It’s the end of the school year and, if your child has been taking external exams, there will be a certain level of euphoria and high spirits.
The summer break is ahead and they can forget about school for a few weeks and enjoy their holidays – at least until the exam results are released in August.
For the school’s leadership team and governors those results are part of their school’s ‘scoreboard’; their position in the results tables will have an impact on how parents view their school when it comes to choosing where their child will go.
But the latest news is that Ofsted will punish schools who are playing a numbers game – rather than focusing on learning. This is going to change the focus in many schools. The challenge for the school is to get that balance right – exam success v. learning.
According to the new head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, schools have used a variety of tactics to ensure they have a respectable result on the performance table. This includes force-feeding primary children test exams and entering older students for exams that are ‘easy’ to pass.
The issue is that there appears to be an ‘either/or’ approach in many schools. It’s not a case of promoting good teaching to help children to understand the subjects well enough to be able to complete the exam competently. Some schools encourage a ‘cramming’ approach regardless of whether the child retains that information after the exam is over.
That’s not learning!
There has been a massive reliance on performance tables as an indicator of whether a school is ‘good’ or not. There’s been less importance attached to the pupils’ performance later on – what kind of degree have they achieved? How has their schooling impacted longer term?
If Ofsted starts to penalise schools who are playing the numbers game then perhaps it will cause a sea-change in how children are prepared for their futures. Surely a more balanced approach that features in-depth learning AND – as a consequence – students who are well-prepared for their exams will be a win-win for everyone.
As a parent who plays their part in creating this performance-related environment – what would your ideal school be like? Come and join the conversation on our Facebook Page.