New school targets will ‘monitor teenage pregnancy’

Schools may be held accountable for teenage pregnancy rates under new government plans to improve pupils’ wellbeing.

According to the Guardian newspaper, a leaked discussion document from the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) moots the idea of making schools accountable for 18 new targets, such as bullying, obesity, and pupils’ actions after leaving school, to add to the current assessment criteria of exam success and exclusion levels.

The government plans, which could be introduced by the Schools Inspection Agency as early as 2009, have been met with fierce opposition from teaching bodies, who reject the notion that schools should be seen as culpable for social problems such as the UK’s high teenage pregnancy rate and drug-taking levels.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said being forced to adhere to strict performance targets was already “pounding schools into the ground”.

“If the government adds more targets over which schools have very little control that would sound the death knell for teachers and school leaders,” she told the Guardian.

“While it’s important for schools to have good joined-up working with a range of other services, they can’t be held responsible for everything.”

The document, entitled Indicators of Schools’ Performance in Contributing to Pupil Wellbeing, suggests a study of pupils’ ‘experiences’ is needed, allowing parents to select schools based on its happiness quotient as well as its academic success.

But Dr John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said schools should not be made entirely responsible for pupils’ wellbeing.

“The new Ofsted inspection framework will include wellbeing, but this has to be delivered in partnership with other authorities.

“It’s absolutely essential this agenda is not dumped on schools,” he added.

A DCSF spokesperson said the department was preparing a response to the newspaper’s report.