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League tables- bullshit?

(94 Posts)
3amEternal Fri 26-Aug-16 07:51:55

Just musing on all the results boasting going on by all the local schools in the local rag and on Facebook. The league tables will be published this week. League tables were really low down on the list of reasons we had for selecting a school. Sure it's important to see the exam results but the league tables offer no context to the entry criteria for their pupils. Of course highly selective schools both state and independent (some who aggressively weed out at various points) are going to be higher in the league tables. Doesn't necessarily reflect the teaching or pastoral care. When we were looking around last year I was surprised at how many parents were league table obsessed above everything else. DD sat for independents and many of the families on offer days hadn't even bothered to visit until then! I was sceptical about the pastoral care of schools that aggressively maintain their league table positions by weeding out children that they themselves thought good enough a few years ago. Thoughts?

GnomeDePlume Fri 26-Aug-16 08:02:36

The thing the league tables give are facts. This is what the school has achieved. Yes, there will be context but pre league tables many schools (and I went to one) traded on former glories, were able to manipulate the information which went out into the public arena.

I agree that context is important but if you go to look at a school you can take the league table results as a starting point then when you visit the school you can ask about context. You can think whether that context explains the results.

My DCs' school league table result is poor. Last year, 35% A*-C. That was an unavoidable fact which couldnt be explained away by context. The only school in town so it should be achieving, give or take, the average. It didnt so yet another head has moved on.

3amEternal Fri 26-Aug-16 08:12:28

I guess you're right Gnome and there is some usefulness in seeing that schools are achieving at least average or above average for their intake. I suppose I'm more thinking about schools higher up the league tables. One might be 50 places higher than another but can be explained by being much more selective at intake or weeding out aggressively. But parents will clamour for those schools as they are believed to be 'better'.

KittyVonCatsington Fri 26-Aug-16 08:32:28

It is very naive to think that current league tables can't be "manipulated" and aren't grin

Just one example: School 1 is top of the borough league table. School 1 is only top of the league table as it forces pupils to only take EBACC subjects and withdrawing pupils from subjects they don't think they will get a C in and keeping them in isolation during those new timetable breaks.

School 2 got just as many excellent grades, but allowed their pupils to take subjects not in the EBACC (like Latin, Astonomy, iGCSEs etc.) hence they don't have as many points. No pupils withdrawn from courses-all given a fair chance.

There are many other examples of how league tables are manipulated by some schools

Blindly going by league tables without fully understanding them is madness in my opinion but so very common. League tables cause more problems than they solve.

3amEternal Fri 26-Aug-16 08:40:12

Exactly Kitty. If you put any crude competitive system in place someone will work out how to manipulate it. I think some children are disadvantaged because of this, and that isn't good.

Lunde Fri 26-Aug-16 08:49:38

There is a lot of league table manipulation. I know of at least one highly selective school that will not enter certain candidates - instead they are entered as "external candidates" at another school/college so that their results do not impact on their actual school's results.

Also league tables do discriminate against schools that take pupils with additional needs who may never get A*-C at GCSE

noblegiraffe Fri 26-Aug-16 08:54:09

What do you mean league tables will be published this week? Secondary league tables won't be published till January.

They also provide information about value added, and Progress 8 in January is another measure to show how kids do given their starting points.

It's parents that just care about the headline figures, other measures are available!

3amEternal Fri 26-Aug-16 08:54:27

No, really? Do name and shame.
Yes league tables are a punishment for schools to take or keep children with SEN, mental or physical health problems.

Muskey Fri 26-Aug-16 08:56:02

Crikey Lunde. I must admit when I was looking at schools for dd the league tables were my first port of call. However what was more important was actually going to the schools to see what it felt like. Were kids happy were they engaged etc

3amEternal Fri 26-Aug-16 08:56:36

I think it's the Telegraph league tables. Parents applying for schools in the autumn will be looking at those. State school league tables are of course often more transparent and give more detail but those ones come out later.

Lunde Fri 26-Aug-16 08:59:51

Another thing that I personally consider a scam is the practice of a highly selective private school near where my brother lives. Secondary places are awarded based on the results of a rigorous entrance exam so only the most academic kids are selected who are very high achievers most of whom are scoring 95%+ on tough academic tests.

