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Greater emphasis needed on academic standards

A study showing that 90% of secondary schools in Redcar and Cleveland have worse than expected progress scores demonstrates the need for greater emphasis on academic standards, said local MEP Jonathan Arnott today.

The findings have emerged through new ‘Progress 8’ statistics following the 2016 GCSE results. Progress 8 is a measure of average pupil progress in attainment in eight subjects.

“It is, of course, disappointing to see that Redcar and Cleveland have scored so badly but teachers across Teesside tell me that they have to focus too much on paperwork,” said Mr Arnott, a former teacher.

“Many are working as much as 60 hours a week to make sure they get their paperwork right, but they feel the additional time spent on paperwork isn’t actually benefiting the education of the pupils they teach. Every parent wants their child to do well and so do the teachers, otherwise they would not have entered the profession, but they are under tremendous pressure in completely wrong directions.

“Government reforms keep moving the goalposts and making it harder for teachers to give their pupils the best possible education they can. The reality is that schools are terrified of what Ofsted is going to do. They concentrate on getting the paperwork immaculate to prepare for inspections, but those inspections should actually be concentrating primarily on how well pupils are progressing.”

Mr. Arnott’s comments on teacher workload echo those of the National Union of Teachers, whose ‘eight steps’ programme provides suggestions for reducing unnecessary paperwork.

“This data in the annual school performance league tables for secondary schools will serve as a wake-up call for schools deemed to have made insufficient progress. But it should also be a wake-up call for the government to make sure that they get the emphasis right in teaching standards and ensure sufficient funds are put in, particularly in working class areas.

“Teachers across Redcar and Cleveland work incredibly hard to do the best they possibly can for pupils. We should praise the work that they do, but also trust them as the professionals they are and provide them with the tools they need to get on and do the job”, said Mr Arnott.

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