Government plans a new league table – of students

Parents' groups alarmed at Gove proposalto give A-level pupils a national ranking

Pupils face being given a national ranking from first to up to nearly 90,000th in A-level exams to help universities select the brightest candidates from thousands of top-grade passes.

The move was floated by the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, as one of a series of radical measures to revamp A-levels, but parents' leaders said they were "alarmed" by the proposal and warned it would lead to increasing numbers of appeals against exam results.

One more mark could mean the difference of up to 1,000 places in the ranking.

"You can imagine a kid being really chuffed to get an A-level, only to be choked at being told 'actually, you're only 500th in the country in this exam'," said Margaret Morrissey, of the parents' pressure group Parents Outloud.

In his speech, Mr Gove said some exam boards were debating the idea of ranking pupils. Other moves outlined by Mr Gove in a speech to Ofqual, the exams watchdog, included placing a limit on the awarding of A* grades, so that only a fixed percentage were handed out every year.

The rankings would indicate which pupils were top in the country in each subject – and also bottom.

In the same way as A-level grades, they could be passed on to universities, schools and individual pupils.

At one school where ranking has already been trialled, Burlington Danes academy in Hammersmith, London, it had improved pupil performance and led to students rating their teachers.

"Parents love it," he said, "because they give information that they'd previously been denied. In the past, parents asked 'how has my son done?' and they would receive the reply 'he's a lovely boy'. Now they accurately knew where he stood."

Results had also improved.

"So if ranking can achieve that in one school in White City, if additional data and transparency can generate those beneficial results, is there a case for exam boards publishing more data about the performance of students rather than less?"

On limiting A* grades, he added: "We can't go back to a situation where all exams are graded on the basis of norm referencing (fixing the percentage pass rate, as happened in A-levels prior to 1980)."

However, he added: "Could it be the case that – while we award As, Bs and Cs on the basis of criterion reached, is there a case for exploring whether or not A*'s should be allocated only to a fixed percentage of candidates? I would like to see that debate explored and engaged with."

The conference was told by Glenys Stacey, chief executive of Ofqual, that "most recent studies" showed evidence of exam papers being less demanding.

A soon-to-be-published report on A-level chemistry will reveal that the exam was less demanding in 2008 than 2003.

There were, she said, many more shorter questions that relied on candidates' memories rather than knowledge.

Professor Robert Coe, from Durham University, addressing the same conference, said analysis showed A-levels had suffered from grade inflation for the past 20 years.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Governors for Victoria Education Centre and Sports College

Voluntary non trustee post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Reach Volunteering: External HR Trustee Needed!

Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree have recently been awa...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable