Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The wonderful world of league tables

Politicians are obsessed with league tables in education, often using them as examples that their preferred method of telling teachers how to do things is working. Labour were notorious for dumbing down exam standards to keep the percentages of those getting the higher levels rising despite the fact that many employers and a good few universities were pointing out that the standard of education of those applying was becoming ever more dire.
Still, you'd expect the top private schools to be at the top of the education tables, well you would if it weren't for a technicality where because they make their pupils take a much harder exam, their results in the league tables make them look bad.


Many of the most famous schools in the world – including Eton, Marlborough, Harrow and Dulwich College – registered lower results than some of England’s worst-performing comprehensives because of a technicality.
According to the tables, at 142 independent schools no pupils achieved five A* to C grades including English and maths, while a further 26 scored below 10 per cent.
The rock-bottom ratings come because most independent schools have dropped conventional GCSEs in some subjects and moved towards the tougher International GCSE – an alternative qualification based on the old O-level.
Labour refused to recognise the qualifications – skewing independent school results – but the Coalition has pledged to reverse the decision.
However, a popular maths IGCSE set by the Edexcel exam board was not accredited in time for this year’s rankings, sending schools to the bottom of the tables.
Typical of Labour, not recognising a harder exam in order to make other schools under their control look good, though I doubt it stopped those who could afford it sending their kids in for private education. Anyone who could afford to probably knew about the IGCSE anyway, though it does beg the question as to why kids in the ordinary schools were never given a chance to take it. I know if I were an employer I'd opt for anyone offering me the higher exam standard, only common sense after all.
What it boils down to in the end is that our kids are being badly let down by the system, too much checking on their progress and not enough teaching. Education is still one of the few areas that UK politicians have free rein in away from EU control so the urge to meddle has to be pretty high. But a generation of well educated kids is vital to the countries future. And there's the rub, were I a conspiracy theorist, I'd put money down that this is the case, that politicians don't want a too well educated generation, after all people who can think are a danger to the political classes. So you educate a small elite and keep the rest tied down too poorly educated to mess with the process. Throw in a few foreign wars and add a mixture of a few immigrants who wont integrate and generally wind the local populace up and you have a heady mix of problems that keep them out of the way of politicians as they are too busy fighting amongst themselves.
I hope I'm wrong.

2 annotations:

WitteringsfromWitney said...

No, you're not wrong AQM, its called social engineering. Labour and the ConLibs have it down to a fine art!

James Higham said...

too much checking on their progress and not enough teaching

That's the nub of it.