Today was the first day of the Education Bill committee stage. To celebrate the ‘coasting schools’ definition was revealed.
The definition matters because it will decide which schools could be forced to change management unless the regional schools commissioner decides they are worthy of being saved.
A detailed look at the definition is here. In essence schools will be judged on a combination of attainment AND progress measures. You would need to fail on BOTH – that is, have a very low proportion of pupils attaining certain grades AND have low levels of progress.
The measure is not as bad as some people are making out. In fact, there are some sensible parts. Jonathan Simons, over at think-tank Policy Exchange, has neatly pointed these out.
But there ARE some issues. Having spent the day listening to what teachers and school leaders said about the proposal, as well as looking at data, watching the committee debate, and having a good think, here’s what I think the main issues are.
1. The proposed coasting definition gives extra (and unnecessary) protection to schools with wealthy intakes
2. It won’t begin until at least January 2017, and it will only affect a very small number of schools
3. Regional Schools Commissioners decide if a coasting school’s improvement plan is credible enough to save it from forced academy conversion. Regional Schools Commissioners are evaluated on the number of schools they turn into academies. HMMMM.
4. Regional Schools Commissioners only have a maximum seven members of staff – and a rapidly growing workload
5. The debasement of Ofsted