Letter: Misleading exam tables

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Sir: On 31 August you carried a report on the league tables of leading independent schools' GCSE results ("Girls leave the boys trailing in GCSEs"). The table had been prepared by the Independent Schools Information Service.

Fifty schools were listed - the top seven claimed 100 per cent A* to C grades at GCSE. However, this figure is quite misleading.

The league tables for state schools are published by the Department for Education and give the A* to C grades at GCSE as a percentage of pupils on roll in the previous January (Form 7 census time). Pupils who subsequently drop out of school, or who are not being entered for any GCSE exams, are still included in the total from which the percentage of A* to C grades is calculated.

Also, significantly, state schools enter pupils for GCSE when they feel a grade can be obtained between A* and G. Clearly the leading independent schools are prepared to enter pupils for GCSE only when they can confidently predict at least a C grade. This distorts the apparent achievement of these schools.

If Isis is to publish figures which can be used as a comparison with the league tables for state schools, it must calculate them in the same way.