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“USING DATA TO RAISE ACHIEVEMENT” SPEECH BY DAVID MILIBAND MP MINISTER OF STATE FOR SCHOOL STANDARDS AT A CONFERENCE OF THE EDUCATION NETWORK LONDON, 11 FEBRUARY 2004 This is an important time for the education system in England. International studies show improvement; domestic reports by Ofsted show signs for optimism; but some question whether improvement in primary schools has reached a „plateau‟, and whether secondary schools can overcome the old English problems of class and socio-economic disadvantage. I want to argue today that the changes of the last six years provide a platform for further advance; and that we will build on that platform if we take seriously the implications of the increasingly rich data the presents itself on every student, school, class and LEA in England. The Platform for Progress It is worth reminding ourselves of the platform on which we can build: - more teachers than since 1984: 25,000 more than six years ago, and over 90,000 more support staff - ICT transforming teaching and learning in primary and secondary schools - national strategies at KS2 and KS3 that command the confidence of fair-minded people as the best of professional practice - more than half of the schools in the country designated as specialist - investment in infrastructure that in 2005/6 will top £5bn a year - and an increasing culture of rigorous partnership, embodied in the Workforce Agreement of every teacher and staff member, the Compacts for every LEA and the cooperation in EiC and LEPP. These ingredients of success are reflected in the test and exam results. Third best in the world at age 10; improvements in every subject and every level at KS3; GCSE and A level performance rising steadily, reflecting the facts of better teaching and harder work, not the English curse that “more will mean worse”. But the success notwithstanding, the data commands that we are humble about underperformance, as well as proud of achievement: - a quarter of 11 year-olds leaving primary school still struggling to read, write and count well - within school variation more than four times between school variation at secondary level - 75% of middle class youngsters getting 5 good GCSEs, 25% from working class backgrounds - in schools with the worst record for value-added, roughly one lesson in five is wasted. In other words, a pupil could lose a year‟s progress between the ages of 11 and 16. So the data demands that all of us engage seriously with the needs of youngsters born equal but educated unequally. It is a challenge to raise quality and equality in our education system. It speaks to moral purpose as well as to practical policy. And it demands action at every level in the system. The Power of Data My starting point is simple. The job of Government is to seek for every pupil what any parent would seek for their child. RH Tawney said that seventy years ago, and it is no less true for the genome generation than for those born between the wars. Wanting the best for your child means wanting an education that meets their needs, nurtures their talents, broadens their horizons and develops their humanity. It is what the Prime Minister calls „personalised learning‟, and forms the judge and jury of education policy in the DfES. Personalised learning does not mean every child learning on their own; it is not a return to child centred theories; it is instead a determination to put high expectations at the heart of our strategy, and determine to put together the education to fulfil them. It starts with data: the strengths and weaknesses of every child, in every class. It extends to every teacher: their performance management, their professional development. It reaches every school: how it is doing, where it is trying to do better, where it needs support. And it demands action from LEAs and DfES: a synchronised engagement between public bodies and the schools they serve. Let me address each of these points in turn. Assessment for Learning For every child, data is the foundation of progress. It is the essence of Assessment for Learning (AfL): ongoing assessment to diagnose strengths and weaknesses, stretching every sinew to deliver them their entitlement to an education that develops them to the full. AfL lies at the very heart of good teaching and learning. Assessments, along with our system of national testing, are not pass or fail evaluations. They provide a measure of a child‟s progress, giving parents and schools a reliable picture of how much children have learnt and understood. This information also helps teachers and parents compare children of the same age, against national standards. Successful AfL practice gets straight to the heart of good teaching, by helping teachers identify the next steps in their pupils‟ learning; engaging pupils themselves in the process. Research shows that AfL improves pupil motivation, helping them to develop as independent, proactive learners. National tests also provide a consistent external benchmark against which teachers can validate their professional judgement. A vital indicator of educational success, when the vigour brought by national testing is lost, the evidence from the history of the English education system is that pupils in the poorest communities suffer most. We know the danger of low expectations. National achievement standards must be the ladder of opportunity for all students, irrespective of class or background. Performance Management and Professional Development For every teacher, the progress of pupils is the purpose of their vocation. They have a right to performance management and professional development on the basis of that data. The starting point for me is the high degree of variation in achievement within schools; in all the debate about choice between schools this tends to get lost, but it is the key to success for hundreds of thousands of pupils. That is where performance management and CPD are critical. We shall only reap the rewards, in terms of raised standards of pupil attainment, if we get performance management right. To make it work, we need heads who themselves - as leaders of the profession - embody the openness, and willingness to challenge with a firm commitment to reflection and professional development, that inspires public confidence. It is heads who will be the architects in their school of a successful performance management system for teachers, and the guarantors of that system. For the performance management system to be successful, there must be effective monitoring, observation and review. There must be challenge, rigour and hard evidence. For example, classroom observation: both observing and being observed – with the right degree of preparation, support and follow up – is something that can benefit every classroom teacher. That is how teachers‟ strengths can be documented and areas for development properly understood and acted upon. I know that some teachers embrace this approach very readily. They see that performance management can help them become even better teachers and keep them up-to-date on classroom practice. They see it as a right because without it they would not have their development needs appreciated; and, as a result, would be letting