Bottom of the Table?

Being so close to Blackpool, there are some who may be a little sensitive about the title above! However, I am not referring here to football but to the recent GCSE tables published by the Government.

Last week, it was interesting to see many top private schools towards the bottom of the Government rankings for GCSE results. It seems that many took that as a badge of honour as it flagged up the fact that they offer their students both GCSEs and (International) IGCSEs, the latter not being counted. Such schools, including AKS, choose IGCSEs for some subjects where they feel that examination is more appropriate, many seeing them as a more rigorous alternative to the traditional exams. At AKS, we have chosen IGCSEs for English, maths, science and MFL.

The Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) has noted the absurdity of league tables that exclude IGCSEs. It is a reminder of how careful we should be when viewing such lists for educational results. Whilst it is nice to have a high ranking, a school’s position may not always reflect the quality of teaching and learning. The student intake or the ability of a particular examination year group can also significantly affect position. That is why, in education, we seek to measure ‘value added’ to see how each student performs against their own potential.

I am sure the debate about the Government’s league tables will go on. However, to return to Blackpool’s position at the bottom of the Championship table, every cloud has a silver lining. If they are relegated, I can watch my own team, Gillingham, play at Bloomfield Road!

Mike Walton
Headmaster