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Schools Up in Arms Over New League Tables

Thursday 13th January 2011

Yesterday Michael Gove published new data, which showed most institutions improving but highlighted a new target which five in six pupils miss. Passing the "English baccalaureate", involves securing good GCSEs in English, maths, science, a language and history or geography but also drops the importance of vocational subjects such as music and art. Many teachers are angry because the league table results show many students falling short of the target simply because their subject choices aren’t counted in the reports. In a white paper published last year, the coalition raised the basic target for schools to a threshold of 35% of pupils achieving five GCSEs at grade A*-C, including English and maths, with history, geography  considered to be the other more important subjects to count towards it. The new league tables revealed fewer than one in six pupils in England had scored five good grades in traditional GCSEs.

Private schools and teaching unions have criticised the introduction of the English baccalaureate in this year’s league tables, saying it unfairly skewed the results of schools that had not prepared for it. Teacher unions were also up in arms over the changes to the league tables. The day before the publication of the new league tables, Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said:

"Tomorrow’s secondary school league tables are going to achieve something quite remarkable in being even more meaningless than usual.

"In no way will they show how well schools perform. In fact, it is quite irresponsible to publish the league tables at all since the government has moved the goalposts after the exams, to which they relate, were sat.

"Publishing this data will damage students’ education. Schools are being ranked on a measure which is arbitrary and downgrades vocational education. This is not the way to provide a well-rounded education to fit young people for life in the 21st century."


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