Restore Parents Rights To Detailed School Data

Ofcom school inspections used to provide parents with a wealth of factual data that could help parents see through wooly waffle and vague statements about "values" and "nurturing every child" and help parents decide if a school was good or not.

The right to this data has been destoryed with new simplified Section 5 reports. Restore this right now. At low cost schools could publish data every year. Or Ofstead could publish it for them. They already collect this data for the Government, so the extra cost would minimal.

Here is the information that I, as a parent, would look for when trying to shortlist schools or when considering moving to a new area:

Number of pupils (years 7-11 and sixth form separately), male and female numbers.

Number of teachers

New teachers in the year

How many established teachers have left

Teachers who have joined and left in the same year (staff turnover is an important indicator of an unhappy school).

Number of pupils who took every GCSE subject and numbers by grade band, by age or 1st attempt/2nd attempt (there is a huge difference between a school where most pupils take GCSEs in Hairdressing, Geography and Art at 16, bumping up the league table results, and schools where 14 year olds routinely sit Maths, and a third school where a minority of pupils sit hard subjects, and the same pupils resit once or twice if necessary to improve grades, but all three would score the same in league tables).

Number of pupils in GCSE points bands (do 10% of pupils get no GCSEs or 20%? Averages won't tell you that).

Ethnic breakdown of the school.

Class sizes.

Number of temporary exclusions and indication of how many pupils that refers to.

Number of permanent exclusions.

Pupil outcomes – number of Y11s gone on to further education categorised by 6th form in same school, Other 6th form, FE College, not gone on to further education.

        – number that have gone to University by rough Uni category (Oxbridge, Russel Group, middling, desperate, USA Ivy League) and subject or type of subject.

       – number employed / unemployed after 5 years.

by lessimon

Why is this idea important?

Ofcom school inspections used to provide parents with a wealth of factual data that could help parents see through wooly waffle and vague statements about "values" and "nurturing every child" and help parents decide if a school was good or not.

The right to this data has been destoryed with new simplified Section 5 reports. Restore this right now. At low cost schools could publish data every year. Or Ofstead could publish it for them. They already collect this data for the Government, so the extra cost would minimal.

Here is the information that I, as a parent, would look for when trying to shortlist schools or when considering moving to a new area:

Number of pupils (years 7-11 and sixth form separately), male and female numbers.

Number of teachers

New teachers in the year

How many established teachers have left

Teachers who have joined and left in the same year (staff turnover is an important indicator of an unhappy school).

Number of pupils who took every GCSE subject and numbers by grade band, by age or 1st attempt/2nd attempt (there is a huge difference between a school where most pupils take GCSEs in Hairdressing, Geography and Art at 16, bumping up the league table results, and schools where 14 year olds routinely sit Maths, and a third school where a minority of pupils sit hard subjects, and the same pupils resit once or twice if necessary to improve grades, but all three would score the same in league tables).

Number of pupils in GCSE points bands (do 10% of pupils get no GCSEs or 20%? Averages won't tell you that).

Ethnic breakdown of the school.

Class sizes.

Number of temporary exclusions and indication of how many pupils that refers to.

Number of permanent exclusions.

Pupil outcomes – number of Y11s gone on to further education categorised by 6th form in same school, Other 6th form, FE College, not gone on to further education.

        – number that have gone to University by rough Uni category (Oxbridge, Russel Group, middling, desperate, USA Ivy League) and subject or type of subject.

       – number employed / unemployed after 5 years.

by lessimon

Keep Civil Servant Details Private

The Conservatives pledged to publish the job titles for every member of staff in the Civil Service, and presumably all other public bodies.

This is dangerous.

And a massive breech of privacy.

There are good arguments for publishing some details of top staff, who suggest top level policies and brief Ministers, but 99% do not have this level of influence. Some have good reason for being selective about who they give their details to. A cousin of mine works for a Policing body. If her children's classmates knew that they would be beaten up regularly. Her car would be vandalised or sabotaged. If it were known that her husband has access to senstive data he would be a target for terrorists and organised crime. Most people have one or two dodgy relatives, some might be tempted to ask for favours. Neither my cousin or her husband are influential (or rich) so it is difficult to see what publshing their details would achieve. And publishing their grades would tell the whole world what salary they are on. From there it is a small step to putting peoples bank details on line.

