Anyone reading the latest school evaluation reports could be forgiven for thinking they contained nothing but praise.
Summaries of the full four-page School Self-Review and Evaluation (SSRE) reports for Braddan, Onchan, Marown, Anagh Coar schools and Dhoon were distributed to parents and the media last month.
But are the two-page summaries providing a true reflection of the full reports – or are they putting a positive spin by omitting the negatives?
Education chiefs insist the summaries give a fair picture.
Director of education Geoff Moorcroft said: ‘I think they cover the main points. That with the caveat the full report is available to everyone who requests it.’
There are apparent discrepancies, however.
Braddan School’s summary, under the category achievement against prior attainment, includes all the points outlined in the full report except one.
This reads: ‘Progress within individual year groups and in relation to end-of-year targets showed considerable inconsistency and the school is right to regard this as a cause for concern.’
Braddan’s full report states: ‘There is some very good practice in teaching. This is not consistently implemented across the school.’
But its summary reads: ‘There is some very good practice in teaching.’
Onchan School’s full report reads: ‘Most teachers use a range of creative strategies to ensure all pupils are challenged.’
But its summary misses out the qualifying first word of the sentence, saying only: ‘Teachers use a range of creative strategies to ensure all pupils are challenged.’
Anagh Coar’s full report states: ‘There is some good – and very good assessment practice. This is not yet consistent across all classes. Assessment is ‘Satisfactory’ overall.’
But in the summary it says only: ‘There is some good – and very good assessment practice.’
In Marown’s summary of its achievement against prior attainment category, it states achievement was satisfactory, including: ‘The team agreed that there are undoubtedly good aspects of pupils’ achievement against prior attainment.’
But the full report explains the reason for the satisfactory verdict, which is not outlined in the summary.
There were no negative comments in Dhoon’s full report.
Mr Moorcroft said it was the head teachers and not the department who compiled the summaries and what they included was a matter of judgement.
‘The full reports are available to anyone who wishes to read them and can be obtained from either the school or the DEC,’ he said.
‘However the reports themselves are quite lengthy and include background information about the school and about the process that has been undertaken.
‘We also recognise that not all parents have time to read them so since the process started in 2008 we have asked schools to summarise the outcomes in a shorter paper too for everyone’s assistance.
‘By their very nature these summaries can’t contain every aspect of the evaluation process but importantly they must highlight the judgements under each heading – which can be that a school shows ‘significant strength’, is ‘good’, is ‘satisfactory’, or that ‘action is required’. They also contain the conclusion as to how well the school knows itself.’
But he added: ‘We will in future ask schools sharing their SSRE summaries with parents to make it clear that the full report is freely available, if they don’t already do so.’