Government league tables ‘punish’ schools by failing to take pupil background into account

A fifth of secondary schools saw their league table position change by more than 500 places once pupil ethnicity, deprivation and special needs were taken into account, researchers found. The Independent reports.

The new study, from the University of Bristol, suggests that 40 per cent of schools currently judged to be underperforming would no longer fall into this category if these factors were considered.

Researchers say that the ranking system has led to the “wrong schools” being rewarded.

The analysis, of the 2016 data from all 3,098 state secondary schools in England, adds that league tables punish schools with a high proportion of disadvantaged students.

Dr George Leckie and Professor Harvey Goldstein, both from the University of Bristol, looked at the government’s headline measure, Progress 8, which assesses pupil progress across eight GCSEs.

Progress 8, introduced in 2016, has been deemed a fairer league table measure by the government as it takes prior attainment into account and removes the focus on the C/D grade borderline.

But critics have argued that it punishes schools with a higher proportion of disadvantaged pupils.

Dr Leckie said: “By factoring in vital information about a pupil’s background, we have seen a dramatic change in the league tables. This leads to very different interpretations and conclusions about education in England.

“It seems clear from our results that the higher the proportion of disadvantaged pupils in a school, the more it will effectively be punished for the national underperformance of these pupil groups.”

Read more Government league tables ‘punish’ schools by failing to take pupil background into account

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Categories: 1st POST, Exams, Learning, Primary, Research and Secondary.


  1. Anonymous

    Secondary League tables for the LA where I live:

    ‘Top’ school : pupils entitled to free school meals 1.8%

    ‘Bottom’ school : pupils entitled to free school meals 42%

    I have no connection to either school, so this isn’t sour grapes. It’s time the government took action to remove iniquitous league tabling from the education scene. It’s damaging and demoralising.

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