Richard Garner: 'Every parent has the right to find out information about any school'

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The Independent Online

One thing has to be said about this year's primary school performance tables. It would be a Government health warning (except the Government is not likely to want to draw attention to it in this way).

It is this: They cannot be used to compile an accurate league table of how primary schools in England have fared in English and maths tests for 11-year-olds last summer.

I know politically and morally many involved in the education service think that is true every year but this year it is especially so as 4,000 schools are missing due to the fact that two teachers' organisations – the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and National Union of Teachers (NUT) boycotted them this year.

As such, they can only be read as what they are: a table giving information on the individual performance of all the schools whose results are included in it.

Many people would like that to be the case every year – and go further by abolishing the tables altogether, just giving parents the right to see the results of any school they are interested in sending their children to.

Unfortunately, that is unlikely to be the case. There is a review of the tests being conducted but the mantra from Education Secretary Michael Gove has always been that both the tests and the tables are here to stay. He would, however, like to see more information given in the tables, so parents can get a more rounded picture of schools they are interested.

The results of the review, though, will not be able to be put in place for next year's tests and the ensuing tables. And both the NAHT and NUT are holding off on their boycott next year – one of the pre-requesites demanded by Michael Gove before they were allowed to play their full part in the review.

The review, though, will publish its findings before the tests are taken next year – giving us a glimpse of what is to come before we revert to league tables as normal, possibly for just one year, next December.

Personally I would like to see the tests continue but – instead of this mass bureaucratic exercise of publishing performance tables – go along with the idea that every parent has the right to find out information about any school they are interested in.