EDIT – March 2014
Following today’s release of the 16-19 Accountability & Assessment plans, I though I would add an update to this post. The plans make it clear that Destination Measures will be one of the Accountability measures used in the 16-19 performance tables. Concerns about the robustness of the data are mentioned again (page 10) but the document contains a clear commitment to improve the validity of these statistics and incorporate them into the range of measures used by the DfE, Ofsted and (it is hoped) students and parents to assess the quality of provision. With such a commitment to secure it seems, to my mind, only a matter of time before Destination Measures will be incorporated into the secondary performance suite.
The Dfe recently published (October 2013) their long-awaited response to a consultation on changes to school accountability measures due to apply from the 2016 results season.
There has been a deep and general consensus across education that the current headline figure of a pass percentage for 5A*-C at GCSE (or equivalents) is a blunt tool of measurement that encouraged schools to streamline their curriculum or overweigh it with equivalent qualifications, focus on the attainment of a narrow band of students at the C/D borderline and could be ‘gamed’ to such an extent that it did not accurately reflect a school’s performance.
The reaction to the new proposals to include a Progress across 8 subjects measure, an Achievement across 8 subjects measure, the percentage passing English and Maths and the percentage passing the Ebacc suite of subjects has been extremely positive, even from those at the coal face of school leadership.
There is a paragraph in the document though that should give CEIAG leads in school a moment’s pause.
“We would also like to include a destination measure as a fifth headline indicator. This will show the percentage of pupils who went on to sustained education, employment or training during the year after they finished their Key stage 4 qualifications. We currently publish experimental statistics to show this information. We want to be sure the statistics are robust before committing to using this destination measure as a headline indicator.”
Only a few days later news broke that many Councils are failing in their duty to track 16-18 participation status, making it clear why the Dfe fears the current experimental statistics are not “robust” enough to be included as part of the headline suite of data about a school.
The tortured tale of CEIAG in schools over recent months has finally reached a juncture in the story where Ofsted are offering judgement on a school’s attempts to meet their Statutory Duty as part of their regular inspections. The consistency and worth of these judgments will be determined in time but it is, at least, happening. Many in the CEIAG field are awaiting the publication of the further guidance promised after the critical Ofsted survey yet, perhaps it may be the inclusion (or not) of destination data in these new accountability measures that will have a greater impact on school leaders consideration of CEIAG in their planning. Guidance is, after all, only guidance and, if one thing is clear from this administration’s approach to education policy, it’s that the mantra of freedom rules.
The consultation reply also states that, as well as being published on the dedicated league table website (hopefully in greater detail), these headline destination figures will be placed
On each school’s website, we will make sure there is a ‘snapshot’ of their performance in a standard format, so parents can quickly understand a school’s effectiveness.
The power this simple website addition will hold over Headteachers should not be under estimated: 5 clear figures, displayed on the front page of their school website, easily compared with other schools. Destination data has to be a one of those 5 figures for the progress we have seen to continue and for CEIAG to retain its growing importance in school leader’s minds. This rests on the actual data being collated and being “robust” enough to convince the Dfe of its worth. This is an area that those who attempt to influence CEIAG policy should be taking a keen interest in.