Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

League Tables Aren't Everything

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

League Tables Aren't Everything

Article excerpt

Byline: By Karen Wilson

Do parents put too much emphasis on league tables when choosing a private school? Karen Wilson examines the issues.

Choosing a private school is a very personal decision and many factors need to be taken into account ( but those who base their choice purely on league tables could be missing out on some excellent schools.

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. A quarter of all GCSE examinations entered by pupils at Independent Schools Council (ISC) schools received the top A* grade.

And more than half of all the GCSE entries this year won the top A* or A grades. Overall, more than 80pc of pupils at independent schools (including special schools) gain five or more GCSE passes at grades A*-C, compared with a national average of 49pc.

This summer's A-level results from ISC schools show that pupils achieved a near-perfect pass rate of 99.2pc while 44.3pc of entries were awarded the top A grade compared to the national average of 22.1pc.

So if a parent's shortlist consists of three schools, all with pass rates in the high 90s, 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. …

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