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Church schools and the disaggregation of statistics

by
07 February 2012

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From the Revd David Green

Sir, — I was interested to read Pro­fessor John Howson’s article (Edu­cation, 3 February) concerning the changing landscape for church schools, especially primaries.

While Professor Howson high­lights the fact that some C of E schools did not reach the 70-per-cent target for pupils obtaining the ex­pect­ed levels at Key Stage 2 in English and maths, he fails to high­light the problems caused by the Department for Education’s (DfE’s) reluctance to disaggregate data.

In a rural church school known to me, the combination of single-form entry (where each pupil makes a significant difference to overall per­centage) with a Speech and Lan­guage Unit for children who have particular needs means that it is difficult, if not impossible, to hit the targets set by the DfE.

This would not be a problem if the DfE would consider the data in a more nuanced way than it does. If the children’s data is disaggregated, the school sails through the marks set by the DfE. The DfE seems un­willing to do that, however; and I consider that most unfair.

When the school is recognised widely as good (not least by OFSTED, who also saw “good” capacity to improve), and you drill down into the figures and see significant achievement, it is frustrating to be labelled as either “coasting” or, worse, “failing”.

I can imagine that this situation is not unique, especially in situations where specialist facilities for those children who need extra help are being provided. I would encourage Professor Howson not to be fooled, and not to judge church schools by a single stat line. Moreover, I would encourage all in similar situations to lobby their local MP and local authority to try to get Michael Gove and the DfE to adopt a more realistic approach, where data are disaggre­gated in order to provide a more nuanced and accurate assessment of our schools.

DAVID GREEN
The Vicarage, High Street
West Malling ME19 6NE

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