In what is an interesting initiative, an alternative and independent school league table has been launched by a partnership of school leaders’ associations and an academy chain. The School Performance Tables were launched by United Learning, the Association of School and College Leaders, the National Association of Head Teachers and PiXL – a cross between a school leader professional association and an education consultancy.
The alternative school league table has been produced on the basis that current league tables are “too crude” and focus too much on the overhyped “C-D borderline” (currently schools are ranked by how many pupils achieve a C Grade at GCSE). The timing is interesting, given that the Government has recognised the “C-D” problem and are introducing widely welcomed new measures to hold schools to account by league tables – which will be in place from September 2016 (with some schools able to opt in from September 2015).
In theory, the independent optional league table could compliment the Government’s statutory system. However, the risk is that only schools that achieve a good set of GCSE results will want to sign up to the alternative league, as its focus is simply on overall academic performance. Meanwhile the Government’s plan is to rank performance in key subjects and pupil progress in those subjects. The four organisations involved will need to encourage as many schools as possible to sign up to prevent it from being seen as an elitist league table
Competition between schools has been proven to improve performance. But competition between the leagues that rank them has the potential for being confusing for the parents that these tables are aimed at. The four organsations will need to work with the Government and Ofsted to ensure that their best intentions do not muddy clear waters.