Social Mobility & Social Justice

Tug 'O School Objectives - We have no pupil centred education A blog for #VQDay

Wednesday 4th June 2014

I thought VQ Day would be a good day to highlight the dichotomy caused by linking school success with Russell Group applications and use of Pupil Premium data. Schools are under constant pressure to deliver results, which in turn drives their curriculum and priorities. This post is not meant to be a detailed examination of school objectives, merely a way for me to illustrate the stressors exacted by using data to determine just how successful a school is and thus the possible effects on the child. My feeling is that there are 3 main stressors which effect our secondary school curricula.

Stressor 1 - Destination Data & Ofsted

The Government publishes destination data (1) by school and breaks down destinations of pupils not just by type of qualification but by type of institution. Here is a screen grab of my local borough's results

By highlighting progress to an elite group of universities over other institutions surely the government, by implication, is buying into the Oxbridge cachet and the 'brand' of Russell Group universities. Indeed the Guardian university league tables (2) show many non Russell Group universities gaining on their 'elite' counterparts. Should we not be judging our pupils by their desired outcomes rather than how high up the educational tree they've climbed? Is a skilled plumber any less of a success than an unemployed grad from a Russell Group uni?

Ofsted have clearly stated that Destination Data is one of the ways they will judge the effectiveness of a school's independence of careers information. However, the main drive of becoming an outstanding school is quality of data, levels, exam results etc.

Stressor 2 - Pupil Premium

Pupil Premium (3) is currently £935 for each secondary school age pupil that has been eligible for free school meals (FSM) in the previous 6 years or £1,900 per pupil for looked-after children who:

  • have been looked after for 1 day or more
  • are adopted
  • leave care under a Special Guardianship Order or a Residence Order

So, it can add up to a significant amount of money in the school budget and naturally, the government requires each school to publish a report into how it has spent the money. There is no set method but official documents insist upon reporting on the effect of:-

  • your pupil premium allocation for the current academic year
  • details of how you intend to spend your allocation
  • details of how you spent your previous academic year's allocation
  • how it made a difference to the attainment of disadvantaged pupils

Ask yourself, how do school's report their success? Exam results and university entrance. Many teachers, though not all, are confused by the needs of careers advice and have little understanding of apprenticeships and other methods of qualification. (Look at the blog I'm not a careers teacher get me out of here on the Unifrog website or the Guardian article 'Under Pressure' from 2012 for some affirmation of that statement.) Most teachers are bewildered by how to measure success in any other way apart from progression into further education. Indeed, why should a school spend time generating even more data than it already has to? Hence, most secondary schools use exam passes and destination data to demonstrate the effectiveness of the use of their Pupil Premium money.

Stressor 3 - Progress 8

Meant to ease the concentration on the 'Seedies' as I've heard them referred to, the C/D border pupils. Progress 8 concentrates on "students' progress measured across eight subjects: English; mathematics; three other English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects (sciences, computer science, geography, history and languages); and three further subjects, which can be from the range of EBacc subjects, or can beany other approved, high-value arts, academic, or vocational qualifications" So the race for 5+ A*-C now becomes the race for Progress 8, Attainment 8 and the EBacc

Stressor - Somewhere at the back of the field
The statutory duty to deliver impartial and targeted careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) in fact it goes as far as stating that "The primary consideration is the best interests of the young person."

There is no money or status attached to this stressor. No glory in the league tables. Indeed, no extra money to pay for the statutory duty which has now come school's way. The only incentive to do this well is understanding of the value of careers education to your pupils. (7) and the knowledge that apprenticeships can indeed now lead to HE (8). Is there any wonder so few schools are acknowledging VQDay?

I'd be interested to hear your views. Please feel free to comment, Tweet or Email me your views.


Destinations Data 2010/11 22nd August 2013
Guardian university league table 2015 2nd June 2014
Pupil Premium information February 2014
Unifrog Blog June 2014
Guardian Under Pressure 19th November 2012
DFE Progress 8 March 2014
Telegraph - School leavers better off training for a trade 4th June 2014
More apprentices progress to higher education Matthew Hancock announcement 4th June 2014