Wellington College is pulling out of league tables, says head

The Telegraph is reporting that Wellington College will no longer participate in the tables “to help teachers and pupils concentrate on learning rather than competing for higher places in the rankings”. 

Julian Thomas, who took over as the school’s headmaster in September, will tell parents this week that the school is withdrawing from league tables. Peter Green, headmaster at Rugby school, also said he would consider exiting the league tables, as he did in his previous school, Ardingly College. 

Many private schools favour International GCSEs instead of the standard GCSEs taken in state schools. However, they are not recognised by the government for the purposes of rankings, meaning schools appear at the bottom of the tables, despite receiving good results. 

Mr Thomas is also concerned that the focus on league tables can distort teaching in some schools by encouraging “teaching to the test”. 

“Increasingly the league tables have been irrelevant as they attempt to compare different qualifications. Consider the post 16 qualifications,” he said. “Students take A Level, IB and Pre-U. 

“In an attempt to make comparisons, league tables have created artificial tariffs and equivalences that are simply not valid…” 

“All of which makes the school league table – at least in its current form – much worse than an unnecessary distraction but, in fact, a key driver for poor educational practice…” 

More at: Wellington College is pulling out of league tables, says head


See the article from Julian Thomas from the Telegraph at: ‘Why Wellington will no longer feature in league tables’


Independent schools, in particular, where they take a high number of IGCSEs have their own reasons for pulling out of league tables, but what about the broader criticisms expressed here and the desire – expanded upon in the full article – for a different approach?

Please tell us what system you think would work for the various audiences and stakeholder in the comments below or via Twitter…

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Categories: Policy, Private Schools and Secondary.


  1. TW

    “school league table … – much worse than an unnecessary distraction but, in fact, a key driver for poor educational practice”

    Yep.  Pity that’s too difficult for the Westminster/Whitehall morons to understand.

  2. Julian Thomas is right when he says schools need to encourage ‘Skills such a critical thinking, problem solving, independent thinking and learning, leadership and creativity.’
    Somebody tell Nick Gibb – he thinks most of these are child-centre orthodoxy.  In his speech last week, he was particularly scathing about ‘inquiry learning’ and ‘authentic learning’ – pupils working on real-life problems.
    With schools ministers such as this we truly are stuffed.  http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2016/01/world-renown-think-tank-infiltrated-by-child-centred-orthodoxies-claims-minister

  3. Will Mr Thomas release Wellington Academy, the academy that Wellington College sponsors, from the iniquitous league tables?  What’s good for the College is surely good for the Academy.

  4. The OECD said in 2011 there was too much emphasis on league tables in England and this risked negative effects.  Mr Thomas has recognised these.
    The OECD report on basic skills published last week said England’s high-stakes exams at 16 caused problems.  A radical approach, it suggested, would be to ditch GCSEs and go for an English Bacc at 18.
    That’s something I’ve been arguing for – but I’d go further: graduation at 18 via multiple routes.
    My summery of the OECD basic skills report is here: http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2016/01/pertinent-comments-in-oecd-report-on-young-peoples-basic-skills-in-england-but-did-oecd-ignore-its-advice-to-use-underlying-data-with-caution

  5. ProfDanielMuijs

    SchoolsImprove for elite institutions always better to rely purely on reputation. Cements existing hierarchy w/o inconvenient facts.

  6. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove If state schools were allowed to pull out of league tables, they would. The tables show nothing of worth to anyone

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