Wales Online is reporting that a union representing head teachers in Wales has hit out at the Welsh Government’s new school categorisation system, claiming those operating in most challenged circumstances will be harshly treated…
The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) Cymru said a new colour-coded model for holding schools to account was “at odds with government policy” and gave those in areas of high deprivation “more hoops to jump through”.
A row between secondary school leaders and government officials has been brewing for some time but appears to have boiled over just weeks before Wales’ national categorisation system is due to go live.
Every school in Wales will be placed into one of four groups next month, although there is some concern about the data being used to group them.
The nation’s regional consortia are said to be annoyed because the “indicative” criteria they have been working against has changed, resulting in a significant number of provisional categorisation judgements being changed.
It is believed that less emphasis on pupil attendance and more onus on the performance of those eligible for free school meals – a measure of poverty – has come as a blow to some schools in more disadvantaged areas.
Guidelines state that no school will be allowed into the higher echelons of the categorisation system if it fails to meet the 25.8% Wales average of pupils gaining five A*-C grades at GCSE including English or Welsh and maths (Level 2+), regardless of contextual factors.
And a delay in disseminating actual scores – officials only confirmed to consortia how the data would impact on schools on December 12 – has left heads with just a matter of weeks to undertake a contributing self-evaluation process.
A combination of performance data and moderated self-evaluation will determine which colour a school is given in January, and the promised input of teachers themselves has been integral to winning the support of unions.
Robin Hughes, who as secretary of ASCL Cymru represents the majority of secondary school leaders in Wales, said: “Categorisation is a good idea, but the way that Welsh Government are going about it is yet another example of how they seem to be able to make a pig’s ear out of a silk purse…”
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