However in the first year of secondary school parents are encouraged to have their children screened by a private educational psychologist that works with the school. Suddenly these highly academic kids are are "diagnosed" with all manner of SEN problems and the school applies for extra time for GCSE/AS/A level exam

3amEternal Fri 26-Aug-16 09:01:07

One of my daughters offer letters stated that condition of staying in the school was that pupils maintained their levels of academic achievement (or along those lines). I didn't pick that one. Tales abound of parents furiously tutoring outside of school to keep up. What if the child gets sick or has a bereavement or another set back? Ruthlessly kicked to the kerb?

prh47bridge Fri 26-Aug-16 09:21:50

Sure it's important to see the exam results but the league tables offer no context to the entry criteria for their pupils

That's true if you only look at the exam results but the league tables also included a measure of value added. This looks at the progress pupils have made. A school with a low ability intake will do well on value added if its pupils do better than expected at GCSE (i.e. they achieve better results than would be predicted based on their primary school performance). Similarly a school with a high ability intake will get a poor value added score if its pupil don't do as well at GCSE as expected.

League tables are not perfect but I think it is better for parents to have this information.

GnomeDePlume Fri 26-Aug-16 10:03:11

League tables are not perfect but I think it is better for parents to have this information.

Absolutely agree with this. In the era when I was at school no reliable information was available to parents.

If you think schools manipulate data now it is nothing compared to what was wholesale blatant lying in the past.

minifingerz Fri 26-Aug-16 14:13:28

I personally believe that school league table results primarily reflect the pupil intake. Schools with high numbers of children from professional families and second generation Indian, African and Chinese generally get pretty good results and will be high in the league tables.

Schools whose intake mainly comes from non-professional working class white families will be at the bottom of the league tables. Selective schools get better results because they tend to have vastly fewer of these children.

BertrandRussell Fri 26-Aug-16 14:18:15

Are we talking private or state here?

GnomeDePlume Fri 26-Aug-16 15:30:10

minifingerz, really? Bottom of the league table? I would say that a school with an average intake (ie no distortion because of grammar schools) and no other school in the town should achieve something like average GCSE results.

BertrandRussell Fri 26-Aug-16 15:34:04

"Schools whose intake mainly comes from non-professional working class white families will be at the bottom of the league tables."
Really?

3amEternal Fri 26-Aug-16 15:47:26

private or state?

I think both sectors are known to manipulate things for the league tables. So either.

GnomeDePlume Fri 26-Aug-16 16:36:28

Misrepresentation will take place. In the year that my DC's school achieved the dubious honour of being the second worst school in Britain the Head characterised the events which lead to this as a minor admin error anyone could have made. Rather than the monumental failure of management that it was part of.

Manipulation will also take place but the extent to which it can take place is limited.

gillybeanz Fri 26-Aug-16 16:40:40

Totally agree OP, however it was nice to see my dd school in top 100 when her siblings schools were in bottom 100.

It really doesn't make much difference, I agree.

pieceofpurplesky Fri 26-Aug-16 16:45:29

January is when the league tables are published correctly. Schools are now listed by progress 8 so highly likely those pesky white working class schools will be at the top ...hmm

BertrandRussell Fri 26-Aug-16 16:48:53

I asked "private or state" because the state league tables certainly include the make up of the cohort- and "expected progress"

Chickydoo Fri 26-Aug-16 16:49:52

State school 2016 league tables are out now. Can't link on my phone, but if you google you will see the telegraph has a list up now

youarenotkiddingme Fri 26-Aug-16 16:54:22

My Ds school have made a massive post with the words RAISING STANDARDS in it about their amazing results. They were the same as last year and admittedly are just above national average.

What they don't post about is how they do that. Imo raising standards is not getting rid of Sen pupils and struggling pupils through managed moves and covering up knife crime.

If they kept the cohort they got - AN or not they would t get their amazing results. Instead they focus on budgets and results and happily fail the pupils that will potentially pull those down rather than meet them.

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