THE announcement by the Chief Inspector of Schools that there will be less focus in future inspections on examination results is, in my opinion, long overdue. These changes will move the focus away from headline data to look instead at how schools are achieving these results, and whether they are offering a curriculum that is broad, rich and deep, or simply teaching to the test.

In a speech to school leaders, Amanda Spielman said: “These changes will be designed to allow teachers and leaders to focus more of their time on the real substance of education.” She went on to say, “For a long time, our inspections have looked hardest at outcomes, placing too much weight on test and exam results when we consider the overall effectiveness of schools. Ofsted will challenge those schools where too much time is spent on preparation for tests at the expense of teaching, where pupils’ choices are narrowed or where children are pushed into less rigorous qualifications mainly to boost league table positions.”

The data-driven obsession with results has placed intense pressure on schools to meet targets and ‘teach to the test’. Successive governments are to blame although the desire to improve education for all is clearly a good thing. However, such improvement can be measured and judged in more ways than exam results. The new inspections will also reach judgements on the quality of education, including breadth of curriculum, as well as pupils’ attitudes to learning and their behaviour.

At Bury Grammar School we have for some time placed a very high emphasis on the pupils’ attitude to learning. It seems to me that if this is what we encourage most, then academic success will come. But even if academic success does not come whilst at school, a well-developed positive attitude to learning may mean a far greater chance of success in adulthood. I have taught a good number of students over the years who may have achieved modest academic results whilst at school but owing to their excellent attitude thrived at university and beyond.

We know that happiness and success in life depend on far more than a string of grades achieved whilst children are at school. Schools need to respond to the chief inspector’s announcement by developing curriculums which most suits their pupils and best prepares them for life – including extracurricular activities beyond the classroom. We want pupils in all schools to enjoy their learning from an early age through to their post 16 studies.

Maybe this recognition that the focus on data may have been to the detriment of other aspects of education will result in a more holistic approach which will see many more pupils becoming A* human beings.