Local authority school rating system kept secret to avoid “chilling effect”

The Ipswich Star is reporting that the system used to rate Suffolk schools by local education chiefs is being kept secret – because they say releasing the information is “not in the public interest”.

Suffolk County Council has refused a formal request from the EADT [East Anglican Daily Times] for information about the Red, Amber and Green (RAG) ratings for all of the county’s 299 schools. The RAG system was introduced last year as part of a school improvement programme – but has already caused controversy.

The EADT submitted a request, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI), but education officials say that the release of the data would cause a “chilling effect” and prevent “free and frank” advice or exchange of views between education officers and schools.

In the last ratings, 88 schools were “Red” – almost one third of the total. Almost half of secondary schools are rated red.

The FOI response also said the information was “confidential” to the school’s headteachers and governors. Reports and ratings from Ofsted inspections are published online and are therefore available for all to read.

Ironically, the response also says: “Achieving improvements in attainment requires a partnership between the county council, school leaders, governors, parents and pupils. The transparent sharing of all school performance data will support an acceleration in the development of a self-improving system.’’

…The council’s response also revealed that the rating system is “currently under review”.

The Suffolk Primary Headteachers’ Association – representing around 120 schools – launched a scathing attack on the council when the first round of ratings were issued last October. The next ratings are due to be published in September…

More at: Suffolk school rating system kept secret to avoid “chilling effect”


There does seem an apparent contradiction between the claims of transparent sharing of performance data to support a self-improving system and the suggestion that revealing the RAG ratings would cause a “chilling effect”.

What do you say? Is it either sensible or practical to sustain a ‘secret’ rating system of schools like this? Please give us your insights in the comments or via Twitter…


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  1. The evidence is in favour of Suffolk CC.  
    The general evidence is that assessment (of students, or schools etc) should be used only to promote improvement.
    The OFSTED league tables are divisive and so would the CC ratings, if they were publicised.

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