Wales

Q&A: Welsh government's school banding to be revealed

Image caption The Welsh government says it has not reintroduced league tables

As the Welsh government unveils its new method of grading schools, BBC Wales education correspondent Ciaran Jenkins explains how it will work.

WHAT IS IT?

All secondary schools in Wales have been placed in a banding group of between one and five.

This is the Welsh government's assessment of a school's performance in the academic year 2010-11, with Band 1 being the best and Band 5 the worst.

It says the aim of the system is to identify schools in need of support and also other schools from which they can learn.

It says it has not reintroduced league tables, which were abolished in Wales in 2001.

The system has been widely criticised by teaching unions.

WHAT IS BEING ASSESSED?

The banding works by assessing school performance within four broad categories to produce an overall score:

- the percentage of pupils achieving five A* to Cs at GCSE including English or Welsh and mathematics*

- the best eight GCSEs of pupils

- the performance of pupils at GCSE in English or Welsh and mathematics

- attendance

Within each category, a school's score is modified to take into account the percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals. This allows for the challenges of running a school in a deprived area.

Most of the categories also take into account a school's progress over time, to reward schools that are making improvements in performance.

This means that within the four broad categories, schools are scored on 11 separate measures in total.

HOW DO SCHOOLS GET AN OVERALL SCORE?

For each of the 11 measures, every school in Wales is listed based on score from top to bottom.

Schools in the top quarter receive one point, the second quarter two points, the third quarter three points and fourth quarter four points.

This means, the lower a school's score the better it is.

Each school's points are added up to create an overall score for each school.

The best possible overall score a school can achieve is 11, this would mean it is in the top 25% on all 11 measures.

The worst possible overall score a school can achieve is 44, this would mean it is in the bottom 25% on all 11 measures.

HOW THE SCORES ARE USED TO CREATE BANDS

Government officials have simply divided the range of scores by five to produce the boundaries for each of the five bands.

Band 1 is from 11 to 17.6

Band 2 is up to 24.2

Band 3 is up to 30.8

Band 4 is up to 37.4

Band 5 is up to 44

In order to avoid the accusation that it is ranking schools, the Welsh government will not publish each school's individual score, but only the band in which it falls.

It means a school at the top of Band 5 will still face the stigma of being in the bottom band, even though in reality its performance may be nearer to that of Band 4 schools.

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