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Are the league tables ‘absurd’?


Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 16 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have, to put it mildly, mellowed.

I'm not a believer in brushing the past under the carpet. I've written some offensive rubbish on here in the past: deleting it and pretending it never happened doesn't change that. I hope that stumbling across something that's 16 years old won't offend anyone anew, because I hope that people can understand that what I thought and felt and wrote about then is probably very different to what I think and feel and write about now. It's a relic of an (albeit recent) bygone era.

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

  • My views may well have changed in the last 16 years. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find cringeworthy today.
  • This post might use words or language in ways which I would now consider inappropriate, offensive, embarrassing, or all three.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken, and embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

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 196th post was filed under: News and Comment.

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