John Whitehouse

Retired County Councillor for Kenilworth Abbey Division Learn more

Failing Schools?

by John Whitehouse on 28 February, 2008

On Monday we had yet another Government initiative on ‘failing schools’, with Ed Balls threatening to put hit-squads into any school not achieving at least 30% of students with 5+ A*-C grades at GCSE including English and Maths.

As chance would have it, the very next day the WCC Childrens Young People & Families Overview & Scrutiny Committee was reviewing the Key Stage 4 (i.e. GCSE) performance of Warwickshire schools. We are fortunate to have very few schools at around the 30% achievement level or less, but those that are serve some of the most deprived communities in the county.

Has Ed Balls not heard of the ‘Contextual Value Added’ (CVA) measure of achievement, which is the main yardstick used by Ofsted and most people who understand education? Why do he and his civil servants persist in looking at raw attainment scores? CVA is the best measure we have of the real impact a school has onĀ its pupilsĀ – i.e. is the quality of pupil they turn out better than what they take in.

The irony is that at least one Warwickshire school that might be on Ed Balls’ hit list is nearly the top-performing school in the county in terms of CVA, with an inspirational head and excellent leadership team.

I wish national goverment would just set the ground rules and leave local people to get on with the job. Some hope …… !

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