School accountability system must be overhauled, says NEU

The NEU has called for the school accountability system to be overhauled.

Speaking after the publication today of the Life Skills report by the Sutton Trust, NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “Today’s Sutton Trust report rightly highlights that opportunities for young people to take part in extra-curricular activities such as debating and volunteering are reducing, even though these activities help develop vital life skills.

“However, the report fails to grasp that the real reason for the loss of these activities is the high stakes accountability based on pupils’ outcomes in tests and examinations which is narrowing the curriculum and the opportunities available to children and young people, and which teachers and school leaders have long been warning is a serious problem.

“Increasingly children and young people are expected to attend extra tutoring or exam cramming sessions in their lunch breaks, after school, on Saturdays and in the school holidays to ensure they achieve the grades required by the government’s imposed league table targets. It is hardly surprising then that fewer children can make the most of the extra-curricular opportunities schools offer.

“The school accountability system needs to be radically overhauled so that schools can offer a rich, broad and exciting set of opportunities for all their young people both within the curriculum and in extra-curricular activities. In the current high-stakes system it is young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who are most likely to lose out.

“The government needs to take note of this report, reflect on where its education policies are going wrong, and take action to address these systemic problems.”

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