Education & Family

GCSE league tables out early to help parents choose school

Exam hall Image copyright PA
Image caption This summer's results are going to be in league tables earlier this year

Secondary school league tables in England are going to be published earlier this year so parents can compare the most recent GCSE results when choosing schools.

At present, school league tables are published in January - after the application process has finished.

But from this year, the Department for Education will publish provisional GCSE results in mid-October.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said it would provide a more "informed choice".

The plans, announced by the Department for Education, will mean that parents looking at local secondary school places for the following autumn will have the most up-to-date exam results, at least in provisional form.

Rival league tables

At present, families may be shown individual school results from the most recent summer exams, but the official comparisons are based on results from the previous year.

The full performance tables will still be published in January, but a provisional version will be brought forward to the autumn term.

They will be on a searchable website, so parents can draw up comparative league tables for their local area.

The provisional figures will show headline information such as the percentage of pupils achieving five good GCSEs, including English and maths.

They will be based on the grades from exam boards in the summer - but will show the position before the outcome of any appeals.

It will also include information about the proposed new way of measuring school performance, based on average achievement across eight subjects including English and maths.

"Choosing the right school is one of the most important decisions parents will make for their child and so we want to make sure they have as much up-to-date information as possible to make an informed choice," said Mr Gibb.

"This is why we will now publish provisional GCSE results before the admissions window closes - further empowering parents and continuing our commitment to transparency."

But there will also be another rival set of school league tables this autumn, with head teachers planning to run their own alternative tables, which they say will include a broader picture of school achievement.

It remains uncertain which league tables - head teachers' or the DFE's - will be published first.

Brian Lightman, leader of the ASCL head teachers' union, said that he was concerned about the education department's publication of incomplete results.

He also warned that focusing on headline exam results would not show how much progress was being achieved.

The head teachers' alternative league tables, supported by ASCL and the National Association of Head Teachers, are promising to show a wider range of information, including subjects such as music and sport.

Mr Lightman says they will also show a fuller picture of achievement, such as the final results of a year group, rather than being based only on first entries, without the outcome of re-takes.

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