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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Manager

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Nursery Manager is required t...

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living