Ditch school banding, says NUT Cymru

Image caption Schools have been placed within one of five bands within the new system in Wales

The teaching union NUT Cymru has repeated its call on the Welsh government to scrap its controversial new school banding system.

BBC Wales has revealed the exact scores for every high school after a breakdown was released by the government.

Since December, schools have been placed within one of five bands according to different measures.

The government said ministers would not be rethinking the system and it was at the heart of improving schools.

Information published by BBC Wales showed Ysgol Tryfan in Bangor, Gwynedd, recorded the highest mark in each of the 12 categories which make up the banding system.

The latest banding data was released following a request from the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act.

It gives parents further detail on the position of their children's school within the system.

NUT Cymru secretary David Evans reiterated the union's call to ditch banding.

"The NUT continues to vehemently oppose all school bandings in Wales fearing they will lead to a cycle of decline in Welsh schools for which there could be no escape," he said.

'Great unanswered question'

"Hopefully, for the sake of pupils across Wales, the government will reconsider its approach."

During a plenary session in the Senedd on Wednesday, Education Minister Leighton Andrews resisted calls from politicians to rethink the banding system.

Plaid Cymru education spokesman Simon Thomas AM said: "The Labour education minister has himself recognised that league tables are destructive, yet he continues to press ahead to implement them under another name."

Mr Thomas said unions were opposed and there was increasing concern that "stigma" was already beginning to take effect.

A Welsh government spokesman said: The minister has made it clear that the Welsh government will not be rethinking its school banding system.

"This was a manifesto commitment of the incoming government and it is being implemented.

"We believe that through the banding process we have introduced a constructive evaluation process which leads to targeted support to improve performance in our schools.

"It is at the heart of our school improvement agenda and will give us and parents a clear picture of how secondary schools in Wales are performing."

Anna Brychan from the National Association of Head Teachers in Wales (NAHT) called the "narrow" banding measures important but potentially damaging.

"They don't describe the whole of what a school does but the perception out there will be that this tells the whole story," she told BBC Radio Wales.

"We are worried that, ultimately, this will be damaging.

"This is supposed to be about determining the level of support schools need to get better - all of them."

Dr Stevie Upton, a research officer at the Institute of Welsh Affairs, told BBC Wales: "School banding was sold as a means of determining where resources should be directed to improve our schools.

"If we get too tied up with the sort of who's better than who analysis... then the data become a type of stick to beat schools with.

"What resources are being made available to schools as a result of theses bands and how will they be deployed - I think that for me remains the great unanswered question."

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