Around 30 per cent of primary schools in Wales will be exempt from being included in a banding structure designed to monitor performance. Leighton Andrews, the education minister, claims that it will prove impossible to produce a sufficient measure of performance for small primary schools. A leader of one teaching union has voiced his opposition to banding, claiming that the system was akin to school league tables.
Unlike league tables, designed to rank the best through to the worst schools, the new monitoring exercise is rumoured to group primary schools into four or five bands. The band received by a school will relate to the level of support required. Mr. Andrews claimed that schools in which there are very few pupils would be unable to be assessed using banding, as their performance would fluctuate significantly on an annual basis and could prove as extreme as 100 per cent or zero per cent in any one year, depending on the amount of pupils in the school.
Teachers' unions have voiced mixed opinions on the use of performance banding. Dr. Philip Dixon, who directs the teaching union, ATL Cymru, has claimed that the banding of more than 1,400 Welsh primary schools would prove more of a challenge than publishing figures on the performance of Wales’ 220 secondary schools. David Evans, the secretary of the NUT Wales, stated that the exclusion of small primary schools from the banding scheme effectively highlighted the difficulties in monitoring primary school performance.
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