Union slams school league tables

NATIONAL secondary school league tables have today been described by a Suffolk union chief as 'increasingly irrelevant'.Published today by the Department of Education and Skills and based on last year's GCSE results and Key Stage 3 Standard assessment tests (Sats), taken by the county's 13 and 14 year olds, the performance tables remain a source of controversy among some headteachers and union leaders.

NATIONAL secondary school league tables have today been described by a Suffolk union chief as 'increasingly irrelevant'.

Published today by the Department of Education and Skills and based on last year's GCSE results and Key Stage 3 Standard assessment tests (Sats), taken by the county's 13 and 14 year olds, the performance tables remain a source of controversy among some headteachers and union leaders.

The Evening Star refuses to publish the tables in full, due to the extra pressure they place on already overworked teachers and worry they cause to parents and schoolchildren.

Martin Goold, secretary of the county's branch of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said: "We say this every year, they are increasingly irrelevant and should be stopped.


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"The performance depends very much on home and social background. The most deprived areas have the lowest scores therefore the tables are of very little significance."

He added: "We believe teachers should assess pupils. Teacher assessment is much more reliable than standardised tests."

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Kesgrave High School headteacher George Thomas is among those who think children are examined more than necessary.

He said: "If you look at these tables in isolation and you become judgmental you only get the tip of the iceberg.

"Schools across Suffolk have different circumstances and sometimes they can change. The tables do not show how effectively you use staff and resources, any headteacher worth his salt would be talking about the culture of the school and the development of the whole person.

"I think it is worse for primary schools but league tables can distort the education of children. We could survive without Key Stage 3 Sats, for example the English tests have been badly marked for years and the results are not reliable, the syllabus is also not appropriate."

A spokeswoman for education at Suffolk County Council said the tables showed an improvement in GCSE results for the fourth year running.

She said: "In 2004 the percentage of pupils gaining five or more GSCEs at grades A* to C was 57.3 per cent, this is higher than the national average of 53.7 pc and the highest ever in Suffolk. The results also show that 97.4 pc of young people in Suffolk are leaving school with at least one GCSE or an equivalent vocational qualification, compared to 95.9 pc nationally."

N What do you think of the league tables? Should they be scrapped? What do you think? 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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