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Plaid Cymru: Scrapping banding is 'step in right direction'

Plaid Cymru has described the replacement of the controversial banding system with a new school categorisation model as "a step in the right direction."

This new categorisation system for schools is a step in the right direction, but there is still a need for improvement in measuring and raising education standards.

Plaid Cymru always warned that banding did not provide a whole view of a school’s performance. We believe that pitting schools against each other is destructive and should not happen.

Plaid Cymru has said from the very beginning that the volatility of the banding system would not prove an effective way to raise school standards, and many educational professionals agreed with us. I am glad that the Welsh Government has now seen sense and scrapped the system of banding.

We have always called for support for underperforming schools and hope that the new system will provide this support. The fact that support services are to be provided by the education consortia means that there is work to be done to strengthen the consortia.

– Simon Thomas, Plaid Cymru education spokesperson

Party of Wales Shadow Education Minister Simon Thomas has welcomed the replacing of the banding system with a new way of assessing school standards.

The Mid and West AM said scrapping banding was a step in the right direction as the Welsh education system moves to improve standards.

“It is disappointing that the Education Minister has not allowed for proper scrutiny on this matter by making a statement in the Senedd.

“An incoming Plaid Cymru Welsh Government would have scrapped the banding system after the 2016 election, so I’m glad the present Welsh Government has replaced it now.

“We have always called for support for underperforming schools and hope that the new system will provide this support. The fact that support services are to be provided by the education consortia means that there is work to be done to strengthen the consortia.

“Plaid Cymru is has always been clear that a strong education system is the foundation of a strong economy, and that is why we will always strive for excellence.”

ASCL union: New school ranking system 'promising'

Headteachers' union ASCL Cymru has welcomed the introduction of a new system for ranking schools in Wales to, saying "it has real promise."

It replaces the controversial 'banding' system for secondary schools.

Accountability is important and necessary. 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.

The minister and his officials have been listening. He is acting decisively to find a more intelligent way to ensure our schools are accountable and we applaud him for it.

– Robin Hughes, ASCL Cymru General Secretary


New colour-coded school rating system replaces banding

A new school rating system has been outlined by the Welsh Government.

It will replace the controversial banding model for secondary schools.

Primary schools will also be ranked - including the smallest ones.

Schools will be placed into a colour-coded system: green for the best, yellow then amber, and red for those struggling. These ratings will be released each January, starting in 2015 - on the My Local School website.

Primary schools will now be included in school rating system. Credit: PA

Schools will be judged according to key performance measures but with a self-evaluation from schools, on their leadership, teaching and learning, taken into account after analysis from regional advisers.

Banding was heavily criticised by unions and opposition parties as too volatile, with some schools jumping several bands in a year, and crude, based on a small number of data methods.

The data that will be used for ranking secondary schools has not been revealed yet - it is now due in October.

For primary schools, pupils' performance in key subjects at age 7 and age 11 will now be used, alongside attendance rates - and the scores compared with other schools with a similar number of pupils from poorer backgrounds.

The performance data will be taken from over three years, rather than one under banding, in an attempt to stop volatility, and allow fair judgement of smaller primary schools.

Schools will be placed into the colour bands, but not given individual scores, and the system is no longer relative - they could all theoretically climb to the top.

Welsh Govt: Categorising schools is not new

The Welsh Government has stressed that schools being categorised by their local authorities has been going on for some time - and that the process will continue under the system of four new education consortia aimed at improving standards around Wales.

In January, it said "all consortia categorise their schools, but they use four systems. A single national categorisation model will ensure that the regional consortia are assessing schools in a consistent way."

The Welsh Government has had to repeatedly deny that the national categorisation model is replacing the controversial secondary school banding system, and faced criticisms that it has provided too many forms of assessment for schools.

Secondary school banding is here to stay. Primary school grading will be introduced by autumn 2014.

Our ongoing review of banding will develop the best way for Welsh schools to track their performance and potential for improvement but we must be clear that local authorities already categorise their schools and have done for some time.

This process exists alongside current banding arrangements and now fully established consortia are keen for that to continue.

We envisage banding data and primary grading data will be used to help consortia with their categorisation.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

Lib Dems: Schools assessed in too many ways

The Welsh Liberal Democrats say the announcement that the secondary banding system will be "revised" from this autumn, and run alongside a new National Categorisation System, will create "more confusion" in schools, as they are being assessed in too many different ways.

