Letter: Explaining the league tables

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Sir: Of our 159 fifth-form GCSE candidates this year, only one failed to achieve five A-C passes, and so it is unfortunate that the published figure for Oundle of 94 per cent does not fairly represent our success.

The results used in the published league tables are for pupils aged 15 rather than those for the GCSE year group. It is not unusual in academic schools to have a number of children who are a year young for their year group, and it is also not uncommon to have a small number of pupils, especially ones from overseas, who are old for their year group. Such pupils who have taken one or two GCSEs as fourth-formers, and who will take the rest of their subjects next year, have been counted as pupils who failed to gain five A-C passes.

I might also add that the UCAS (A-level) point scores are distorted. Many schools enter pupils for four A-levels, but at Oundle we operate a strict three A-level rule, insisting that sixth-formers follow a curriculum that includes non-examined, non-specialist courses giving the breadth lacking from the education of the majority of sixth-formers in this country. The penalty that we pay for providing this fuller education is to have our published scores reduced by up to 25 per cent.

I have no fundamental objection to the publication of league tables, but I do hope that it is clearly understood that distortions are inevitable and, consequently, any interpretation must be taken with a pinch of salt. In schools, we must all resist the temptation to allow consideration of league positions to have a negative influence on educational decisions.

Yours faithfully,


Director of Studies

Oundle School

Oundle, Peterborough

17 November