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League tables 'stigmatise schools and demoralise communities'

Geoff Barton says ASCL is exploring how to design a more inclusive accountability system

Heads call for more inclusive exam reforms

Geoff Barton says ASCL is exploring how to design a more inclusive accountability system

Headteachers will spend the next year examining how school accountability could be reformed to put collaboration and partnership at the fore.

Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), warned today that the current system “stigmatises schools", making it harder to recruit teachers and leaders, and "demoralises families and communities”.

Speaking at the union’s annual conference in Birmingham, he asked: “How much value is there in a system that penalises schools with the most vulnerable learners?”


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Mr Barton told heads that ASCL was now working on plans for a more inclusive accountability system.

Tes revealed earlier this week that the heads’ union was considering calling for a change to league tables to ensure progress measures took account of pupils who had moved schools amid controversy surrounding off-rolling.

Mr Barton said ASCL wanted to create an accountability system that encouraged collaboration.

He also criticised the current exam system, which he said rubbed pupils noses in disappointment and denied a third of pupils the “dignity of a qualification”.

He said: “We’re exploring a new approach to performance tables. How much value is there in a system in which some schools – those in the most disadvantaged areas – are always most likely to fare the worst?”

He hit out at the suggestion that pointing this out was the “soft bigotry of low expectations”.

Mr Barton added: “While it may be true that Progress 8 is the best accountability measure we’ve had – or at least the least bad one – we want to explore what ‘inclusive accountability’ might look like.

"That is a system which is not built on the demeaning foundations that for one institution to do better another has to do worse, where instead there’s recognition of those leaders who look beyond the territory of their own school gates and work to ensure the quality provision for our most vulnerable young people, those too easily marginalised, excluded or off-rolled.

“Over the coming year, we’ll explore how inclusive accountability could recalibrate a fragmented education system, putting collaboration and partnership at the fore.”

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