The Game is Up on League Tables

The UK Government has officially recognised that league tables encourage “gaming” by schools to improve their results and ranking. In an article in The Telegraph the UK Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, said that league tables have evolved over the past 20 years in a way that encourages a degree of “gaming” by schools.

The Minister said that many schools focus on lifting the results of “borderline” students on the cusp of scoring a C grade, which is a good pass on the General Certificate of Secondary Education. He said that GCSE results since 1997 have shown a dramatic increase in the proportion of C grades being awarded as schools have sought to inflate their results to gain higher rankings.

Mr. Gibb said that this tactic comes at the expense of B students who might, with more attention, achieve an A and E (failing) students who could get a D. He announced that schools which manipulate their results in this way will be “named and shamed” in future. He said:

We are determined to stamp out any incentives to “game” the system whereby some schools focus just on those pupils who will affect their league table position. It is vital that all schools give every pupil the best chance to maximise their potential.

The new tables to be published this week have a column showing the progress of the bottom third of students throughout their secondary education. A column shows the proportion of these children who went on to achieve five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C. Schools can be compared as to how much they help children who started from a low base. The tables now also allow comparisons of schools on the progress of high achieving students.

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