by Paul Goodman
Policy Exchange has today published a new report which says that schools are ignoring pupils capable of getting A* grades – concentrating instead on bumping students up from a D to a C. The study, called Room at_the_Top, was undertaken by Professor Deborah Eyre, the Education Director for Nord Anglia Education.
It calls for all schools to expect excellence from all their pupils, for such exams GCSE to be made more rigorous and for every pupil to be given an assigned member of staff with responsibility for monitoring their progress and coaching them towards high levels of performance.
An analysis of GCSE results contained in the report proves that the key measure for schools of getting as many pupils to get five A* to C grades at GCSE has worked as a “floor target” – "effectively encouraging mediocrity", as the think-tank puts it.
Professor Eyre said –
“Children who try harder do better. But because of a fear of appearing ‘elitist’, pupils are not being encouraged to put in the effort which will bring about excellence. We need an approach which will recognise and nurture signs of high performance in every subject – both academic and vocational. There are many more pupils capable of high performance than we currently recognise."
James Groves, head of Policy Exchange’s education unit, said –
“Schools need a relentless focus on high achievement. If we are to produce enough skilled, able adults who will be able to compete in a vastly-tougher global economy, then we cannot afford to waste any potential at all. Just being able to master basic skills is no longer enough. We need a workforce that can take on anyone in the world and beat them.”