‘Bonkers’ banding system is scrapped


The controversial school banding system in Wales, which has been described by one teaching union as “bonkers”, has been scrapped by ministers.

From next January every school in Wales will instead be placed into one of four groups as part of a new national categorisation system, which is colour-coded and aims to provide more bespoke support to those struggling near the bottom of the pile.

Schools will be grouped according to their available data – stretching back three years – and a new self-evaluation process.

The new system would only allow schools to climb the standards ladder if outcomes improve and officials are satisfied with the positive strides being made.

Officials are not expecting the wild variations that saw some schools in Wales drop as many as four “bands” at a time.

Announcing the change, education minister Huw Lewis said the Welsh government had “listened to the feedback received since the introduction of banding” three years ago.

Dr Philip Dixon, director of ATL Cymru, said: “We are glad that the bonkers banding system has bitten the dust. 

“It was quite clear that its crude labelling and laughable yo-yo effect had rendered banding unfit for purpose. A recent OECD report had singled it for particular criticism.

“The new categorisation system is more subtle and therefore more useful. It uses a complex matrix of data and judgement and, crucially, allows the voice of the profession to be heard. We will now need to see how it works out in practice.”

Robin Hughes, secretary of headteachers’ union ASCL Cymru, stated: “Accountability is important and necessary. There is a lot of public money involved, as well as the hopes of parents and young people. But poor accountability helps no-one.

“This new system has benefited from lengthy discussions and will take account of more of the things that matter. It has real promise. Implementing the model will need care and we will be looking closely at lessons learnt along the way.”

Dr Chris Howard, acting director of headteachers’ union NAHT Cymru, also welcomed the change.

“This new made-in-Wales system is more intelligent because it balances data against a more rounded and evidenced judgement based largely on the quality of teaching and leadership,” he said.



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