Feb 1, 2019

Headteacher's Blog

Posted by: rbramley

Dear Parents, Carers and Friends

I was asked by Karen Darley at the Gazette and Herald for a comment about the recently published school performance tables.   I wrote quite a bit and, understandably, only a small section made into the article as Karen had to squeeze in comments from all four local secondary schools.   Seems a shame to waste it so here is the full piece I wrote.


I don’t like performance tables, even when we do well in them.  Can you imagine what it would be like to have performance tables for families? Would they measure the educational attainment  of your children as the most important factor in deciding whether you were a good or outstanding parent, or whether you ‘required improvement’ or even ‘special measures’?  Would your efforts be measured by how happy your children were, how well-rounded, how nice to other people, how helpful, caring or empathic to others? How resilient they were or their likely earning potential?   Bringing up children is too complicated to be measured by a few numbers and educating children in schools is the same.  The human mind is far better at making judgments  than a series of statistics, which are pretty much based solely on a few hours of examinations at the end of 11 years of education.  You only have to visit the schools in this area to know we have four good secondary schools, all working hard to give their students (your children) the best start in life they can.  Yet this job is made harder as schools search for better and better ‘performance’ as measured by GCSE exam examinations.  And this search can distort what we are actually trying to do.  Schools are suckered into narrowing the curriculum to concentrate on the ‘important’ subjects (these which score most in the performance tables), restricting student choice about which subjects they study,  focussing on getting examination answers correct rather than developing a love of learning.   There is a small glimmer of hope.  The new chief HMI, Amanda Spielman, has recognised the negative effect of performance indicators have and has changed the Ofsted Inspection to pay more attention to the quality of the education students receive and less to the examination results they get, which has always been the philosophy of Lady Lumley’s school.   Educating young people, like bringing up our own children, cannot be reduced to numbers and charts and by doing so we risk damaging that most important group of people, our children.

Richard Bramley