Headteacher questions drive for data

Sam Murray with two of his trophies.
Sam Murray with two of his trophies.

A SCHOOL’S speech day was a chance to celebrate pupils’ achievements and for the headteacher to criticise Ofsted and their over-reliance on data.

Before inviting the Right Reverend Frank Bishop, assistant Bishop of Newcastle, to present the school prizes, Lynne Brookes of St Mary’s C of E Middle School in Belford railed against the sort of pressure and interference that is brought to bear on teachers throughout the country.

She said: “We, like all schools, have come under increasing pressure to improve our performance indicators, our league table position, our data on selected groups of pupils, girls’ attainment versus boys’ attainment, reading data versus writing data, etc.

“Ofsted like data – using data is an easy and computer-friendly way of evaluating and judging schools – but I think that all of us professionally involved in education need to ask ourselves if it is enough of an answer.

“Does our league table position tell you whether our curriculum is worthwhile and relevant? Does our data tell you whether our children are happy and thriving, developing personally as well as educationally?

“Do our banks of data tell you whether our children have the values which will help them to lead fulfilling lives as the citizens of the future?

“Well, I hope Ofsted will be pleased with us, because we have improved our data.

“Our Sats results rose across the board, and our Year 6 in particular have done extremely well in their exams, for which we must give them all credit.”

Meanwhile, the star pupil on the day was Sam Murray, who took home four prizes – in English, German and two for music.

The prize–winners: Nesbitt Cup for Drama – Callum Rae; Science Prize – William Norwood; German Prize; English Prize (shared), Music Prize, Gassner Cup for Musician of the Year – Sam Murray; Technology Prize – Tom Opelt; ICT Prize and English Prize (shared) – Fynn Riseborough; Ratliff Cup for School Council – Chloe Wightman; Choir Shield – Rebecca Johnston and Ella Paul; Ratliff Hands–on Scroll for Best Practical Contribution – Andrew Wood; Birdsall Salver for Best Contribution to School Life – Ruben Moss; Garnham Trophy for Best Contribution to Sport – Josh Briggs and Arron McCalvey.