Teachers play the system to hit league table and exam targets, says report

The Observer is claiming an unpublished Ofqual report suggests more than two-thirds of teachers have considered the performance of their school in league tables when choosing which subjects to offer pupils…

Four out of five have focused their efforts on borderline “C” students because the numbers of pupils gaining grades A-C are the key to success in such tables. And nearly two-thirds have sought out “easier” exam boards to achieve success, the report finds.

The findings are contained in a 47-page document prompted by evidence seen by Ofqual suggesting that teachers and schools were playing the system, and in some instances cheating to attain professional success…

Among the findings, consultants hired by Ofqual reported that 25% (133 respondents) said they had experience of pupils being removed from the roll to boost results. Similarly, 21% cited experience of “schools finding ways to pick and choose the pupils they take in”.

Nearly half (49%) experienced student qualification choices being steered towards those they will perform well in, rather than those they enjoy or those that would aid future employment.

The report quoted one teacher as saying: “Too much is done because heads are scared into meeting targets so staff are bullied into going above and beyond and at times do ‘unacceptable’ things because of the pressure of no excuses.

“Children are bullied, bribed and humiliated to meet targets … Offered money, picked up out of their house on a Saturday to come to school…”

More at: Teachers play the system to hit league table and exam targets, says report


See also: Secret Teacher: we help students to cheat, but how long before it’s exposed?


I think there is a difference between playing the system and cheating, but it’s hard to see how any of this is helping our children. 

The obvious implication is that it is the system that is flawed. 

But more broadly, how do you overcome the desire to improve schools (and let’s be clear, some are much better than others) without creating assessment systems that result not in genuinely improved learning but instead in ways of gaming them to get the desired results?


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Categories: Policy.


  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Schools have no choice over this: funding & Ofsted judgements based solely on exam results/data. Silly to suggest otherwise

  2. Nor_edu

    SchoolsImprove I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: edu has to be about the children, NOT the adults…

  3. The OECD warned in 2011 there was too much emphasis on exam results in England and this risked negative consequences such as teaching to the test and ‘gaming’.  The warning was ignored and the situation is now worse.  Education is the worse for it.
    One answer is to remove the emphasis on exams at 16 and move towards graduation at 18 as I explain here: http://schoolsweek.co.uk/lets-move-towards-graduation-at-18/


    years ago league tables may have served to guide parents trying to choose a good school
    for their children but now 82% of primary schools and 71% of secondary schools
    are rated by Ofsted as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.Most families have at most two or three local schools to choose from and
    the Ofsted reports on these are readily available on the internet giving
    detailed, if stereotyped, information on schools.But even better is for parents to visit these
    local schools and talk to parents of young people already there.
    a time of cutbacks on government expenditure school league tables should be a
    prime candidate for the guillotine.

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