Head teachers plan own league tables

Exam hall The alternative league tables will appear before the government data

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Head teachers in England have put forward plans to publish their own school league tables this autumn.

This would be separate from the official performance data published by the government, which is currently used to generate school rankings.

Heads want to include more information about schools than exam results, such as music and sport.

Heads' leader Brian Lightman said the current league tables "do not tell the whole story".

The proposals for alternative league tables, to be published on a free website, are being put forward by the Association of School and College Leaders, the National Association of Head Teachers and the United Learning group, which runs academies and independent schools.

They will begin with secondary school results from this summer's GCSE exams - with the aim of "bypassing" political involvement in school data.

Political levers

The planned alternative league tables would be published by schools earlier than the official tables, when parents were making school choices for the following year.

The heads say they want to present an independent and more inclusive view of schools - arguing that it will be more objective than the measures chosen by the government.

They argue that the way that league tables are now assembled is too closely aligned to promoting government policy.

Start Quote

This initiative will give parents stable, accurate and neutral information about schools”

End Quote Russell Hobby National Association of Head Teachers

"The tables have become less a way of giving parents the information they want and more an arms-length policy lever by which successive governments have sought to influence the decisions heads take about how to run their schools," said United Learning's chief executive, Jon Coles.

"This is too crude an approach to defining a great school or encouraging improvement and at different times, it has been detrimental in different ways.

"For example, promoting too much focus on the C/D borderline, especially in English and maths, or promoting choices of qualification which do not serve individual children well."

Another example has been the government's decision for league tables to recognise only a pupil's first entry in exams, as a way of deterring schools from entering younger pupils for exams and then retaking if they want to improve results.

Mr Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, says that "the final results are the ones that really matter" and this should be available to parents.

"We want parents to have access to data they can use in a format they can use it," he said.

'Robust checks'

Mr Coles said that rather than criticising the government over league tables, it was time for the education profession to take responsibility for its own information.

The leader of the National Association of Head Teachers, Russell Hobby, said league tables in their current form were "too often serving political aims rather than pupils' needs and driving the wrong decisions".

Start Quote

We agree that information about school performance should be freely available to parents”

End Quote Department for Education

"This initiative will, over time, give parents stable, accurate and neutral information about schools. It is good to see the school leaders seizing the initiative," he added.

The government has already announced plans for an overhaul of how league tables are assembled.

Instead of the current focus on five GCSEs at grade C or above, including English and maths, from 2016 they will show pupils' overall performance in eight subjects, including English and maths.

"We agree that information about school performance should be freely available to parents. That's why we have taken steps to make our league tables clearer and, in addition to our data, all schools must publish extensive information on their website - including pupil progress," said a Department for Education spokesman.

"Our tables are only published after robust checks so parents know the information we are giving them is accurate.

"Children should not be entered for exams before they're ready, and then for re-sits, or other exams in the same subject. Making more use of end-of-course exams for GCSEs will remove the incentive to game the system in this way."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 434.

    I'm more than a little uneasy with the current system and also what is being proposed here. Regardless of viewpoints both have their own agenda.

    Trouble is, I can't think of anything better ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 386.

    The school system has been fragmented by this government and the practice is continuing unabated. We need a strong and unified system. Some disastrous consequences of the fragmentation and lack of clear control and monitoring has already occurred and this is another nail in the coffin.

  • rate this

    Comment number 382.


    Quite right too - for how many consecutive years do our business leaders need to decry our education system (private & pubic...) for turning out people good at learning facts but not so at problem solving before we finally concede that exam only system & current league tables merely ENTRENCH poor learning, rather than helping it.......?????


  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    My eldest will be starting school this year, so my wife and I visited a number of schools in the area. One boasted about their exam results and high standards, but there was no care, no love and the children were like little zombies. Another school had lower exam results, but the teachers were absolutely superb and the children were thoroughly enjoying themselves.

    We chose the latter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    This is a great idea but it must include the bad as well as the good. As a parent I want to know how many children are suspended and how many reports of bullying in a year, as well as how many child/hours of music or art or sports tuition.

    I want my child to be happy & safe as well as educated.


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