There is already a great deal of confusion, with many schools placed in a position where assessment and monitoring can be undertaken in a number of ways: banding, the National Categorisation System, Schools Challenge Cymru, and schools inspection body Estyn.

The result is a complex and unnecessary series of data collection methods which does nothing to give schools the promised “clear way forward” to improvement.

We said in January that if a new system of categorisation was introduced then banding should go and we stand by that statement.

– Aled Roberts, Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Spokesman

The Welsh Government said in January that "a single national categorisation model will ensure that the regional consortia are assessing schools in a consistent way", and that the system already works alongside banding.

There is little detail on how the categorisation model works.

ASCL union: Banding to be scrapped after 2016

Headteachers union ASCL Cymru has predicted that the controversial secondary school banding system will be scrapped after 2016, and fully replaced by the new 'National Categorisation System'.

The Welsh Government has previously insisted that "banding is here to stay" and today announced it would be "revised" from this autumn, alongside the categorisation model, developed by regional consortia.

Robin Hughes, secretary of ASCL Cymru, has said that the categorisation system "has merit and promise" - without the "yo-yo grading" of banding.


Secondary banding 'revised', as primary rankings due

The Welsh Government has announced that its controversial banding system for secondary schools will be "revised" from this autumn - and a new "grading" system for primary schools will also be introduced later in 2014.

Secondary school banding was introduced in 2011, but teaching unions and opposition parties have criticised it as based on crude measures and volatile - with some schools jumping several bands from one year to the next.

In January, Education Minister Huw Lewis insisted "banding is here to stay", after reports it was to be scrapped - but that a planned review after three years was underway.

Mr Lewis said today that the measures included in banding "are being reviewed to ensure that the model continues to align with our priorities for education, in particular with a focus on reducing the impact of deprivation on attainment."

There is no more detail on how a new system could work.

Secondary schools are ranked between bands 1 and 5 in the current system. Credit: PA

Plans to introduce a similar ranking system for primary schools were delayed in 2012, with previous Education Minister Leighton Andrews saying the introduction of annual reading and numeracy tests for pupils in Years 2 to 9 would provide the data needed to band schools.

Those tests were introduced last year, and pupils are sitting the second set of them over the next week.

Education Minister Huw Lewis said today: "A primary school grading model is also being developed to help us better identify schools most in need of support. It will give parents across Wales a clear picture of how schools are performing."

He also reiterated that the reviews of secondary banding and primary grading would happen alongside a new 'National Categorisation' System', from the regional education consortia, which is designed to identify what support struggling schools need.

Welsh Govt: New national model to categorise schools

Responding to the Western Mail's report of a new colour-coded ranking system for Welsh schools, the Welsh Government has appeared to confirm it is introducing a different model for categorising school performance, which it said will provide national consistency.

It has though insisted the existing banding system is not being replaced.

Banding is here to stay. We’ve said all along that we would be looking at it to make sure that it’s effective and meeting the needs of education in Wales. That work is ongoing. As and when we’re in a position to make an announcement we will.

Categorisation by consortia is not new - all consortia categorise their schools, but they use four different systems.

A single national categorisation model will ensure that the regional consortia are assessing schools in a consistent way. It will also provide a robust way for consortia to identify the support and challenge that schools require.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

Education Minister: 'Banding is here to stay'

Wales' Education Minister has taken to Twitter this morning to insist "banding is here to stay."

Huw Lewis said work on reviewing the controversial ranking system is ongoing.

Row over whether school 'banding' will be scrapped

The Welsh Government has insisted that the controversial system of banding secondary schools is "here to stay", after the Western Mail reported that it was to be replaced with a "tough new ranking system."

Banding - where schools are ranked in five bands, based on GCSE results, performance in specific subjects, attendance and the achievements of pupils of poorer backgrounds - was introduced in 2011, and three sets of tables have been published so far.

The banding system has been highly controversial since it was introduced in 2011.

League tables were scrapped in Wales in 2001, and the Welsh Government has insisted banding is not a new form of league tables, but a way of identifying which schools needed support.

The banding system has been criticised by unions and opposition parties, who have said it is volatile and crude.

The Western Mail reported today that there will be a new colour-coded system, where schools struggling in the 'red zone' could face intervention or even closure.

The Welsh Government has responded to the story, saying its planned review of the banding system is "ongoing".