Clause 20

Part of Children, Schools and Families Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 1:30 pm ar 4 Chwefror 2010.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Minister of State (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Schools and Learners) 1:30, 4 Chwefror 2010

We have had an interesting, short debate.

As the hon. Member for Yeovil knows, there is a two-year pilot on the report card, which started in September 2009, so it is not the finished article. There is a lot of work to be done on how we take it forward, but if we manage to get the report card right, it will be a fundamental and radical reform that will answer the demand of schools up and down the country, which is, “Do not let our school be judged on just the raw attainment scores.” The hon. Gentleman was at a conference with me earlier today at which that plea was also heard. Doing that is a real challenge, however, because as we all know, people will often look at just that raw attainment score.

As I have often said in Committee, the Government believe that we need to move on from that, and the fact that that is difficult and a challenge should not stop people. We all have experience of schools and, as someone who has taught, I know that people have said over a considerable period that schools should be judged not only on their raw attainment scores, but on the progress that they make with their pupils. The pupil progress part is about trying to do that. For the first time, we are laying out specifically in a report that goes to every parent something that will allow them to make a judgment about that.

Similarly, on pupil well-being—I will be brief, Mrs. Anderson—what is it that parents often say when they go into the school? Of course they are interested in the academic standards in the school, but when I was teaching—I am sure my hon. Friend the Member for Stourbridge and others have experienced this—people would ask what the school was like with respect to bullying. They would also ask, “Are people happy? Do they enjoy themselves? Are they looked after?” The hon. Member for Mid-Dorset and North Poole must agree that that should be part of the whole picture, because everything for which she has ever campaigned in Parliament has been about trying to ensure that the rights, voice and happiness of the child are not seen as some glib accessory that is unimportant. Those things are a fundamental part of any judgment about how well an institution is doing. It is difficult but important to include those things. Similarly, even the hon. Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton thinks that parental perception is a good idea.

The big issue that we are all united about is narrowing the gap in pupil performance. How do we narrow the gap between social background and educational attainment? I agree with the point made by both hon. Gentlemen—it is difficult. However, if we were to accept the amendments, we would not have the primary legislation available to bring together the information that is required to try to come to a determination about the grade. Exactly how that is done is part of what the pilots are about. Some 700 schools throughout the country are looking to see how the information is gathered. If we were to pass the amendments, they would not be able to do that, and that would completely preclude any attempt to try to introduce the report card.