By the way, their employer does not allow out-of-office phone messages, because that would make it easy for naughty people* to impersonate them while on holiday and exercise some Policing advantages or possibly hack their computers. Their neighbours know when they are on holiday, but not who they work for. These are genuine security and lifestyle issues. Redacting data would be unreliable and error prone.

Why is this idea important?

The Conservatives pledged to publish the job titles for every member of staff in the Civil Service, and presumably all other public bodies.

This is dangerous.

And a massive breech of privacy.

There are good arguments for publishing some details of top staff, who suggest top level policies and brief Ministers, but 99% do not have this level of influence. Some have good reason for being selective about who they give their details to. A cousin of mine works for a Policing body. If her children's classmates knew that they would be beaten up regularly. Her car would be vandalised or sabotaged. If it were known that her husband has access to senstive data he would be a target for terrorists and organised crime. Most people have one or two dodgy relatives, some might be tempted to ask for favours. Neither my cousin or her husband are influential (or rich) so it is difficult to see what publshing their details would achieve. And publishing their grades would tell the whole world what salary they are on. From there it is a small step to putting peoples bank details on line.

By the way, their employer does not allow out-of-office phone messages, because that would make it easy for naughty people* to impersonate them while on holiday and exercise some Policing advantages or possibly hack their computers. Their neighbours know when they are on holiday, but not who they work for. These are genuine security and lifestyle issues. Redacting data would be unreliable and error prone.

Radically revise university admission policy

I see little point in large numbers of students going straight from school to university, just to get any old degree, spending three years learning how to consume large amounts of drink and emerging somewhat unemployable. I therefore suggest the following-:

1)  All students should first experience a year' s paid or voluntary employment or VSO, if that still exists.

2)  Courses should be sponsored by an  employer, as relevant to that employment, after say one year of at least satisfactory service.

3)  More general courses should be completed in 1-2 years or perhaps less with only normal holidays. There is nothing sacrosanct about 3 years.

4)  Students should normally live at home, as in many other countries, and there should be fewer universities, each offering more choice. This also avoids the build up of student debt.

5)  A graduate tax is unnecessary and would need a bureaucracy. Tax should follow earnings.

 

Martin of Sevenoaks, an ancient graduate

Why is this idea important?

I see little point in large numbers of students going straight from school to university, just to get any old degree, spending three years learning how to consume large amounts of drink and emerging somewhat unemployable. I therefore suggest the following-:

1)  All students should first experience a year' s paid or voluntary employment or VSO, if that still exists.

2)  Courses should be sponsored by an  employer, as relevant to that employment, after say one year of at least satisfactory service.

3)  More general courses should be completed in 1-2 years or perhaps less with only normal holidays. There is nothing sacrosanct about 3 years.

4)  Students should normally live at home, as in many other countries, and there should be fewer universities, each offering more choice. This also avoids the build up of student debt.

5)  A graduate tax is unnecessary and would need a bureaucracy. Tax should follow earnings.

 

Martin of Sevenoaks, an ancient graduate

A* Results at A Level and GCSE should be for the top 10% only

A* grades at both A Level and GCSE should be allocated to the top 10% of candidates in the country.

When an exam is marked it scores from 0 to 100 percent and the threshold for grade bands is, for instance, 70% correct answers for a B and 80% correct for an A.

Those who reach these thresholds should rightly be given their appropriate grade. However A* should be reserved for the top 10% of candidates, not just some one who scores over, for instance, 85%.

A candidate's paper would be marked to the percent and given an A grade for achieving 80%, and only after all papers are marked would the A* percentage threshold be set, to allow a 10% quota of candidates through. If their paper achieved this amount they would then be upgraded to the A*. Logistically, if really necessary, this upgrade could happen a couple of weeks after the initial GCSE results are revealed.

Why is this idea important?

A* grades at both A Level and GCSE should be allocated to the top 10% of candidates in the country.

