Exasperated head teachers to publish rival school league tables
Schools will create their own GCSE league tables in opposition to official stats
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Wednesday 13 August 2014
Head teachers are to start publishing their own rival school league tables after years of complaining that government rankings are “too crude”.
The initiative comes as 300,000 pupils prepare to receive their A-level results tomorrow morning.
The new tables - the first of which will be published this autumn and focus on GCSE results - have two advantages over the Government’s tables.
They will be published two months earlier, giving parents more time to use them as they select a school for their child, and they will include what they call more “parent-friendly” and non-exam information.
For instance, it will be possible to find out how many pupils at a school play a musical instrument and what sporting opportunities are available.
Head teachers across the country decided to collaborate on devising their own rankings amid concerns that official tables do not give parents the full picture of their exam results.
They are incensed in particular at the decision by former Education Secretary Michael Gove only to record the grades awarded to a pupil when they first sit their exam from this year, rather than their final result.
In addition, they are angry that after encouraging schools to offer the International GCSE, an alternative to GCSE’s based on traditional O-level lines officials are excluding them from tables in 2017, the first year of the new reformed GCSEs approved by Mr Gove.
The head teachers’ move comes after years of virtually all teachers’ organisations calling for league tables to be scrapped. Now they take the line that they are better served by seizing control of the agenda themselves and publishing their own tables.
They are combining with one of the country’s leading academy chains, United Learning, and PiXL, an organisation dedicated to securing school improvements, to publish the tables. They will hold discussions with Mumsnet in the coming months to discuss the kind of information parents want to see in the tables.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “Schools must be accountable but the Government’s performance tables have become a sledgehammer to crack the system, too often serving political aims rather than pupils’ needs.”
Jon Coles, chief executive of United Learning and a former senior at the Department for Education responsible for the Government’s league tables, added: “Over time, the tables have become less of a way of giving parents the information they want and more an arms-length policy lever by which successive governments have sought to influence the decisions heads take about how to run their schools.
The decision to only record the grades awarded at a first sitting came after concerns were expressed that schools were putting pupils in for multiple sittings of GCSEs to try and secure crucial C grades in maths and English which would show up on the league tables.
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