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Are traditional measures of progress enough for schools?

Sarah Wild, headteacher of Limpsfield Grange secondary school in Surrey for autistic girls, wasn’t satisfied with an exclusive focus on academic achievement – indicated in part by Progress 8 and GCSE results – and so is working to develop her own measure of progress. The school is now looking at setting targets based on four key areas of achievement: well-being, achievement, communication and independence. She says that she considers all of these factors to be of equal importance.

You can read Sarah Wild’s fascinating interview on the Schools Week website, here.

In an educational climate which is increasingly outcomes-driven and results-obsessed, parents and teachers, and indeed students, might be forgiven for worrying that academic measures of progress aren’t sufficient in themselves to assess how well our school leavers are being prepared for the outside world. There’s only so much that a student’s GCSE results can tell you about them as an individual. We ought to be equipping our students with more than just the analytical tools necessary to excel in an exam. They should be ‘taught’ to be healthy, happy, successful and be given the skills to succeed in life no matter what their vocation and academic ability. It would be madness in today’s world to suggest that empathy should be rewarded just as highly as intelligence in schools, but why is this? You could certainly argue that too narrow and blinkered a focus on ‘results’ isn’t giving our children the education they deserve.

This ‘feeling’ is part of what led the Co-operative College to develop the Co-operative Identity Mark. The Co-operative Identity Mark has been developed by the Co-operative College and the Schools Co‑operative Society to support schools in embedding the values within all aspects of their work. It provides a ‘quality’ framework for continued development which incorporates elements of peer support and practice sharing with other co-operative schools. Ensuring that co-operative values and principles are emphasised through different aspects of your school, such as governance and membership, curriculum, pedagogy, staff development and community engagement, is a valid indication of progress beyond exam results. Instilling students with the importance of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, solidarity, honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others will teach them not just to pass exams, but to be citizens of the world.

You can read more and sign up to the CIM, here.

Perhaps we could develop this even further, however. If you have any experience of developing measures of non-academic progress or share convictions about what kinds of progress co-operative schools should value then let me know by emailing me at

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