When an exam is marked it scores from 0 to 100 percent and the threshold for grade bands is, for instance, 70% correct answers for a B and 80% correct for an A.

Those who reach these thresholds should rightly be given their appropriate grade. However A* should be reserved for the top 10% of candidates, not just some one who scores over, for instance, 85%.

A candidate's paper would be marked to the percent and given an A grade for achieving 80%, and only after all papers are marked would the A* percentage threshold be set, to allow a 10% quota of candidates through. If their paper achieved this amount they would then be upgraded to the A*. Logistically, if really necessary, this upgrade could happen a couple of weeks after the initial GCSE results are revealed.

Change University Education

Change the early stages of University Education so that they are based on lectures provided from CD and Internet storage and the University itself should be taking the very best ideas from the Open University and its coursework based by mail and combining it with the traditional lecture based system to provide the best of both worlds rather than the current system which is more focussed on bums on seats attendance.

Some students need more contact with the lecturers to succeed, others less so. There is an efficiency dividend to be reaped if approached carefully.

Why is this idea important?

Change the early stages of University Education so that they are based on lectures provided from CD and Internet storage and the University itself should be taking the very best ideas from the Open University and its coursework based by mail and combining it with the traditional lecture based system to provide the best of both worlds rather than the current system which is more focussed on bums on seats attendance.

Some students need more contact with the lecturers to succeed, others less so. There is an efficiency dividend to be reaped if approached carefully.

Fossilised studentification

The HMO planning policy introduced by Labour as affects so called 'studentification' has already been reduced by this new government, but there are still Article 4 uses of the regulations that need to go.

This NIMBY policy creates 'fossilised studentifcation' in that once those who have a protected monopoly in an area for their own HMO, they are not going to let it go back to family usage. It discourages competition and investment and creates a false market.

The regulation lacks other mechanisms – e.g., council or housing association accommodation designed for families, or proper investment in purpose built student accommodation.  Note that neither of these solutions incur a long term cost as they bring in rents too.  Universities, councils and investment enterprises are quite capable of addressing this themselves without artificial social engineering as is attempted by these regulations.

It also disadvantages home owners who wish to let out their home on a periodic or medium term basis. This restriction can actually be a disincentive for families to move into an area.  It also affects house prices in a way that is unfair to families – lowering the price by restricting the sales possibilities in an area where adjacent properties are fossilised into being HMO lets by this regulation.

The term 'studentification' is a pejorative which is underserved.  The argument that the area goes quiet when student leave is not much of an argument.  It probably originates with a few shop owners who do quite nicely when the students are there, but want a bit more business when they are not. Anyway,  it's nice when it goes quiet!

This policy is ill-thought out and an undue interference.  Get rid of it please.  We don't need it.

Why is this idea important?

The HMO planning policy introduced by Labour as affects so called 'studentification' has already been reduced by this new government, but there are still Article 4 uses of the regulations that need to go.

This NIMBY policy creates 'fossilised studentifcation' in that once those who have a protected monopoly in an area for their own HMO, they are not going to let it go back to family usage. It discourages competition and investment and creates a false market.

The regulation lacks other mechanisms – e.g., council or housing association accommodation designed for families, or proper investment in purpose built student accommodation.  Note that neither of these solutions incur a long term cost as they bring in rents too.  Universities, councils and investment enterprises are quite capable of addressing this themselves without artificial social engineering as is attempted by these regulations.

It also disadvantages home owners who wish to let out their home on a periodic or medium term basis. This restriction can actually be a disincentive for families to move into an area.  It also affects house prices in a way that is unfair to families – lowering the price by restricting the sales possibilities in an area where adjacent properties are fossilised into being HMO lets by this regulation.

The term 'studentification' is a pejorative which is underserved.  The argument that the area goes quiet when student leave is not much of an argument.  It probably originates with a few shop owners who do quite nicely when the students are there, but want a bit more business when they are not. Anyway,  it's nice when it goes quiet!

This policy is ill-thought out and an undue interference.  Get rid of it please.  We don't need it.

