The head of education standards watchdog Ofsted has accused many schools of boosting results by removing pupils not expected to do well.
Speaking to BBC Radio, Amanda Spielman described a “corrosive” culture in some schools where league table success took precedence over other aspects of education.
At the Association of School and College Leaders annual conference, in Birmingham, she said: “Childhood isn’t deferrable – young people get one opportunity to learn in school and we owe it to them to make sure they all get an education that is broad, rich and deep.”
She was speaking as teachers were claiming coursework and exams were falsely marked at the high flying Green Spring Academy in Shoreditch where head teacher Mark Keary has been suspended .
These developments come at time when the Government is looking at the best way to progress an education system that is failing so many of our children. Are selective schools the best way forward? Can they close the achievement gap between rich and poor?
Perhaps, instead of trying to find the answers within our system, we need to start looking abroad to see how other countries are managing their education policies. We should face the fact we are no longer the leaders in this field.
Learning lessons from Singapore
Singapore is in top place in the international rankings in education. It has spent the past five decades creating one of the highest performing education systems in the world based on the principle of meritocracy, with an emphasis on academic performance.
The system is competitive, with a strong focus on grades and one which encourages children and families to respect education and to work together to achieve.
The foundations are solid. Having got the academic side right, the Singapore government is now turning its attention to the importance of values. Primary schools are being encouraged to ditch conventional exams and focus instead on the development of the whole of the child.
Children are encouraged to set goals for themselves, be more socially responsible and to work with others.
This shift of emphasis proves that an education system needs to be both academic and pastoral. The best schooling must include a strong focus on learning along with educating children on values and character.
Let’s hope whatever system is next put in place actually learns from the mistakes of the past and doesn’t fail yet another generation of school children.