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Question about accountability in academies please

(12 Posts)
ipadquietly Thu 04-Apr-13 18:31:50

This is quoted from the ARA for KS1 and KS2 this year:
'Where the funding agreement for an academy provides that it shall comply with guidance issued by the Secretary of State in relation to assessments and teacher assessments of children’s performance, this ARA is that guidance, and the academy must comply with it. It is an academy trust’s responsibility to ensure that, where required, the academy has fully complied with the moderation, monitoring and data submission requirements as set out in this ARA. Key Stage 1 arrangements are only applicable to those academies that provide
education to children at this stage of learning. Academies are not required to teach the National Curriculum programmes of study in English, mathematics and science but are held to account through statutory assessments on the same basis as maintained schools.'

As I understand it, my italicised section means that any academy can opt out of key stage assessments.
How then, is there going to be accountability between schools? How is Ofsted going to proceed in comparing schools? Will we have to carry on with all the ridiculous number crunching? How will vulnerable groups be accounted for? Questions.... questions...

Any people out there involved with academies (or Ofsted inspectors, even) able to give me any answers?

Movingtimes Thu 04-Apr-13 18:39:53

No, it doesn't mean academies can opt out. The funding agreement is a legal document that academies must sign in order to become academies and they have written into them the provision that they have to comply with the assessment procedures laid down by the Secretary of State. That's what the doucmuent is saying. Basically, the funding agreement is the legal document that gives the Secretary of State many of the powers over the academy that the Local Authority previously would have had. For the academy all that changes is who they report to, not what they report.

tiggytape Thu 04-Apr-13 18:40:36

From the DfE website:
"As with other academies, Free Schools will be required to comply with core requirements, including delivering Key Stage 2 tests. However, they will be free to choose how to deliver their wider broad and balanced curriculum."

Academies definitely cannot opt out of SATS

ipadquietly Thu 04-Apr-13 19:36:55

I thought I'd read that somewhere, tiggy but it's all very confusing. I notice, too, that it only says they have to deliver KS2 tests. How then, will progress be measured?

Now, on the back of the Steiner thread, does that mean that the Steiner schools will have to do KS1/2 tests, even if they don't agree with them?:

Quote from the Bristol web-site:
'We do not confuse measurements of success with success itself. Good GCSE and Key Stage test results are not the aim of a good education, they are a symptom of it. We will define our own measures of educational success; we will monitor our performance against those measures; and we will share our results.'

They also state that 'literacy will be introduced at the stage when children are ready'. It sounds to me like they won't be doing KS1 assessments.

tiggytape Thu 04-Apr-13 19:45:58

Steiner schools that are Free Schools will have to administer SATS and any other compulsory tests such as the Year 1 literacy test. They have no choice.

Steiner schools that are private schools can do whatever they like and need never do any tests at all if they don't fancy it.

The majority of Steiner Schools do not receice state funding so fall into the category of being allowed to do whatever they like.

ipadquietly Thu 04-Apr-13 20:01:11

Tiggy that quote from from the website of the Steiner free school, opening in 2014 with full government funding.

tiggytape Fri 05-Apr-13 09:17:40

ipad - if the Steiner School is a state funded free school it has to do SATS no matter what a glossy website might hint at.

Of course, if it wants to also do 'special Steiner tests' in addition to the SATS to share these results and reassure parents that literacy in Year 1 is overrated, it is quite free to do that. But it cannot opt out of compulsory testing. You'll notice it says 'we do not confuse measurements of success' not 'we don't undertake measurements of success'

Free Schools and Academies have a lot of freedoms in terms of delivering the curriculum and the curriculum themselves. However, they cannot get away from compulsory testing and Ofsted inspections - these apply to all state funded schools. The vast majority of Steiner schools are not state funded and these can continue to ignore SATS but the new Steiner Free Schools will have ot operate differently whether they want to or not.

tiggytape Fri 05-Apr-13 09:24:42

The Steiner Shcool in Hereford was one of the first state funded Steiner Schools and here is a link to their KS2 SATS results.

prh47bridge Fri 05-Apr-13 10:10:33

I disagree with your interpretation of their website. The quote sounds to me like they are saying that good SATS results are not enough on their own and that they will be measuring their success against additional criteria, not that they are opting out of SATS. Note that the quote talks about "GCSE and Key Stage test results". They clearly won't be opting out of GCSEs so I cannot see the justification for interpreting this quote as meaning they will opt out of SATS.

As Tiggytape says, their funding agreement will require them to participate in SATS whether they like it or not.

ipadquietly Fri 05-Apr-13 11:38:20

I had noticed that there was an ambiguity. However, I do question whether such statements should be open to misinterpretation! Or can it be read as future intention? smile

Movingtimes Fri 05-Apr-13 12:50:36

I don't think it is ambiguous at all. The funding agreement is a binding contract that the school makes with the DfE. There is no scope for retrospectively changing it.

ipadquietly Fri 05-Apr-13 13:45:05

Thanks for explaining everyone. I was unaware of the fact that the academies' and free schools' funding agreements state that they have to comply with national assessment procedures. smile

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