Questions raised over new ‘grading’ scheme for schools in Wales

Wales Online is reporting that opposition parties have called for clarity after a decision by the Welsh Government to introduce new-look ranking systems for schools in Wales…

Education Minister Huw Lewis yesterday confirmed that a planned review of secondary school “banding” and moves to develop primary school “grading” were now under way.

He said a revised banding model would be introduced later this year, while Wales’ primaries would each be given a grade – despite well-documented concerns over their relative size – for the first time from the autumn…

Mr Lewis said: “The measures included in the current secondary school banding model are being reviewed to ensure that the model continues to align with our priorities for education in Wales, in particular with a focus on reducing the impact of deprivation on attainment.

“A primary school grading model is also being developed to help us better identify schools most in need of support. It will give parents across Wales a clear picture of how schools are performing.

“Both the review of secondary school banding and the development of a primary school grading model will be considered alongside the national categorisation system developed by regional consortia for schools.

“A revised secondary school banding model and a new primary school grading model will be introduced in autumn 2014.”

Plans for a new “national school improvement and categorisation system” as a means of ensuring schools get the right support and intervention to improve were first revealed by WalesOnline in January.

Unlike banding, the system will extend to primaries as well as secondaries and see schools in Wales categorised annually into one of four groups.

A judgement on standards – based on available data – will be made, and schools at the lowest end of the scale (category four) will languish in the “red zone”.

Red schools will be those “causing concern” and “failing in most or all aspects of school performance”. They will be sent an automatic warning letter from their local authority and be subject to statutory powers of intervention where necessary.

Shadow Education Minister Angela Burns said: “It’s vital for confidence in our education system that parents, pupils and
teachers can access robust and accessible data about the performance of schools, but Labour’s banding is not fit for purpose.

“The first three annual banding results have shown schools making wild shifts between bands, confusing and misleading parents so it is little surprise the policy was taken back to the drawing board.”

Plaid Cymru’s education spokesman Simon Thomas said: “The Government proposes an over-complex system of grading for primary schools, banding for secondary schools and yet another national categorisation system driven by the regional consortia.

“It’s hard to believe two different systems, the national categorisation system and primary and secondary school banding, with three different sets of criteria, will bring the clarity, focus and strong leadership that Welsh education needs.”…

More at: Questions raised over new ‘grading’ scheme for schools

What do you think of the new colour-coding system and the proposal to extend the approach to primary schools in Wales? Good idea to help raise standards in Wales or a missed opportunity? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…

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