Ticking Time Bombs!

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Information about Ticking Time Bombs!
Education

Published on April 22, 2014

Author: PeterEccles

Source: slideshare.net

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A warning regarding Ofsted's claims that more schools are 'good' when actually there is a lot further to go! See my blog at www.petereccles.co.uk

Ticking Time-Bombs! A recent ofsted tweet struck me as some kind of masked political ‘win’ as it claimed that 60% of schools are now ‘good’. This claim concerns me for two reasons. Firstly, the designation ‘good’ has to be interpreted carefully as it is certainly not equal to the phrase ‘job done’. In fact, while it is good to hear ofsted making such positive pronouncements about the quality of English education, ‘good’, at least in the common understanding of the word, is possibly over-ambitious. I say this as so many schools have been on a steep learning curve as they have had to manage the raised hurdles of the latest inspection framework but also, more importantly, to grapple with the cultural and societal obstacles to providing an education which really is ‘good’ compared to those of our international competitors. A particularly pertinent example is the challenge schools face, quite rightly, in attempting to halt the decline in benchmarks measuring standards of literacy which has occurred over the last two generations. Again, I think it is important to note that cultural and societal factors provide forces which undermine the work of teachers and it would be at least narrow-minded to attribute any decline in educational standards to the performance of teachers exclusively. On the other hand, Professor Guy Claxton, in What’s the Point of School, concluded from research that a child’s commitment to regular reading is the one, key factor that will determine his or her success in education. Other factors such as the nature of parents’ educational background, social status, geographical location are to be dismissed when compared with succeeding in facing the colossal challenge of a young person putting down the gaming console and picking up a book. So, if this is the measure we have to face up to and evaluate our education system against then there is probably a lot more to be done. Secondly, returning to ofsted, if you know what to look for, a few minutes on the ofsted website reveals how many schools are currently presenting themselves as ‘good’ according to a last inspection carried out early in 2012. Inspection judgments conducted prior to exam results that would have been considered ‘satisfactory’ or ‘requiring improvement’ in the August of the same year or the following one should be considered redundant under the new inspection framework. These schools will have to brace themselves for settling for a lower grade or even to be judged as requiring improvement if, and this is the interesting point, ofsted operates fairly and consistently without any reference to political winds of change that naturally occur in the lead up to a general election. Schools will still be waiting for their ‘days of reckoning’, possibly sitting on ticking time- bombs of data that will undermine their previous self-image of ‘good’. Inevitably, if ofsted continues to inspect schools with a fair and objective application of the new inspection framework then it is clear that the claim of 60% of education being ‘good’ will be undermined by so many ticking time- bombs coupled with the fact that inadequate schools will not have had enough time to prove themselves. And, yes, I am aware that performance between schools is relative even in today’s world of consistent expectations of schools but the same investigation on the ofsted website will also demonstrate that the ticking time-bombs are often also schools that fare unsatisfactorily with schools that are considered ‘similar’. Rome wasn’t built in a day and, most certainly, a sustained and demonstrable rise in educational standards cannot be achieved in one coalition party’s term of office either!

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