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Sunday, 22 February 2009

League Tables

By looking at school league tables, everyone can make their decision on which school is the best/worst. Sure, if you type in 'School league tables' in Google, you'll be inundated with links to school league tables. However how reliable are they?

Many media outlets (BBC, The Times, The Guardian...) produce league tables after GCSEs and A-Levels results every year. Every School in England must submit their results to the Government and they produce a leagues table as well. Many of us just rely on the media outlet. However as media tables are entirely voluntary, more and more (especially Independent schools) are refusing to submit their results. The list can be found here. Many schools withheld their results because they felt it put too much pressure on their students and teachers to perform well. It may also allow prospective parents and the general public to misjudge the school prematurely.

Another major fallback is because many Independent Schools use the IGCSEs. Although IGCSEs are much harder than normal GCSEs, it is not accepted on the league tables and many 'top' schools would now be ranked along with the nation's worst performing schools.

From The Independent:
Leading private schools are critical of today's GCSE league tables as they plummet below some of England's worst-performing comprehensives. Some of the most famous schools in the world including Eton, Harrow, Winchester and St Paul's are rooted at the foot of official rankings because of a technicality.According to the tables, no pupils at almost 100 schools achieved five GCSEs at grade C or above, including maths and English.
But IGCSE is not recognised by the Government, which has effectively blocked state schools from offering the more challenging exam.
Schools that register "zero" on the league tables include Dulwich College, Manchester Grammar School, King's School Canterbury, Marlborough College and Oundle School. Most score 100 per cent if IGCSEs are included.
In my opinion, school league tables are a good indicator but one must never solely use the tables to make judgements. For example if a school performed excellently in one year but poorly in the next, this is unreliable and a school may have poor facilities. Therefore it is essential to take this into account beforehand. For schools that have decided to withhold their results; their results can be usually found on their website and if not, normally schools would be happy to disclose their results to you.
Overall, league tables remain a topic to be much discussed in the UK and it is a sensitive issue to schools.

Links to league tables:


The Times:


One site that I found that includes IGCSE results, however no state schools included:

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