David Laws Speech on Education Reform

“I think we all know the problems with the existing 5 A*-C including English and Maths threshold. Many schools are allowed to coast, safe in the knowledge that they will cross the line in any case. In other schools, too much pressure is placed on a handful of teachers, teaching a handful of children, while the rest can be given less attention. The system all but guarantees us a 40-50% system, since schools only have to get a small number of extra children over the threshold.

Once more, if I am honest, I do not understand how anyone could ever have thought that this was a sensible method by which to judge our schools.

We propose instead to judge schools by two yardsticks. The first is a C grade threshold in English and Maths. The reality is that both further education and employers do place a unique value on these qualifications. It is right and proper that schools should do all they can to get as many children over this line as possible. And there are schools up and down the country who achieve amazing results on this measure. The head of Bishop Rawstorne school in Lancashire gave a seminar in the department recently. 81% of his pupils get at least a C in both subjects. It can be done, and, bluntly, it must be done.

The second yardstick is the average progress pupils make in 8 subjects. These 8 must include English and Maths, any three EBACC subjects, and any 3 other subjects. This last group can be traditional academic subjects, or creative subjects, or vocational subjects. This yardstick rewards those schools that get a pupil who is genuinely struggling up from 5Es to 7Ds. It rewards those schools that get bright pupils up from 7Bs to 8A*s. In fact, we think it rewards all schools for teaching all pupils well.”

David Laws’ Speech on Education Proposals

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