Commit to expert vocational training for non-academic students

Vocational education should be unified in a single system endorsed by industry. There are now thousands of validating bodies of varying quality, and no way for students and employers to know which qualifications are valuable (apart from bias and rumour). 

We should have specialist technical institutes for relevant industries in priority sectors, led & taught by people who excel in their fields. We ought to go back to polytechnics and conservatories. 

Why is this idea important?

Vocational education should be unified in a single system endorsed by industry. There are now thousands of validating bodies of varying quality, and no way for students and employers to know which qualifications are valuable (apart from bias and rumour). 

We should have specialist technical institutes for relevant industries in priority sectors, led & taught by people who excel in their fields. We ought to go back to polytechnics and conservatories. 

ELQ policy should be reversed

The policy to remove support for HE students in England studying for Qualifications at Equivalent or Lower level than their highest current qualification needs reversing, especially for part-time students. The policy has been introduced gradually over the last few years and means that people who need to retrain, by obtaining an HE qualification in a new area, when they already have a degree in another, have to pay international student level fees, making it prohibitive for a great many to do so.

Why is this idea important?

The policy to remove support for HE students in England studying for Qualifications at Equivalent or Lower level than their highest current qualification needs reversing, especially for part-time students. The policy has been introduced gradually over the last few years and means that people who need to retrain, by obtaining an HE qualification in a new area, when they already have a degree in another, have to pay international student level fees, making it prohibitive for a great many to do so.

Anonymise UCAS applications

Anonymise application data on UCAS university applications. Universities currently discriminate against those with more ‘normal’ backgrounds in favour of those that ‘look better to fill their places with’.

ANY discrimination is wrong and I cannot understand how they get away with this now. Surely the ‘white, un-handicapped, male’ also has a same equal right to NOT be discriminated against? The same right that anyone has ‘not to be discriminated against’.

Restore true equality ACROSS ALL AREAS OF CIVIL LIFE IN THIS COUNTRY. Reverse discrimination is just plain wrong.

Why is this idea important?

Anonymise application data on UCAS university applications. Universities currently discriminate against those with more ‘normal’ backgrounds in favour of those that ‘look better to fill their places with’.

ANY discrimination is wrong and I cannot understand how they get away with this now. Surely the ‘white, un-handicapped, male’ also has a same equal right to NOT be discriminated against? The same right that anyone has ‘not to be discriminated against’.

Restore true equality ACROSS ALL AREAS OF CIVIL LIFE IN THIS COUNTRY. Reverse discrimination is just plain wrong.

Free tuition for your first REAL degree

Free tuition should be available for everyones first degree, no grants, just no tuition.

Industry should decide on the number of places available on each degree course universities offer (with a minimum number available for each)

Student loans for living costs should be available at an interest rate that makes is cost neutral for the government to run.

Why is this idea important?

Free tuition should be available for everyones first degree, no grants, just no tuition.

Industry should decide on the number of places available on each degree course universities offer (with a minimum number available for each)

Student loans for living costs should be available at an interest rate that makes is cost neutral for the government to run.

Replace Tuition Fees and Maintenance Loans with Graduate Tax

It is wrong that youg people are burdened with debt to study at university and it is wrong that parental income is taken account of for a group of young adults. Far better to apply a post graduation tax supplement on income for a defined number of years (or up to a total sum collected)

Why is this idea important?

It is wrong that youg people are burdened with debt to study at university and it is wrong that parental income is taken account of for a group of young adults. Far better to apply a post graduation tax supplement on income for a defined number of years (or up to a total sum collected)

Prescriptions & Education

Standardising prescriptions nationwide so the nation pays a reduced prescription charge. What I mean by this is forcing Wales to charge for prescriptions. I don't see why the British Tax payers should subsidise something that they themselves are unable to benefit from.

Standardising University Education nationwide. What I mean by this is forcing Scotland to charge for University fees. I don't see why the British Tax payers should subsidise something that they themselves are unable to benefit from and we already have a huge defeatist in university education.

