Came across some Primary School League Tables in the Daily Telegraph yesterday. We’ve got three Church Primaries, so I looked with a bit of personal interest at the East Yorkshire section. But even before I started to go down the list I remembered why I hate such things.
1. They are only one version of a set of statistics. As such you need to know lots more about how they were derived – eg one kid having an off day in a small school completely stuffs up the figures. One less academic group in a particular year group and down to the bottom you go.
2. They only reveal a fraction of what it is to be educated, to teach and learn. Whoever said ‘You don’t fatten a pig’ by measuring it’ got it right.
3. Even if there are some measures of achievement that we agree are fair and should be a target for all schools, to then rank schools against each other, as if in competition, is so anti-collaborative as to be downright wicked. Yes, I know that it’s not the Government which ranks them, but by setting the numbers in that sort of format, ranking is inevitable.
Anyway, I looked, and then I was pleased because at least one of my schools refused to do SATs this summer, so they didn’t have a score. And then I was cross because another school I know was in there, and was OK but not at the very top. This one had just done the most amazing Christmas festival production I’ve ever seen. Every child did something, hundreds sang, played, danced and spoke. Beverley Minster was packed, and it was so good the Vicar cried .
If you’ve been around schools for a bit you can just sniff out when something brilliant is happening, and it was, and it could not be measured, and yet as a parent that’s what I’d want my child to experience. I got it again tonight when my Church School did something of equal vibrancy and joy and creativity.
I do hope that new moves in education will keep us up to the mark in speaking and writing and adding and evaluating – and I agree that we should be able to test and to demonstrate aptitude in them. But please oh please let’s liberate schools to do so much more – and to work together, not against each other. My local MP chairs the Education Select Committee. I feel a meeting coming on.