League tables are ‘nonsense’, say private schools

The TES is reporting that independent school leaders have attacked official league tables as “a nonsense” after a rule change sent their GCSE scores plummeting…

According to government data released today, the proportion of private school pupils achieving the main five A*-C GCSEs, including English and maths, nearly halved from 54.4 per cent in 2013 to 28.4 per cent this summer.

But the Department for Education (DfE) has admitted that this “large change” is mainly down to its decision to stop counting IGCSEs that have not been regulated by Ofqual in the league tables.

Independent schools have made extensive use of the qualifications and say they were not warned properly about the change.

Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council, said: “Many of the best, highest achieving schools in Britain are listed by the DfE as the worst performing.

“It is really up to the DfE to decide whether they wish to live with such nonsense.”

IGCSEs were originally introduced for the overseas market in 1988, but have also seen increasing use in England’s independent schools in more recent years.

In 2010 it was decided to bring in new versions, regulated by Ofqual and brought more into line with GCSEs, so that state schools could also use them. The government said the original unregulated IGCSE would also count in league tables – but only for two further years.

Mr Lenon said schools had been told about the change but because the email was sent during summer holidays only “about 5 per cent” of his members had seen it.

However, he said most independent schools would not be unduly worried about the league table change as they had been prepared to use IGCSEs before they first counted in performance measures…

More at: League tables are ‘nonsense’, say private schools


Is Barnaby Lenon right in suggesting this change makes a mockery of league tables? And is the DfE right or wrong to have excluded IGCSEs from counting towards them? Please give us your feedback in the comments or via Twitter…


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Categories: Private Schools.


  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove League tables are completely toxic and are slowly destroying education in the UK. Who invented them? Politicians

  2. stevesheehan52

    SchoolsImprove agree with them. Welcome to the world of the state schools that have suffered arbitrary goalpost shifts for years

  3. Janet2

    Too much emphasis on exam results in England has negative consequences such as ‘gaming’, teaching to the test, ignoring other skills and causing some schools to deter applications from pupils likely to bring down league table position, said OECD in 2011.  Gov’t ignored this – increased emphasis on the results while moving goalposts and ‘reforming’ exams at the same time.

  4. NWaller

    I know of  a state school that entered pupils for the IGCSE in English and the standard GCSE. Pupils scored one to two grades higher on the IGCSE. Perhaps that is part of the reason why private schools are so keen to continue with them.

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