Pupils are more than just league-table modifiers

The new national disgrace is the rise in pupils being asked to leave – sometimes out of the blue – towards the end of their summer holidays when AS-Levels results come out

Share

I can't recall a clearer sense of the seasons passing than this
past week's transition. Perhaps it's because we did actually have a
summer this year, but am I alone in feeling the unbearable
heaviness of time passing as temperatures plummet and the nights
draw in?

If the traditional signifiers were not pregnant enough with meaning, then there are unwelcome modern landmarks: the despicable but addictive football transfer-window deadline; and the return of The X-Factor.

For millions of households it's Back To School time. My two daughters are years past the stage of the crisp, new over-sized uniforms, but the emotional maelstrom persists: sorrow at the ending of summer's delicious languors mixed with optimism for the new year; renewing old friendships, making new ones.

That's how it should be. But my heart really goes out to the latest group of children our pernicious system is failing: A-level pupils forced unexpectedly to find a new school because their predicted grades might bring down their existing school's standing in those damn league tables.

It has long been the case now that after five years in one place post-GCSE schoolchildren can be forced out before A-levels if their GCSEs are not quite up to scratch. It has so become the norm that it is scarcely commented upon. Difficult as it must be for those who leave unwillingly, there is at least a certain natural break for 16-year-olds between years 11 and 12.

The new national disgrace is the rise in pupils being asked to leave – sometimes out of the blue – towards the end of their summer holidays when AS-Levels results come out. That's halfway through their sixth-form years, and despite AS-Levels being part of the final A-Level. Never mind that a rogue D could be turned around into a solid pass.

Why? Yes, it's those league tables again. Independent and grammar schools in particular being concerned by their standing. What was the point of those tables again? Weren't they sold to us all as a more empirical way of telling us one school was better than another?

Another way is surely for schools to excel at developing the skills and confidence of the children placed in their care. Instead of kicking them out, leaving them the daunting task of scrabbling around finding a school at short notice for one year at huge cost to their social equilibrium, friendships, learning and self-belief, how about working with them to improve on past disappointments and realise their full potential?

Surely the whole point of school is that pupils are not the finished article, and teachers work with them to become the best they can be? Sacrificing their needs before the league table altar? Well, that really is cause for winter blues.

Stefano Hatfield is editorial director of London Live

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Take a moment to imagine you're Ed Miliband...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Letters: No vote poses difficult questions – so why rush?

Independent Voices
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits