Coasting Schools Have Little Definition

News / May 17, 2015

One of the key areas of maths taught at school is that of statistics. Useful to know in elections although the quality behind the statistics of some polls may test our faith, but we are facing an on-going statistical phenomenon in the classification of schools.

The Minister of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, is sifting through the performance of schools to derive a hit list of schools that require attention. There are c. 23,000 primary and 6,000 secondary schools in the UK giving a total of 29,000 schools. Statistically we will have a normal distribution of achievement for these schools. This means we have spread of excellent, good, average, poor and failing schools. For the sake of augment let us assume, statistically,  we have 10 per cent excellent, 10 per cent good, 40 per cent average, 10 per cent poor and 10 per cent failing schools.

Expressed more dramatically we have 2,900 excellent schools and 2,900 good schools. In the middle are 11,600 average school, then the bombshell; we will have 5,800 schools that are poor or failing.

The problem is how to recruit 5,800 Headteachers and c. 29,000 teachers who have the capability to turn around these poor and failing schools. This does makes the crass assumption that existing teachers are beyond redemption, as any system to help improve their performance does not exist.

The issue has been in existence for decades without a solution being found. Various schemes have been launched with indifferent results; none appear to have grasped the shape and size of the problem. Thus how would you attract the excellent teaching resources needed to up sticks from where they are ensconced and take on a disaster area?

In the meantime, as if they were trying to mask, the problem the classification of schools grows ever more complex,. Apart from Independent schools that consistently make the grade, we have state schools, faith schools, academies and free schools to complicate the analysis. Then throw in failing and the new classification of “coasting schools” and the list just gets bigger and the solution ever more remote.



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