Measuring Success

How do we measure the success of our students? Do employers value what we’ve measured and rewarded, or penalised? Does society?

The good news is that we seem to have figured out what to measure. But it’s clear that we’re not yet out of the woods. How do we reward success, and make sure more success is in the pipeline? What about the starting point? Isn’t it easier for some groups of children to succeed than others? Should we then penalise poor performance? Doesn’t that make it even harder for the underachieving to be successful?

Such divisive questions go on and on and the subject of educational attainment is rarely out of the news. It’s something which touches all of us, which we both relate to intellectually as citizens in a complex society, and viscerally as parents. The two perspectives don’t necessarily make good bedfellows.

Bearing in mind that success and its measurement seem to be extremely complex matters, as teachers what should we think as we arrive at school with a full day of young person-moulding ahead? What difference, really, can we make?

Naturally, the answer seems to be ‘all the difference’, for who else will turn our children into responsible, useful, happy adults if we don’t? Who else will give them a sense of self-belief, empathy for others, and fulfilment, a trick which will surely serve them well in every aspect of their adult lives, and make society a better place?

Many of us, regardless of how we got on at school, had a favourite teacher; a teacher who cared about us, listened to us, inspired us, and made learning an enjoyable activity. Most of us would rate this as success in the classroom, wouldn’t we? – someone we remember fondly many years afterwards, someone who gave their all to making learning great. Would we remember, as fondly, a teacher who cared passionately about our measurement? We’re talking human interaction here, not factory farming.

There’s a saying now in the business world – it’s a new-fangled thing – it goes ‘look after your people, and the numbers will look after themselves’. Haven’t we always known this in education? Isn’t it about time we remembered it afresh?


Further reading on the subject of success measurement in schools:

The Guardian – How can we measure a school’s success in preparing students for the future?

TES – Why doesn’t Ofsted care how outcomes are achieved? – Measuring School Success

TES – Ofsted shouldn’t decide which schools are outstanding. Teachers should.

C. Turner, for CHTA