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Education secretary Gillian Shephard today announced a range of measures aimed at raising standards in schools. Th...
Education secretary Gillian Shephard today announced a range of measures aimed at raising standards in schools. The measures, the next steps in the Improving Schools programme, set out to enable schools to measure and improve their performance.

These will:

-- require schools by law to set targets for improving their pupils' performance and publish these in their annual reports;

-- encourage schools to review and improve their own performance using a five stage framework;

-- provide national benchmarks against which schools can judge their performance;

-- assist heads to define teachers' objectives in terms of pupil performance; and

-- bring existing good practice to wider attention through a national conference on schools self-improvement.

Mrs Shephard said: 'This will ensure that every school sets targets for pupils' performance in examinations and statutory assessments.

'We shall consult widely on the detail, but I want to make sure that from next year every school sets and reviews its targets annually and publishes them clearly in its annual report for parents.

'To help schools set realistic and stretching targets, I have asked SCAA and NACETT to look at how they might prepare a set of national benchmarks. These will not just be national averages - because by definition many schools will be doing better and many worse than average - but will show the performance of different types of schools. They will take account of their intake characteristics, especially pupils' prior performance.

'Managers throughout the UK know the benefits of setting targets, comparing performance, and drawing up plans for meeting those targets. These proposals set out a simple five-stage framework for self-improvement for schools which focuses on outcomes. This involves:

-- schools analysing their results;

-- comparing their results with other schools;

-- setting clear and measurable targets;

-- preparing development plans which will ensure that they meet their targets; and

-- then putting action in hand, and reviewing their results.

'Schools are best placed to set their own targets and devise their own improvement plans. Others can support, advise and even challenge. But to get the best results, the school - governors, teachers, pupils and parents - must take responsibility for its own achievement.

'Setting school targets, in the light of national benchmarks, will provide a structure within which headteachers can define measurable objectives for each teacher in terms of their pupils' performance. And when the TTA has completed its framework of professional standards which I announced last week, schools will have national standards against which to assess teachers' skills and define future objectives.

'To bring good practice to wider attention, I intend to hold a national school self-improvement conference on 20 November. Schools, national agencies, Local Education Authorities, TECs and others will be invited to discuss benchmarks, targets and effective management to raise standards.'

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