How volatile is school banding?

31 Jan

After the Western Mail broke this story about the possible end of banding I thought it was important to look at the legacy of the policy and its impact on schools.

I have argued before that one of the major failings of the banding system is its volatility.  It seems that banding publication day goes hand in hand with the phrase “yo-yo effect,” but just how bad is it?

I’ve looked at the difference in the standings of schools between their banding positions in 2013 and 2011.  The results have really highlighted just how unpredictable the system is and how poor, as a result, an indicator it is for teachers, parents and the general public at large to use as an effective measure of school performance.

Of the 216 schools that have three years of banding results 77 (35.6%) of them have moved up at least one band.  15 of those have moved up two bands while 14 have moved up by three bands.  On the face of it that could be seen as good news.  Progress is being shown as those schools move up the bands.  However, as many people warned with the introduction of school banding, the nature of the system means that schools within the bandings can only improve if others decline.  It is no surprise then to see that a similar number of schools have moved down at least one band as have moved up.  87 (40.2%) schools made the reverse journey with 30 of them moving two bands lower, 5 moving three bands and 1 moving down by four bands.  Of course this is just comparing the positions of 2013 and 2011.  In any given year 2011-2012 or 2012-2013 there could be a greater number of schools that went up or down 2, 3 or 4 bands.

Over the three years of banding a total of 52 schools are in the same band in 2013 that they were in 2011.  However, of those 29 moved at least one band up or down before returning to their starting point.

Overall 164 schools (75.9%) are either up or down on their original banding positions with 193 (89.3%) schools having moved at least one band at some point during the three years.

It is quite clear that there is a huge amount of instability in the system at present.  I hope banding is scrapped.  The Education Minister has tweeted that this is not going to be the case and banding is here to say. The Minister has given a welcome commitment to a review of how the system operates which is essential as in its current form banding simply cannot secure the confidence of teachers, pupils or parents.

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