Accountability: Low-level gaming is ‘rife’ and teaching to the test ‘endemic’

Former number 10 policy advisor Julian Astle says the costs of the government’s ‘constantly shifting’ accountability system now outweigh any benefits. Pete Henshaw reports

Narrowing of the curriculum, teaching to the test, and gaming the system – the educational costs of the government’s school accountability system are now outweighing the benefits.

This is the view of former Number 10 policy advisor Julian Astle, who has authored an in-depth essay based on his experiences touring the country looking for schools that are bucking these trends.

Published last week, The Ideal School Exhibition acknowledges the role that accountability has played in the last 25 years, notably in raising the basic standards of numeracy and literacy.

However, Mr Astle says that a growing “desperation” to meet the demands of the government’s accountability system is leading schools to take decisions that are “not in the long-term interests of pupils but are likely have a positive immediate impact on test scores”.

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