book said that despite the best efforts of reformers and rapidly improving results in academies and elsewhere, even some of the best schools were struggling to help the 'tail' the lowest-achieving 20 or 30 per cent of pupils. Schools, local authorities, and even whole regions were trapped in a 'rut of low ambition and poor performance' and seemed unable to address the problem. Contributors to the book proposed a range of 'practical and achievable solutions'.
Source: Paul Marshall (ed.), The Tail: How England's schools fail one child in five and what can be done, Profile Books
The inspectorate for education services announced a series of targeted school inspections, within a condensed one-week period, in geographical areas where the proportion of children attending a good or better school was significantly below the national average for England. It also proposed a new framework for inspecting the school improvement service being provided by under-performing local authorities.
Source: Press release 17 January 2013, Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills