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Accountability, Leadership

Accountability and Inclusion; Like Oil and Water?

If the English Education System is to move forward it has to address a long tail of underachievement.  This underachievement can be greater for certain groups of pupils; disadvantaged, particularly white working class, looked after children and those with special educational needs.  The move towards greater equity, in terms of educational outcomes, is likely to be achieved as we become more inclusive as a system.

Photo Credit: Pexels

The challenge schools face is that the accountability drivers are not aligned with inclusion; anecdote, stories and whispers abound of school improvement, enhanced Ofsted grades and performance table positions, brought at the cost of individual pupils’ education.  These pupils are often those who provide greatest challenge in terms of inclusion.  Off rolling via permanent exclusion, moved to alternative providers, “forced” off roll through excessive fixed term exclusions to the school down the road or advised that elective home education would be their best option.  There is sadly no recognition and punishing accountability measures for taking the most challenging pupils on roll.

Headteachers’ Roundtable is keen to help devise and promote an Inclusion Measure for schools; we do need help but fortunately don’t need to wait for the Department for Education to act.  It’s to the latter’s shame that they are not leading the way on promoting inclusion; sometimes words are important, sometimes they are just hot air.

An Inclusion Measure matters; we will be able to investigate whether school improvement, improved value added score/Ofsted grade, is linked to more inclusive or less inclusive practice or that there is no particular correlation/pattern.  Imagine we found that schools generally improve their Ofsted grade/performance table position by becoming less inclusive or that the highest rated schools, according to Ofsted grade/performance table position, are not particularly inclusive; is this acceptable?  If schools are wildly varying on the Inclusion Measure what should the system’s response be or do we just accept that there will be a range of levels of inclusivity across the system and variation is to be expected.

An inclusion measure alongside performance measures would create the necessary checks and balances a system needs for high achievement and high equity, that is, to become World Class.  Any Inclusion Measure should be based on three consecutive years of data; general principles should be public but the exact means of calculating should be confidential, to minimise gaming; the measure should evolve over time as priorities change and lessons are learnt and be presented in a similar manner to the performance measures; for example, Progress 8 currently has schools divided into well above average, above average, average, below average and well below average and so could the Inclusion Measure.

Here’s a starter for ten on how the Inclusion Measure calculation could work.  It should be based on: an admission measure, a retention measure and an achievement measure for key underachieving sub-groups, for example, disadvantaged pupils who are identified via the pupil premium funding.

  1. A point’s tariff is determined for each pupil from an underachieving sub-group who is admitted to the school; this could be the same or enhanced for pupils admitted at times other than the standard ones (reception or Year 7).
  2. A point’s tariff is determined for each pupil from an underachieving sub-group who is retained by a school from one year to the next and subtracted for each pupil from the sub-group who leaves irrespective of the reason for leaving; this will ensure schools don’t waste time on trying to manipulate the means for not retaining.
  3. At the end of primary/secondary a point’s tariff is determined for each pupil from an underachieving sub-group who reaches a particular standard or who makes a certain level of progress.
  4. To match national priorities and based upon statistical data the tariff could be increased for certain groups of disadvantaged pupils; looked after children or those who have been persistently disadvantaged, eligible for free school meals for 80% of their time at school.
  5. A school’s individual tariff is compared to the average for the phase and graded well above average, above average, average, below average and well below average. 

Tomorrow it’s back to the day job; the hard winter months that lead to a peak in permanent exclusions in December.  There’s a more limited festive outlook for some of our pupils in the months ahead.



16 thoughts on “Accountability and Inclusion; Like Oil and Water?

  1. What a refreshing read from a school leader! I know many, many more who feel the same and would readily ‘come on board’ – I was lucky enough to work with some like-minded heads in Rossendale, Ribble Valley and Hyndburn. The system can support these young people but, as you point out, it needs incentive alongside the principled commitment of leaders.

    Great stuff @HeadsRoundtable !

    Posted by bocks1 | November 5, 2017, 9:09 am
    • Also worth looking at the AP toolkit developed in Cumbria called PECS (Personal Extended Curriculum Standards). Cheap, cheerful and excellent for developing strong AP links.

      Posted by bocks1 | November 6, 2017, 9:22 am
  2. The scoring system should not be confidential. What you want is schools to be more inclusive, surely, rather than penalise those who aren’t and not give them ways to get better. The way to do this is to be open and explicit about the scoring methods and ensure they encourage effective inclusiveness.
    Additionally, some individuals would know the methodology and this would open up all sorts of issues.

    Posted by Stephen Fuller | November 5, 2017, 10:40 am
  3. Love to help

    Working across a whole LA providing AP and support to schools
    I have the support of the L A and together we were thinking of developing an inclusion charter. Bucks has the highest rate of exclusion, especially for disadvantaged students

    Could we trial something, could we help

    I have a #WomenEd inclusion lead meet booked for 22 nov !!

    Posted by Debra Rutley | November 6, 2017, 6:24 am
  4. Won’t this just lead to gaming in that schools will be desperately trying to get pupils disgnosed as SEND even if they are not?

    Posted by fish64 | November 6, 2017, 7:33 pm
  5. I have just begun to take over the SENCo role in the primary school I work at. After reading Jarlath O’Brien’s book and Cherryl Drabble’s book I was happy to see that some people understand that progress does not always have to be linear but can also be lateral. A small group of children with high needs now take part in alternative qualifications through the AQA Unit award scheme at our school – they still participate in class as often as possible but these alternatives give them life skills that will be just as important for them as academic skills.

    Posted by Igray | November 7, 2017, 6:45 pm
  6. Really forward thinking model. I work in an LA with some of the highest levels of exclusions nationally so am interested in how this might work on a local level to reduce exclusion.

    Posted by Libby Pringle | November 7, 2017, 6:48 pm
  7. Your post is like a light shining in the darkness. Is this solely your view, or are you representing HTRT.

    I’m at a school in special measures with overview of inclusion and behaviour. What you describe is exactly what I feel I am being told to do by our board, by the DFE, and sadly by our Catholic diocese: get rid of the most challenging children. I’m feeling increasingly ethically compromised. It’s good to hear another view.

    I do wonder about a couple of points in your plan. Point 3: some schools are in areas where there is a lot of population movement, so high turbulence. Would they be unfairly penalised?
    Point 4: research shows that children whose families move in and out of FSM eligibility fare worse than those who remain in it (rationale for Ever 6). Wouldn’t that be a better measure?

    Thank you again. Please don’t stop pushing this.

    Posted by Rodger Caseby | November 8, 2017, 6:08 am
    • Thanks for the comment Rodger; it’s a HTRT project. The transience issue would need to be looked at when we get to testing the formula (Not sure when we’ll get there) and I thought point 4 was the other way round; I’ll recheck EPI Report. Keep going; sounds like the school and system both need you.

      Posted by LeadingLearner | November 8, 2017, 6:17 am


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