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Don’t judge schools by SATS data alone, says NAHT

Today (4 July 2017) the results of the Key Stage 2 SATs tests are published. Commenting, Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT outlined the limitations of SATs data.

“Currently, the methods to hold schools to account aren’t as fair or as reliable as they should be. SATs data only gives parents part of the picture when judging a pupil’s success or a school’s effectiveness. League tables are the least helpful way of knowing if a school is the right place for your child.

“At the moment, parents and schools know that these results have to be taken with a pinch of salt. This can’t be right. Just looking at data misses the majority of the real work that schools do to help young people achieve their full potential.”

Mr Hobby continued: “Schools do need to be held to account but inspectors should look at more than just data. That way, when parents are reading Ofsted reports they can have more confidence that the report properly reflects how good the school actually is.

“We are seeing the signs of a more balanced approach to the use of data by Ofsted, as expressed in a recent speech by Amanda Spielman, the Chief Inspector, in which she said: ‘Rather than just intensifying the focus on data, Ofsted inspections must explore what is behind the data, asking how results have been achieved.’

James Bowen, Director of NAHT Edge added: “Too much significance is still being attached to data in judging school effectiveness. We need to remember that these results simply reflect how a small proportion of a school’s pupils performed in a one-off 45 minute test. They are at best a tiny snapshot of a very specific area of a child’s development.

“Mechanisms such as floor and coasting standards afford too much weight to the data and assume conclusions about how a school is performing can be drawn without even stepping foot in the building. These should be scrapped.

“We need to get to the stage where this data is seen for what it us: one small part of a much bigger picture. NAHT’s suggestion is that Ofsted continues with its ambition to make their judgements less reliant on data. We need to see Regional School Commissioners follow this approach too.”

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