From Peter Shreeve, joint IW branch secretary, National Education Union:

Re Isle of Wight schools still underperforming (CP, 25-01-19).

Annual publication of performance tables creates anxiety. Leaders and teachers bask in the glow of apparent success or squirm whilst considering how to handle the onslaught of recriminations.

Students feel inadequate in an “underperforming” school and are consoled by support staff.

Other students defend their school, as they know staff work hard to support and nurture.

We assume school performance tables are an accurate indicator of school effectiveness. They are not.

The ‘Progress 8’ measure that is used to compile these tables is inherently flawed.

Using a grade achieved in primary in two subjects is not a safe starting point against which to assess five years later.

Nor does it take into account all the complex factors that affect attainment, such as the reorganisation from a three to two-tier structure, frequent  school leader change or the almost annual staffing re-structures as austerity and pupil admission volatility impacts on funding.

Students make progress over years — five secondary years and six primary.

How much genuine stability has there been in that time?

Tables can disadvantage schools in economically and socially deprived areas.

Many good schools fall to the bottom simply because they serve poorer communities.

There is a well-established link between child poverty and academic attainment, yet performance tables fail to reflect the hard work schools put in to try and compensate.

Not all subjects or exams receive equal billing.

Some receive less teaching time, although they may be more suited to the individual’s needs.

Others, such as the European Computer Driving Licence course, recently relegated from the tables are examined, but not taught.

Government must look at the evidence, stop this misleading use of data and move towards accountability that gives a true picture of the work and attainment of schools.

Ultimately, our local schools need to work together.

Older staff will remember collaboration on the Island VLE, whole-Island training sessions, the shared Education Centre and being part of a whole-Island education community.

Perhaps a little rose-tinted, but surely better than the fragmented system we have at present.