On 16th October we met at Glyn School to mark our first anniversary as a group. The Roundtable included HTRT members and several regular supporters including Liam Collins, Duncan Spalding, Nigel Utton and Dr Carol Davenport
There was a quick update on progress with the HTRT Baccalaureate trial, launched at the Institute of Education on September 20th. 13 schools are involved in the trial; further updates will be provided in due course.
The main goal of this gathering was to look at the responses to our Accountability Consultation. (Later this week we hope to have a link on the website to the Prezi showing the gist of your collated responses.) This included some discussions about local accountability models and alternatives to OfSTED.
We were delighted to have DFE Adviser Tim Leunig in attendance and we spent a large part of the day discussing the new data accountability measures which had been announced the previous day.
While it is too early to be certain about the effects of these changes, it is fair to say that @headsroundtable are generally pleased with the announcement. The following bullet points summarise our understanding of how this will work.
The new measures will apply from 2016, but schools can choose to ‘opt in’ from 2015.
- Every school’s floor target will be different as it will be based on progress across 8 subjects, known as ‘the basket’
- ‘The basket’ contains English (which will double count unless not doing Lit in which case stays as a single count), Maths and any 3 of – core science, additional science, biology, physics, chemistry, computer science, geography, history, any classical or modern language. The additional 3 may be BTeC or GCSE
- It will be possible to fill ‘the basket’ without doing a science at all, or a humanity or a language and ‘the basket’ clearly gives plenty of room for specialisation. Eg. A student could do Bio, Chem, Phy, Engineering, Product Design and Business. Another could do Geog, His, Latin, Art, RE, and Sociology. ‘The basket’ does not need to be filled, but unfilled spaces will score nil.
- Exams will still be graded, but the progress measure will use points with A*=8 and G=1.
- A school’s floor standard will be the average expectation of progress minus 0.5 of a grade across 8 subjects. Eg if a student should get 8xA* (64), the actual floor target would be 4xA* and 4xA (60). This is averaged across all the cohort and becomes the school’s floor target. This is based on a national mapping of KS2 points to KS4 points to provide the expected outcomes.
- When the cohort is in Y9 the matrix of the floor standard will be issued, based on the exams last summer and how students did then compared with their KS2 results. So we are due this during this academic year. (We are assured that government realises that there will be an effect of exams ‘becoming harder’ and so they are working to factor this in.)
- More than 8 in ‘the basket’ will not be counted, but less than 8 will. This means that if a student is expected on prior attainment to get 8×1 from ‘the basket’, in order for the school to a) ensure the student gets qualifications with a better currency b) ensure that the student is not a ‘drag’ on achieving the floor target, and c) provide an appropriate curriculum diet, they could only take 5 within the 8 but get more than the 8 points. Eg Maths, English and 3 BTecs. (We see this as very positive news for SEN and likely to raise aspirations and achievement. )
- The DfE intend to put ‘a widget’ on every school’s website which gives the following information:
- Your average VA per grade (eg 0.5 or -0.5 etc) against expected progress using the national mapping of KS2 to KS4 points.
- Your average grade in ‘the basket’ of 8 ( expressed as C, C+, D- etc)
- Your %C+ in En and M
- Your % EBacc
The overall effect of these measures should be that:
1. School do not have to narrow the curriculum offer in order to satisfy accountability measurement priorities. The focus on Maths and English remains, but a strong ‘basket’ average can’t be secured without a broad curriculum.
2. KS4 Curriculum choice is secured with a wide range of permutations that meet the ‘basket’ criteria. (Importantly, ‘Best 8’ is not an accurate description of the basket; it may not be.)
3. The VA measure, based on KS2 points on intake, is such that all schools could, in theory, gain positive scores. In reality, it will be very challenging. Selective schools with strong results in raw terms may well struggle to gain a zero or positive VA score, unless they are exceeding expected outcomes.
4. The combination of the VA and average grade will have a much stronger tendency to ensure that every grade for every child counts. The 5A*-CEM threshold (aka 5 Cs) with all the inherent perverse incentives has gone.
Our next goal is to secure a meeting with Sir Michael Wilshaw to raise questions about other aspects of the accountability framework. This is something that Michael Gove offered to facilitate when we met him in August. We also hope to meet up with Tristram Hunt.
With this work ongoing and the Bacc trial in progress, our next Roundtable meeting is set for February 4th at Huntington in York.