Annal Nayyar : Schools should put their financial information online according to the government’s proposals

Information on how secondary schools manage their budgets should be put in the public domain, the government has proposed.

Launching a consultation today on changes to accountability arrangements for schools, the Department of Education said a School Performance Data Portal should be created, to go live in 2015. It would bring together a range of information on all aspects of school performance into one accessible website.

Publishing information on schools’ financial plans could help to spread best practice across the sector and encourage good governance, the consultation added.

‘A governor might look at how a particularly effective school is using its budget in order to learn efficiency lessons,’ it said.

Parents would also be able to use the portal to determine how well individual schools taught specific subjects, such as history or physics.

The main focus of the consultation is on measuring and comparing pupil performance. It suggests a move away from the current measure of the percentage of pupils scoring grades A*–C in at least five subjects, including English and maths, to an ‘average point score eight’ model. This would assess eight subjects based on what are seen as ‘English Baccalaureate’ core subjects. Pupils have to take English and maths, one science, one humanities and one language plus three others, from a choice of high value arts, academic or vocational qualifications. Schools would be measured on their pupils’ progress across these eight subjects.

The Association of School and College Leaders said the consultation marked the beginning of an ‘important discussion’ about accountability in education.

‘It is absolutely right that schools and colleges should be held accountable for how they spend public money and the quality of education they provide, and there needs to be an intelligent framework in place to do this,’ said general secretary Brian Lightman.

But he warned that this would be a difficult job and had to be got right, particularly as the changes were taking place alongside wider reforms to the curriculum and qualifications.

The accountability consultation was published as Education Secretary Michael Gove announced that he was ditching plans to replace the GCSE qualification with the English Baccalaureate Certificate. He told the House of Commons this morning that he was also abandoning proposals to have just one exam board offering each exam. Gove called the idea ‘a bridge too far’.

Instead, GCSEs will be reformed to be more linear, with all assessments taking place at the end of the course rather than in modular tests along the way.

The accountability consultation runs until May 1.


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