down their pupils. Overall, performance management is an approach where teachers‟ understanding of pupil progress is informed by rich sources of data on pupil performance. Where everyone in the school is homing in on why particular pupils are doing well or are doing not so well; and on how this information can be used to tackle the severe problem of in-school variation. School Profile For schools, data should present a rounded and searching picture of collective achievement. That is the purpose of the School Profile. I recognise that raw test and exam scores, and even value-added scores which represent a big step forward, are a proxy for school performance, and can miss out important aspects of what a school does. But the answer to the limitations of raw and value- added data is not to restrict their flow, but instead to enrich the debate about what the data means. That is why development of School Profiles is so important. Replacing the annual statutory report to parents, the School Profile would contain standardised comparative performance data – about a school and its students - to supplement the data contained in performance tables, and the school‟s own view of its priorities and performance. It will be light on bureaucracy, easy to access and powerful in impact; placing new and challenging information in the public domain. We want to see the Profile become an important part of educational discussion in the home and the school, as well as in Whitehall; and, in the next month or so, will begin consulting on the contents and compilation – as it is vital to get these right. By September 2005, we want schools to have a short and accessible document setting out – what we currently see as - the following information: - data on students‟ attainment and progress, set against benchmarks for schools in similar contexts - how the school serves all its students, not just the average student - the most recent assessment by Ofsted, set against the school‟s own self-assessment - what the school offers, in terms of the broader curriculum - how the head and governors see the priorities for future improvement - what the schools offers the rest of the system Single Conversation So much for data in schools. Data also makes the system go round. Our responsibility is to make it go round in a way that raises standards, rather than confuses or distracts teachers and school leaders. Schools are right to complain that too much data collection is duplicative and / or bureaucratic; and they are right to say that multiple accountability mechanisms and delivery partners can distract them from the core business of teaching. The truth is that schools are all at different stages in the improvement cycle. As LEAs or the Department we need to recognise that difference, and respond to it. Just as personalised learning is vital to youngsters, so differentiated and appropriate support is necessary for schools. The foundation is agreed data; the key is synchronised engagement from LEAs and the Department. We need to ensure that the DfES and LEAs adhere to this new relationship – based on partnership and trust – to actively identify LEAs‟ own key delivery priorities; drive forward improvement in schools; and achieve system-wide change. To refine the model, we intend to develop with five or more LEAs the concept of a „single conversation‟ - as an extension of this new relationship. A key feature will be to appoint an experienced practitioner, in each secondary school, to act as a critical friend; authorised to approve – on behalf of the LEA and DfES – the performance targets set by the Head and governing body. They would also be available to debate and offer advice on priorities; and, where necessary, assist with implementation support. None of this will be simple or easy to accomplish either for the Department or for LEAs. It will be important that these proposals are developed in close discussion with national and local partners, particularly at headteacher and LEA level; and ideas tested before being implemented more widely. The purpose of this single conversation is to integrate DfES and LEA support for secondary schools – drawing on the proven expertise of those in the field. As part of the process, DfES and LEA school improvement programmes could be re-engineered to dovetail with this new arrangement; reducing the multiple accountabilities and reporting requirements that too many schools face. Performance Data Framework for LEAs But, above all, the most valuable currency in school improvement, is the effective use of data; supporting schools in setting clear targets – against national targets – and based on rigorous self-evaluation and local needs. Good analyses – delivered by LEAs to a standard framework – will help schools to improve standards. Many LEAs already provide such information and there is much good practice but, overall, quality does vary. The Performance Data Framework for LEAs launched today, sets out the principles and good practice which LEAs are recommended to follow to ensure that all schools receive a comprehensive range of quality performance data. The framework does not specify the actual data which should be provided to schools; this is left to LEAs to determine locally. But it does set out the minimum standard that schools can expect in terms of performance analysis. And will encourage those schools that have not previously used their LEAs‟ analyses to make more use of the data. The Data Protocol This reciprocal process of data sharing needs to be information- rich and workload-light. The Data Protocol, also announced today, enables us to establish a system where data are collected just once - in a manner that involves much less bureaucracy - and used many times. New Common Basic Data Sets will give schools the information they need, without the onus of duplicate items. The data other people want will be moved easily from schools to a data warehouse or warehouses. LEAs, the partners to the Protocol and others will get the data they want direct from the warehouses, without having to ask schools. There will be regulation of new data requests and regular reviews of the data schools collect on behalf of others. Our aim is that this new system should be fully implemented by 2006. Conclusion I wanted to speak at this conference because appropriate use of data, pinpointing teaching style to individual need, raising teaching quality to tackle underperformance, matters to so many youngsters. Think of this. We know that the strongest predictor of GCSE performance is achievement at 14. If every year, every KS3 teacher helped one pupil in every class move from level 4 to level 5, then by 2008 an extra 100,000 students would be reaching level 5. It is about clarity of purpose, singularity of focus, and synergy of resource. That is why it matters. We have it in our grasp to build a system true to the principles of excellence and equity. None of us can do it alone, neither teachers nor LEAs nor the DfES. But together we can make a difference. Data helps us do it. That is why this conference is important, why I look forward to your questions and comments, and why I look forward to making progress with you in the months and years ahead.
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