Sunday, 25 May 2008

Obsessed with League Tables

The Daily Mail reports that Labour's obsession with league tables is damaging children's education. A damning international report has found that headteachers are overloaded with bureaucracy and their intense competition for high rankings is having a 'negative' effect on many pupils. Some schools are suffering worsening results as poor league table rankings send them into a 'vicious' downward spiral.

The preliminary findings from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development are a blow to the Government. They come shortly after the Commons' schools select committee warned that 'teaching to the test' is endemic.

The report looks at school leadership in 22 of the 30 developed nations that make up the OECD. It says that schools in England strive for a good reputation in order to attract 'gifted and high-achieving pupils'. The ranking by exam results is therefore 'extremely important to establish and protect'.

But the report notes the consequences of these league table rankings 'are often negative' for both the school and its pupils. While the tables favour schools that are already advantaged, less successful schools have to battle against a 'vicious circle'. This includes, a 'bad reputation, worsening atmosphere, decreasing identification of the pupils with their school, decreasing number of pupils, reduction of resources, decreasing job satisfaction and motivation among staff, lack of applications of well-qualified teachers, worse quality of lessons, decreasing pupil achievement and worse results in the league tables'.

The report adds: 'Different studies show that most headteachers disapproved of the great competitive pressure open enrolment and league tables had produced.'

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