It’s not often that I condone a rebellious action by any particular group, but this is one of those exceptions. Head teachers across the country have joined together and decided to boycott the sats tests for 10 and 11 year olds, saying that they are not a fair reflection of the school. This is a classic example of a government measure, designed to compare the performance of schools, put in place without being properly thought through. These tests are supposed to measure the performance of the school, whereas many parents see them as a gauge of their individual child’s progress. This puts pressure on both the teachers and pupils and the tests end up being a measure of which school can ‘teach the test’ best. Also, some schools put subtle strategies in place to ensure that pupils who are struggling to reach the required standard either don’t do the tests or are given assistance.
For some time head teachers have been saying that these tests are not fit for purpose. However, instead of listening to their concerns, the exiting schools secretary, Ed Balls, took his usual approach and wrote to school governors setting out their responsibilities and what action they could take if the head teacher boycotted the sats. Not very helpful!
Performance measures are important, as long as they are purposeful. Currently, across the whole landscape of the public sector an inordinate amount of leaders time is spent on providing performance data instead of doing the job they’re paid to do. This performance data is passed to a number of government and quango departments created for the purpose of evidencing effectiveness and efficiency within best value. That is a paradox, as these performance departments are continually increasing in size – and expense!
Not long ago a few Chief Constables stated that they were ignoring some of the Home Office performance measurements. Now head teachers are boycotting sats, so a quick bit of advice to David Cameron, as he takes up his new role. To reduce public spending, conduct an immediate review of the performance measurement nonsense that currently exists and listen to the practitioners as to the relevance of the measures imposed.
Post by Alan