Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Topping School League Isn't the Only Issue

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Topping School League Isn't the Only Issue

Article excerpt

Byline: By Karen Wilson

League tables can be useful as a rough guide to the academic achievements of a school but parents who base their decision on exam results are not getting the whole picture.

Since league tables were introduced in 1991, they've been derided and praised in equal measure. Some say it is vital that schools are more open and that parents have access to every conceivable tool at their disposable to measure a school's success.

Others argued that raw results only tell a parent how selective a school is and that independent establishments were destined to dominate the top of the tree under such a system.

Whatever your view, there's no doubt that independent schools are beating the state sector in the exam stakes with most boasting A-Level passes at around 99pc.

So if a parent's shortlist consists of three schools, all with pass rates in the high nineties, the choice will no doubt boil down to other factors such as breadth of curriculum and location rather than league tables.

Dick Davidson, a spokesperson for the Independent Schools Council (ISC) says: "The value of league tables is very limited as they only tell you one thing about a school - and that's how well they did for exams in one particular year. A school which is very selective will always get better results.

"It's just as important, if not more important, for parents to get a feel for what kind of a school it is."

A recent survey by the ISC of over 5,000 parents showed that academic considerations were not the most important factor at all.

Factors such as respect for each other and for adults, good manners, class sizes and individual attention all scored more highly. Mr Davidson says: "The most important factor seems to be whether the school has an orderly community, one in which respect and discipline are present to create a better learning environment. …

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