How can Croydon’s Schools Be Improved by Focussing on creativity? – 2 March Conference

Wednesday 2 March. 4.30-6pm. Croydon NUT and Octavo Mutual Croydon Schools Conference

This ‘Ambitious for Croydon Schools’ conference will  provide participants with an opportunity to consider factors that have been identified in recent research projects and educational publications as factors that lead to success in schools. Both Octavo and Croydon Council envision considerable improvements in the performance of schools in the borough and as London schools have outperformed schools in other parts of the country, we will consider the suggestions put forward to account for this and how they might be applied in Croydon schools.

Keynote speaker Merryn Hutchings, Emeritus Professor of Education, London Metropolitan University. Merryn is the author of the DfE report “Evaluation of the City Challenge Programme”, the initiative that has raised standards in London schools and “Exam factories”, a research project commissioned by the NUT.

Plus panel including Sylvia McNamara (CEO Octavo Partnership), Jolyon Roberts (CHTA) and Alisa Fleming (Cabinet Member for Education).

The conference is aimed at those who work in and strive for success in Croydon schools including Class teachers, School Leaders, Governors, Parents and Business Leaders.

The Conference will be held at Croydon College. For further details or to book your place email

Octavo Partnership is the mutual venture between Croydon Council, Croydon Headteachers Association and staff to deliver high quality education support services in Croydon and beyond.

Exam factories? The impact of accountability measures on children and young people

This important report for the NUT examining the growing crisis in schools can be downloaded at T

Findings The findings of the report include:

  • ‘The accountability measure arousing the greatest concern among school leaders and teachers is Ofsted.’
  • There is evidence that high stakes testing results in an improvement in test scores because teachers focus their teaching very closely on the test. Test scores do not necessarily represent pupils’ overall level of understanding and knowledge, but rather, the fact that teachers are focusing their teaching very strongly on preparing pupils for the test.’
  • ‘ There is no evidence as yet that accountability measures can reduce the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers.’
  • ‘There is evidence that disadvantaged children, who on average have lower attainment than their peers and are therefore under greater pressure to meet targets, can become disaffected as a result of experiencing ‘failure’, and this is being exacerbated by recent changes to the curriculum to make it more demanding and challenging.’
  • ‘Research has shown that schools are responsible for only a small proportion of the variance in attainment between pupils – their lives outside school are the main influence. It is therefore unreasonable to expect schools alone to close the gap.’
  • ‘Pupil Premium funding, allocated to schools to support disadvantaged children, is effective in highlighting the needs of this group, but has also had perverse effects.’
  • ‘Accountability measures have previously had the perverse effect of encouraging schools to enter pupils for vocational examinations. This has now been reversed, and schools are encouraged to enter pupils for academic examinations, regardless of their needs, aptitudes or interests. This is contributing to disaffection and poor behaviour among some pupils.’
  • The ’increased focus on English/literacy and mathematics/numeracy and (in secondary schools) academic subjects …. has been achieved at the cost of narrowing the curriculum that pupils experience.’
  • ‘The amount of time spent on creative teaching, investigation, play, practical work etc. has reduced considerably, and lessons more often have a standard format.’
  • ‘The use of Key Stage 2 test scores to determine target grades at GCSE is deeply problematic, both because ….. the test results do not give a realistic picture of children’s levels of knowledge and understanding; and because they are based on test scores in English and maths, which do not represent potential in subjects such as foreign languages, art or music.’
  • ‘Accountability measures have a substantial impact on teachers’: ‘excessive workload’, ‘considerable stress’ and ‘inevitably impacts on pupils.’ e.g. reduction in ‘the quality of their relationships with their pupils.’
  • ‘Children and young people are suffering from increasingly high levels of school-related anxiety and stress, disaffection and mental health problems.’


The report’s recommendations include:

  • As ‘the current system of measuring pupils’ attainment and using this to judge schools and teachers is deeply damaging to children and young people, and does not foster the skills and talents that are needed in higher education or in employment, or the attributes that will be valued in future citizens’, an ‘urgent review of current accountability measures should take place, with a view to substantially changing them.’
  • ‘The different purposes of testing should be separated out so that tests intended to measure pupils’ progress and attainment are not used for school accountability.’
  • ‘Headteachers working in teams should be responsible for holding each other to account through a system of peer group visits and advice.’
  • ‘In cases where there are serious concerns about a particular school, a team of advisors should be available to call in to support that school…’
  • ‘Schools should be expected to foster the talents and skills of all pupils, wherever these lie. The importance of encouraging and enabling all children should be paramount.’
  • ‘A key measure of a school’s success ought to be whether pupils are engaged in learning creatively and happily, and whether at the end of their period in that school they move successfully on to other educational establishments or to work (if it is available), and contribute effectively as members of society.’

About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly, and am a member of the latter's Environment Forum. I am a member of the 5 Norbury Residents Associations Joint Planning Committee, and a Governor of Norbury Manor Primary School. I write for Croydon Citizen at I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and advise the North East People's History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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