Report from Demos: Detoxifying school accountability

A report from Demos, published today. From Executive Summary:

This report strongly argues that the current model of accountability is profoundly toxic and is failing to achieve its stated goal of improving education. It sets out an alternative
regime, which would allow all children to achieve their potential, while ensuring the quality of education in schools is of a high standard. […]

Recommendation 1 Standards without standardisation
The first proposal calls on the government to promote student choice by ceasing to define what qualifications young people should acquire. A suggested method is as follows:

  • Policymakers would continue to decide the breadth and scope of what is taught in schools to children up to the age of 14 (or even beyond) by coordinating the design of the National Curriculum.
  • Qualification providers would be freed up to design different ways of testing knowledge in National Curriculum subjects, with the leeway to offer learners a range of avenues through which to display their knowledge and skills.
  • Each of these tests would have within them a section that assessed the levels of student ability to use numbers,comprehend what they are reading and deploy language, so that schools’ effectiveness at ensuring children and young people have these fundamental skills continues to be transparent.
  • Ofqual would no longer ensure all qualifications measure the same thing in the same way, instead specifying how these qualifications are different from each other and ensuring that there was some measure of comparability between qualifications.
  • Parents, teachers and children would be free to decide which areas of the National Curriculum individual students were to be tested on at the end of Key Stage 2 (when they are 10–11), and which tests are going to be used for this purpose. This would enable children to follow their particular interests, while enjoying a broad curriculum and displaying their knowledge in ways that reflect their preferred ways of learning.
  • At Key Stage 4 (when they are 15–16), students would be free to build the qualification portfolios they consider will most powerfully display their talents to further and higher education institutions, or potential employers, without having to worry about whether they are making choices that will contribute to their school’s rankings in league tables.

[…]  Read the full report.

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