Wales politics

Secondary school performance to be revealed in Wales

Details of Wales' best and worst performing secondary schools will be made available by the end of the year.

A timetable for banding secondary schools has been revealed by the Welsh Government, as has a plan to include primary schools in the scheme.

The Welsh Government says it will not mean a return to league tables which were scrapped in Wales in 2001.

Unlike rankings in league tables, schools are expected to be placed into four or five bands.

A leaked email from a senior official in the Welsh Government's education department says provisional information using 2010 exam results will be circulated to secondary schools and local education authorities next week.

Bands based on this year's exam results will then be published in December.

The email says the government's attention will now turn to a model for primary schools. A working group has been established and a pilot project will be reviewed in late October or early November.

Named and shamed

Special schools are not being considered for inclusion in the banding system until work has finished on an assessment framework that allows pupils' progress to be measured.

Schools will be given leaflets explaining the system for pupils to take home to their parents.

The final secondary school banding information, based on this year's exam results, is due to appear on the Welsh Government's website in the week starting 12 December.

A similar approach will be adopted for primary school banding, with a timeline to be agreed during the pilot phase.

Dr Philip Dixon, director of the teaching union ATL Cymru, said banding more than 1,400 primary schools in Wales would be more difficult than publishing data on the country's 220 secondaries.

He said the union would monitor the scheme and would support it if it lived up to a promise by Education Minister Leighton Andrews that schools would not be named and shamed for poor performance.

"The same would go for primary schools in that if this means more help and support for them, then we will welcome that," he said.

"We will want to see how it works out in practice. That will be the key.

"My understanding is that it [banding] is for policy-makers so they know where to target their resources.

'Not about labelling'

"I don't think the department of education yet have quite worked out what role it wants parents to play. They need to be very clear in how parents are to see the banding system."

The Welsh Government said the education minister outlined in July the key actions for developing the banding system, with the model for secondary schools being "refined and finalised" in time for the start of the new academic year, and provisional banding information being available to schools early in the term.

Work on developing a primary school model was continuing.

"It is important to note that banding is not about labelling schools, naming and shaming or creating a divisive league table," said a spokeswoman.

"It will use a range of information to group schools into broad bands for the purposes of prioritising action and ensuring we identify and share the good practice we have in Wales more effectively."

However, parents needed access to data and information on schools "and the Welsh Government will provide it".

NUT Wales secretary David Evans called for Mr Andrews to rethink his plans.

"The education minister has been at great pains to state that this banding approach is not a return to league tables," he said.

"However, when you rank schools based on performance it is difficult to see how that is not the case."

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