More and more head teachers in the UK believe that there is a widening of the inequalities in schools across the country. According to a study conducted by the Institute of Education of UCL, about two-thirds of head teachers believe this.
The study aims to evaluate the SISS or Self-improving school-led system, which the government has instituted back in 2010. The SISS aims to make more autonomous schools and to make them more accountable in terms of their own improvements. Reforms include the expansion in terms of the number of academies along with the development of MATs or Multi-Academy Trusts, the rolling back of the Local Authorities from the oversight of the schools, align with the development of a support model that is known as school-to-school.
The survey consists of 700 teachers, case studies of 47 schools, and evaluation of MATs. Results showed that overwhelmingly, schools are being more tightly regulated. These institutions are feeling the need to get their curriculum so as to achieve the necessary attainment levels.
While it is true that the government’s goals were to get schools to share their expertise and be more collaborative, the report reveals that the presence of competitive pressure in the system only led to schools being more focused on prioritising their respective interests and incentivising themselves so as to attract not only funds but new pupils as well.
While the idea of a school that is self-improving and collaborative on behalf of the pupils is indeed a very appealing one. However, people cannot just rely solely on the moral purpose and the goodwill of school leaders in order for things to work. According to expert education professional Peter Gale Headteacher, the problem really is the fact that the system is hard-wired in such a way where selfish behaviors are encouraged simply because the consequences for those schools that drop their Ofsted grade or their exam scores can be quite catastrophic. At present, what is existing is a chaotic system that is consist of losers and winners, and as a result, has resulted in the loss of equity and increasing incoherence in the process.
It has also been further revealed in the report that high performing school is accepting fewer students that are deemed as disadvantaged since 2010. This has resulted in further increasing the divide. The fact that more and more schools that are high performing are accepting less and less disadvantaged students suggest that there is an increase in school autonomy while at the same time, perpetuating inequality in the process- something that is very much cause for concern.
The research has also revealed the contradictions that are inherent in an approach where collaboration and improvement are encouraged, but also offers some very narrow definition when it comes to Ofsted grades and exam results. In practice, schools are being incentivized in order to compete and this resulted in a situation that is not really to the best interests of the students, especially those that hail from rather disadvantaged backgrounds.
However, the government has insisted that these reforms are improving the pupils’ prospects. It further stated that as a result of these reforms, along with the effort of the teachers a vast majority of pupils these days are in outstanding or good schools. Also thanks to these same reforms, schools that were not delivering before for young people are now being turned around. Learn more of the latest developments in the education by reading about Peter Gale Headteacher online.