'No hiding place for poor teaching'

28th November 1997 at 00:00
"This leaves poor quality teaching with no place to hide," Douglas Osler, senior chief inspector, said this week in summing up the new Scottish Office moves to develop value-added measures and relative ratings for school subject departments.

He was speaking as Donald Dewar, the Secretary of State, made his first appearance at an education press conference to launch this year's exam tables. Brian Wilson, the Education Minister, confirmed last week's TES Scotland report that a decision on whether raw results will be issued centrally in future years will be influenced by the attitude of his action group on standards.

Mr Wilson added: "To say that raw results carry a Government health warning is an understatement. The more we publish information which is superior to what we have at present, the more perverse it would be to place undue emphasis on information which can be downright misleading and which gives no credit to the superb work carried out by schools in areas of disadvantage."

But, while he is keeping an open mind on whether national publication of results is desirable, the Minister said he was not prepared to deny information to parents "just because it might be wrongly used".

Parents are now to have access to digestible data on departmental performance in their own school in a customised booklet entitled How good are our results? which is being sent to every school board. This will show how schools have added value to pupils' progress between Standard grade and Higher, and also how pupils perform in each Standard grade and Higher subject compared with their other subjects.

But Mr Osler and ministers were at pains to stress that the new information, which has been available internally to school staff for years in standard tables issued by the examination body, is not a weapon with which to hound teachers. "There are many factors which produce poor quality teaching," Mr Osler observed.

Mr Dewar commented: "This is not some kind of case for the prosecution, a charge sheet to be laid against individual teachers. Comparisons between departments may illustrate a need to take action, which may not necessarily be related to individual teachers."

Exam reports, pages 4-5

Tables TES2, pages 19-23

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