Schools do well in controversial tables

NATIONAL primary school league tables have been published today with calls again being made for them to be scrapped. Suffolk students have recorded their best ever results in maths at Key Stage 2, according to the controversial tables published by the Department of Education and Skills.

NATIONAL primary school league tables have been published today with calls again being made for them to be scrapped.

Suffolk students have recorded their best ever results in maths at Key Stage 2, according to the controversial tables published by the Department of Education and Skills.

However the performance tables, which The Evening Star does not run in full due to the extra pressure they place on already over worked teachers and worry they cause to parents and schoolchildren, are not popular with some headteachers and union officials who say they are unnecessary.

Philip Illsey, Suffolk branch secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "I feel that the league tables are worthless because they do not contextualise schools at all.

"League tables are nto a useful tool for parents to sort out the best schools and it can be very demoralising for staff and pupils."

Eddie Green, headteacher at St Margaret's Primary School in Bolton Lane, Ipswich, said in an ideal world the tables would not exist.

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He said: "I, along with others, applaud the policy of The Evening Star not to publish the tables. My understanding is that St Margaret's has done well in the league tables and achieved some good results so obviously I am pleased about that.

"However, these tables are an unnecessary pressure on teachers. We know that they will be in the public domain and people will look at how we are doing. But we keep a sense of proportion about them."

Mr Green said that some children would never hit the targets set by the Standard Assessment Tests (SATS) but it was important to give every child the same opportunities to do well.

He added: "We offer an all round, balanced curriculum so pupils fulfil their full potential, which is far more important.

"There is a danger with these tables that they will narrow the curriculum. As professionals we are constantly reviewing our own performance and seeking ways to do things better. We do not need this pressure."

Tim Beech, regional organiser for the eastern region for the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASWUT) said the tables and tests are an impediment to progress and running of schools.

He said: "You tend to get good results in affluent, better-off areas and schools lower down the tables from socially challenged areas. It stands in the way of making progress.

"We would urge parents to go to schools, and find out more before making a decision based on indicators which are only part of what goes on in schools.

Mr Beech said schools should decide when to assess pupils.

He added: "The purpose of these exams should be to assess the child. They should not be at fixed times each year. The assessment should be to help students not to judge the school."

The SATS, which measure how well pupils are performing at age 11, show that there was a 2 per cent improvement in the number of pupils reaching the expected level, level four and above, in 2004. 71 pc of pupils reached this level in maths, compared to 69pc in 2003. The national average is 74pc.

Tony Lewis, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for children and young people, said: "A lot of effort has gone into making sure that our young people have the core skills they need to succeed in later education, and these results show that we are generally making progress in these areas."

There was also a 2pc improvement in English scores, with 77pc of pupils reaching level four or above in 2004, compared to 75pc in 2003. The national average is 78pc.

Science continues to be the best subject in Suffolk measured by these tests, although the 2004 results did drop slightly from last year, by 1pc, with 85pc of pupils reaching level four or above. The national average is 86pc.

Cllr Lewis added: "We will of course continue to target our experts at those areas where we would like to see more improvement."

The performance tables for schools in Suffolk are available on the DfES website at www.dfes.gov.uk/performancetables

What do you think? Should league tables be published? Do the tables just add pressure on teachers?

Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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