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Are the league tables ‘absurd’?


Warning: This post was published more than 12 years ago.

I keep old posts on the site because sometimes it's interesting to read old content. Not everything that is old is bad. Also, I think people might be interested to track how my views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured!

But given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views might have changed in the 12 years since I wrote this post.
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Many thanks for your understanding.

Are the league tables ‘absurd’? (BBC News)

In a word, ‘yes’.

And from now on, anyone who achieves a distinction in the ABC Certificate in cake decoration, for example, will get 55 points, compared to 52 for an A-grade GCSE.

I’m not an expert in cake decorating, so perhaps I’m misjudging this. Perhaps cake decorating is a very difficult skill which requires the same amount of training, learning, and general skill as a two-year mathematics qualification. However, I do know about IT and maths:

One school, for example, reported that the weekly lesson time taken up by GCSE maths, GCSE English and GNVQ information technology was the same: four hours.

Of the students taking them, 25% gained a grade C or above in English and 18% in maths – and 80% in the GNVQ.

Either the GNVQ was four times easier than the maths GCSE or its teachers were four times as good, he concluded.

But – “incredibly” – the GNVQ is worth the equivalent of four higher-grade GCSEs.

“So making the four hours per week studying IT sixteen times as effective in boosting the school’s league table position as the four hours spent studying maths.”

Is there something major I’m missing here, or has the education system in this country gone completely insane? Clearly, Stephen Twigg thinks I’m missing something:

This is a significant step forward in recognising the achievements of all pupils

I think he’d support an ‘Everybody Gets a Trophy Day’, too. I think the Independent Schools Council has got it more spot-on:

This is absurd … This is not even a case of trying to compare apples and pears: it is comparing apples with candy floss.”

This 197th post was filed under: News and Comment.

More posts worth reading

What I’ve been reading this month (published 6th November 2017)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 5th October 2017)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 3rd September 2017)

Photo-a-day 134: Livescribe (published 13th May 2012)

Blair admits mistake… or does he? (published 27th March 2006)

Family’s hell at bird flu deathbed (published 27th February 2005)

I’m coming home (published 2nd January 2012)

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