Create a rating system for university courses. Someone who qualifies as a doctor earns over their professional life, much more than someone who has qualified in say a teacher. So why should a teacher pay the same fees as a doctor? Surely it is more financially viable to stagger the rate of fees dependant on what course you are doing and where you go? America rate their universities, and Ivy League universities are allowed to charge more. Ivy League don't exclude poorer students, who can apply for grants to plug their financial gap. This is subsidised by higher fees to those that can afford it.

Why is this idea important?

Standardising prescriptions nationwide so the nation pays a reduced prescription charge. What I mean by this is forcing Wales to charge for prescriptions. I don't see why the British Tax payers should subsidise something that they themselves are unable to benefit from.

Standardising University Education nationwide. What I mean by this is forcing Scotland to charge for University fees. I don't see why the British Tax payers should subsidise something that they themselves are unable to benefit from and we already have a huge defeatist in university education.

Create a rating system for university courses. Someone who qualifies as a doctor earns over their professional life, much more than someone who has qualified in say a teacher. So why should a teacher pay the same fees as a doctor? Surely it is more financially viable to stagger the rate of fees dependant on what course you are doing and where you go? America rate their universities, and Ivy League universities are allowed to charge more. Ivy League don't exclude poorer students, who can apply for grants to plug their financial gap. This is subsidised by higher fees to those that can afford it.

Abolish university fee’s

 

In recent years the costs of university has become ridiculously unreasonable, students have to mount tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt in order to further their education.

I suggest abolishing these fee's, make education available again, don't restrict it to those who come from a privileged background.

I have just finished university, and during my time there I have racked up in excess of 20 grand worth of debt, a debt which will cost me for many, many years to come.

In my father’s era university used to be free, only those who truly wanted to further their education did so, and as a result only the best of the best could claim they had degree's to their name, we need to make this the case again.

University should be advertised as an option, not as a requirement. Youngsters are made to feel like its the only option, like its the way to go, and aren't made aware of the vast array of other routes they could take after compulsory education.

The British education is revered all over the world, people are desperate to come to us, why should the next generation of British teens have to pay such extortionate prices for this?

Why is this idea important?

 

In recent years the costs of university has become ridiculously unreasonable, students have to mount tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt in order to further their education.

I suggest abolishing these fee's, make education available again, don't restrict it to those who come from a privileged background.

I have just finished university, and during my time there I have racked up in excess of 20 grand worth of debt, a debt which will cost me for many, many years to come.

In my father’s era university used to be free, only those who truly wanted to further their education did so, and as a result only the best of the best could claim they had degree's to their name, we need to make this the case again.

University should be advertised as an option, not as a requirement. Youngsters are made to feel like its the only option, like its the way to go, and aren't made aware of the vast array of other routes they could take after compulsory education.

The British education is revered all over the world, people are desperate to come to us, why should the next generation of British teens have to pay such extortionate prices for this?

Scrap unnecessary checks on university students

Scrap bureaucratic antiterrorism checks on student attendance.

The last government had plans to introduce checks on university students attendance in September as an antiterrorism measure. This was going to be a monthly formal requirement during termtime. Failure to attend two consecutive meetings would result in a report being make to the Home Office of suspicious behaviour.

Firstly attendance (or lack of) should already be known by universities. If some universities have contact with students less often they probably shouldn't have the right to issue qualifications because they cannot prove students are actually studying anything.

Secondly this does not work for students who may have long research projects with overseas fieldwork (e.g. 5 month stint in Australia recording birdsong) when attending a meeting at university is not possible.

Why is this idea important?

Scrap bureaucratic antiterrorism checks on student attendance.

The last government had plans to introduce checks on university students attendance in September as an antiterrorism measure. This was going to be a monthly formal requirement during termtime. Failure to attend two consecutive meetings would result in a report being make to the Home Office of suspicious behaviour.

Firstly attendance (or lack of) should already be known by universities. If some universities have contact with students less often they probably shouldn't have the right to issue qualifications because they cannot prove students are actually studying anything.

Secondly this does not work for students who may have long research projects with overseas fieldwork (e.g. 5 month stint in Australia recording birdsong) when attending a meeting at university is not possible.