More league table madness as another “measure” is applied retrospectively

Janet Downs's picture
There’s a new measure in this year’s school performance tables. It’s based on the percentage of A level pupils who get 3 A levels AAB in “facilitating” subjects. These are: Mathematics and Further Mathematics, English (Literature), Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, History, Languages (Classical and Modern). The Government justifies this by saying these are the subjects most required by Russell Group and other “top” universities. In other words, the Government only values education which gains access to these universities. It regards education which leads to lesser institutions, apprenticeships or directly into employment as second-best. And anything outside this “facilitating” core is of lesser value.

The Government didn’t announce its “intent” to include this measure in the 2012 league tables until 30 July 2012. But like the EBacc it has been applied retrospectively. And will be again next year even though pupils taking A levels in 2013 are half-way through their courses.

The BBC reported that Joy Mercer, director of policy at the Association of Colleges, said that ''the achievement of these three A-levels was a "blunt descriptor" and that would give a poor reflection of colleges and sixth form colleges where students were encouraged to combine vocational qualifications and A-levels within a very demanding programme'.

No doubt this new measure will result in many schools persuading pupils that they should take these “facilitating” A levels instead of creative or technical subjects. They should resist. A school’s first responsibility is to its pupils and it should not push them into subjects which may be unsuitable because this is thought to be more likely to result in league table glory.

“Pupils first – league tables last,” should be the new mantra for all schools not just at 18+, but 16+ and 11+.

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