Schools' wellbeing scores to be public

11th July 2008 at 01:00
Fears that comparisons will lead to league table
Fears that comparisons will lead to league table

Schools face being ranked in league tables according to their pupils' general "wellbeing", with data collected on everything from children's social skills to how safe and healthy they feel.

Ministers have admitted for the first time that the controversial new set of "strong school level indicators", to hold schools accountable for their contribution to child wellbeing, will be made public.

Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, said using it to compile school league tables "would be the wrong thing to do". But his consultation document says the data should "enable comparisons to be made between similar schools".

Once the information, to be collected from September 2009, is made public, the Government will not be able to stop it appearing in league table form.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "I am extremely worried about the prospect of more league tables, especially in an area where schools only have limited influence."

The news came as ministers unveiled measures designed to make schools "more ambitious" about improving pupils' lives.

Draft guidance on schools' new statutory duty to promote the wellbeing of pupils insists that it is "confirming existing practice therefore, not imposing a burden".

But the document goes on to say schools should regularly evaluate pupils on each of the five Every Child Matters goals. No new funding is available for the exercise, requiring schools to seek parents' and pupils' views on local "challenges" such as poverty, gangs, alcohol, drugs, obesity, teenage pregnancy and sexual health.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said it will mean extra work for schools and "will just be another box to tick."

Asked by The TES how the Government could prevent pupil wellbeing league tables being compiled, Mr Balls said: "Our commitment is that we will produce school-level wellbeing indicators, and of course they will be public.

"The question is, how do you use that and where the accountability should lie, and I think that should happen right across the community."

The Government is also proposing to give schools a new legal duty to co-operate as partners in local children's trusts alongside local authorities and health trusts.

Ministers believe this will force schools to engage with other children's agencies, help them to have their voices heard and secure the support needed to improve lives.

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