The Coalition is abolishing league tables in their current form because they focus too much on the number of pupils gaining five A* to C grades, but the reforms may result in more schools failing.
The government believes that the current system lets too many ‘coasting’ schools, that admit bright children at 11 but fail to push them by the time they sit GCSEs, off the hook, The Independent reports. Critics have claimed that it leads to a focus on borderline pupils – those on the cusp of a C/D grade – at the expense of both the less able and the brightest.
Instead, from summer 2016 secondary league tables will rank schools on their performance in their best eight GCSE subjects – rather than the current five – and measure them against how well schools in similar circumstances perform.
Schools Minister David Laws said that the changes would lead to double the number of ‘coasting’ schools being branded as failing: “These schools find it easy to hit targets based on five C grades. The school may look successful, but Cs are not a success if pupils are capable of more. The accountability system must set challenging but fair expectations for every school, whatever its intake.”
The reforms had a mixed reception from teaching unions. The NUT was concerned about a new ranking that will show the destination of school leavers. General secretary Christine Blower said it would “cause great consternation for those in areas of high unemployment or whose pupils cannot afford to go on to further education.”
Headteachers welcomed the move, with NAHT’s Russell Hobby saying: “For the first time league tables will value the achievement and progress of every child equally rather than just those on the C/D borderline. They put an appropriate emphasis on English and maths but also recognise achievement across a broader curriculum.”
What do you think about the changes? Will they measure all pupils’ progress more effectively?