Clause 20

Part of Children, Schools and Families Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 1:15 pm ar 4 Chwefror 2010.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools) 1:15, 4 Chwefror 2010

I listened carefully to the hon. Gentleman. I share many of his observations regarding the school report card. He is right that there are many things in here that, as he described, are “Gibbish”, although I am not sure when I became an adjective—[Interruption.] Perhaps the hon. Gentleman meant “gibberish” rather than “Gibbish”.

Parents’ perceptions are an important factor when judging a school. Leaving that aside, I share many of the hon. Gentleman’s concerns about the card. Clause 20 amends the Education Act 1996 to enable the information to be gathered for the Government’s policy of a school report card. The consultation paper said that the report card was necessary because league tables contain so much information that

“they can be difficult for parents to use, do not signal clearly the relative importance of different academic outcomes and, with the exception of the pupils’ attendance rate, do not contain information about outcomes relating to other aspects of pupils’ wellbeing.”

That is the view of the consultation document. The answer, according to the Government, is to have a school report card with an overall score.

We take the view that we should publish all the data currently held on schools, whether that is the proportion gaining five or more GCSEs, the proportion gaining eight or more GCSEs at grades A* to C, or the proportion gaining an A or B in physics GCSE. Different parents have different priorities about what they want from a school for their children, and we do not believe that it is possible to provide an overall score, which will inevitably involve a very subjective judgement.

When I looked at the example of the report card that the Minister circulated last week, I was concerned that the GCSE figures seemed to have been transformed into a bar chart setting out whether the pupil progress, or pupil attainment, was A, B, C or D. There was no mention of five GCSEs at A* to C, including English and maths, so there is a reduction in the amount of information available, not a consolidation of the data.

The school report card is not an original idea, as the hon. Member for Yeovil said. It was introduced in New York in 2007, and last year’s scores showed that 84 per cent. of the 1,058 elementary and middle schools were awarded an A rating, and 13 per cent. received a B grade. The New York Daily News said at the time—that sounds like a song from Barbra Streisand—that:

“The report card system makes a mockery of accountability. No one can be held accountable when almost everyone gets an A or B. No one can tell which schools are getting better or worse. Nor do parents get enough information to make good choices.”

We share the concerns expressed by the people of New York about the report card system as introduced in that city.

Amendment 69 would add a new source of information about a school’s performance, in addition to the views of prescribed persons, which is already provided for by clause 20. We would add details of the proportion of pupils who go on to further and higher education and the ultimate employment and training that such pupils undertake. If we want a more rounded set of data to describe the outcomes of a school, this would be far more pertinent information in so far as parents are concerned than some of the nebulous, “Gibbish” and subjective criteria set out in the White Paper and consultation document.

I wanted to keep my remarks brief so that we could get on to the home education provisions as quickly as possible, so with those few words, I await the Minister’s response.