Head slams league tables changes

Date:22th October 2013. Jonny Mitchell, head teacher of Thornhill Community Academy, Thornhill, Dewsbury.
Date:22th October 2013. Jonny Mitchell, head teacher of Thornhill Community Academy, Thornhill, Dewsbury.

The headteacher of a school in Dewsbury has blamed government changes to the GCSE rating system for its league table performance.

Thornhill Community Academy headteacher Jonny Mitchell said the latest league tables were “almost meaningless this year”.

The figures showed the school had the fewest pupils achieving five A*-C grades at GCSE, including Maths and English, in North Kirklees.

But Mr Mitchell said the true figure should have been higher because some pupils’ results had been left out.

Recent changes to the way GCSE scores are measured meant that only pupils’ first attempt at a GCSE counted towards league table scores – re-sits were previously included but are no longer considered.

Mr Mitchell said some pupils’ results had been omitted because their first attempt was in an English literature exam which did not include the English language element.

He added that when the same pupils then sat a combined literature and language GCSE this was not included as it was classed as their second attempt.

Mr Mitchell said: “Although we are technically below the floor target, we are quite some way above it, as has been the case for the last four years consecutively.

“My only disappointment is that such figures are damaging to the future prospects of some schools who have been significantly hit by pointless tinkering with rules and regulations on what qualifications count.

“The Department for Education has stated that 2013/14 results are not comparable to other years, but this is of little consolation to pupils going forward.

“It is certainly damaging to the relevance of the tables themselves, which are almost meaningless this year.”

Education secretary Nicky Morgan has defended the government’s changes to school league tables.

She said: “For too long pupils were offered courses of no value to them and schools felt pressured to enter young people for exams before they were ready.

“By stripping out thousands of poor-quality qualifications and removing resits from tables, some schools have seen changes in their standings.

“But fundamentally, young people’s achievement matters more than being able to trumpet ever-higher grades. Now pupils are spending more time in the classroom, not constantly sitting exams, and 90,000 more children are taking core academic subjects that will help them succeed in work and further study.”