Commenting on the report by Ofsted into the most academically able pupils, Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
‘Ofsted’s evidence to support their claims of schools failing the most academically able is wrong. KS2 tests results were not designed as a predictor for GCSEs and many secondary schools re-test pupils in year 7 to take into account cognitive skills.
‘Nick Gibb, former Schools Minister, stated earlier this week that the pass rate for GCSEs A – A* had gone up from 8% to 20% and that this was unsustainable. Neither the Government nor Ofsted can have it both ways. Either schools are improving examination results for all pupils or they are not and the figures clearly show that they are doing so for pupils, including the most academically bright. We also saw from last year’s GCSE English marking fiasco that as soon as schools achieve outstanding results for pupils’ calls of grade inflation are made. The new approach by Ofqual effectively means that there will be a cap on the pass rate. This will certainly affect the grades available to students.
‘There is certainly a need for barriers experienced by pupils and their families, which may affect attitudes to education, to be removed. This does not mean however that the responsibility for young people not moving on to higher education falls only on parents and schools. The reduction in the Education Maintenance Allowance and the huge increase in tuition fees have resulted in many young peoples’ aspirations to continue in education being totally eroded. This is an issue that desperately needs to be addressed.
‘Cuts to schools’ careers services and lack of specialist careers teachers are an area which should certainly be looked at to ensure that pupils are given the best possible information about choices that are open to them and the qualifications required.
‘While schools are never complacent it has to be remembered that Ofsted’s own Annual Report found that 70% of all schools are now good or better. Ofsted has a role to support schools and ensure they are sharing best practice in schools. This report does neither.
‘For schools to help and encourage all pupils to reach their full potential we need a curriculum which engages students and is relevant to all the career paths available to young people in the modern workplace’.
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