Headteacher condemns new addition to school league tables
SECONDARY schools in the district have achieved some of the best exam results in the country but a headteacher has warned that new performance measures threaten to undermine their achievements.
Many schools in the district achieved well over the national average of 55.2 per cent A*-C grades at GCSE with three independent schools in the area rated among the top 200 schools in the country.
But the headteacher of St George’s School, Norman Hoare, maintains that a new government measure will affect the standing of schools in the district and confuse parents.
As of this year, the tables reveal the percentage of pupils achieving A*-C passes in English, maths, two science subjects, a modern or ancient language and history or geography.
Pupils who achieve those grades will receive the new English Baccalaureate certificate and the government hopes to turn this into a qualification in the future. For schools which offer a broader curriculum with a focus on vocational subjects, the performance indicator could severely affect their rating.
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Mr Hoare said that despite St George’s School doing extremely well with its results, the change threatened schools across the country which had striven to provide an education that prepared young people for the modern world and he wanted to take it up as a matter of principle.
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He said: “It’s another way of judging schools without full consultation. It’s a sinister way in which the new government is trying to influence the secondary curriculum.
“Headteachers across the land are really cross about this and it’s a concern for many of them that parents will draw the wrong conclusion from these percentages.”
He criticised the decision to leave out subjects such as economics, business studies and ICT and questioned how some schools would fare under the new measure when languages had been dropped from the compulsory curriculum years ago. As such there are many schools that now offer languages as an optional subject at GCSE.
Of the 15 schools in the district, just five of them had 50 per cent or more of their students achieving five A*-Cs in the subjects that come under the Baccalaureate.
The retrospective measure is intended to inform parents about what is going on in schools but it’s a factor that schools have been unable to control and it is estimated that nationally, just one in six pupils met the new government target.
For Mr Hoare though, the move is “unfair” and could leave schools exposed to criticism with the eventual consequence being a more narrow curriculum that does not prepare pupils for the challenges of the modern world.
Another anomaly in the new system has been thrown up at St Albans High School for Girls which achieved 100 per cent A*-C grades but its achievement was not visible on most league tables because students study IGCSEs in English and Maths, which are not included.
Its GCSE results put the school as the highest achieving in the area and in the top 200 schools in the country, along with St Albans School and St Columba’s College, which achieved 99 per cent and 98 per cent respectively.
The majority of schools in the area scored well above the national percentage of pupils achieving A*-C at GCSE, which is 53.4 percent.
A-Level and AS results were also very high across the board with St Albans School, St Albans High School for Girls and Sir John Lawes scoring particularly well.
On average, pupils at schools in St Albans made more progress from Key Stage 2 to 4 than those nationally, with pupils at Sandringham School making the best progress.