We have now exchanged half a dozen articles, centring on data and accountability. We hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as we have enjoyed writing them. However, we felt it was time to pause and revisit one of the initial aims of the Shifted series: can we actually agree on anything and have our views shifted in any way?
Looking firstly at the context of our articles and secondly from our conversations in other forums, we’ve decided we can both sign up to the following statements:
- Schools need to assess the learning of their pupils and it’s legitimate that this data is used to hold each school to account.
- Data should be a mix of quantitative and qualitative measures.
- Schools’ success needs to be measured by academic achievement, but it needs to be more than this and some things can’t be measured.
- Used effectively, analysis of assessment can be employed to target resources to those most in need.
- Some schools are failing their pupils and data is one of the ways we can uncover this.
- An obsessive focus on metrics can have damaging consequences – data should support learning not vice versa.
- There are too many incidents at the moment of school’s gaming data at the expense of learning. Poorly designed accountability frameworks encourage this.
- There is a tension between innovation and accountability – especially when regulators imply pedagogical preferences.
- PISA is a useful, but limited tool in assessing the success of an education system.
- All sides of the debate are genuine in wanting children to learn and develop.
- It’s easy to dismiss the ideas of those you disagree with and be cynical about their views. This isn’t helpful.
- Maintaining dialogue, especially with people you don’t often agree with, is an objective all those involved in education should aim for.
- We should be open to changing our minds after hearing other perspectives.
- Research evidence, and not just those that agree with our position, should be used to drive education policy. This evidence should come from a variety of research traditions.
- We need to find solutions that recognise the complexity of education. Policy-makers have been too quick to go for simple, even simplistic, short-term solutions because they’re easier to explain and implement. However, those who critique those solutions need to offer achievable alternatives.
- We should be aiming for an education system which would see all schools having autonomy over pedagogy, professional development and budgets.
- The best school systems are comprehensive and give all children access to an all-round high-quality education.
We’d be very interested to hear your thoughts, both on the list and the process so far. Normal service will resume in the next article!
Graham and Sam