Head blasts school league table move

In the picture of the cheque presentation are (L to R) Danny Murray (DCRO), Bill Whitehouse (Chairman, DCRO), Dan Hopkinson (Waitrose), Alan Brentnall (Secretary, DCRO).
In the picture of the cheque presentation are (L to R) Danny Murray (DCRO), Bill Whitehouse (Chairman, DCRO), Dan Hopkinson (Waitrose), Alan Brentnall (Secretary, DCRO).

A THORNTON headteacher has accused the Government of “moving the goal posts” as a new league table measure is introduced which prizes Ancient Greek and Hebrew but not religious or business studies.

The new English Baccalaureate, which is a set collection of GCSE passes, was included in this year’s secondary school league table.

The tables show what proportion of a school’s pupils got at least a ‘C’ in English, maths, science, a language and either geography or history at GCSE.

Michael Gove, Education Secretary, has said the move shows which schools give pupils a core academic knowledge.

But headteachers say it is unfair to bring the measure in so quickly and before the planned shakeup of the curriculum goes ahead.

Some have concerns it will see pupils pushed into more academic routes of study, when this is not necessarily the best choice for them.

This was one of the concerns raised by Sean Bullen, head teacher at Millfield College of Science and Performing Arts in Thornton.

Mr Bullen said: “It’s a scandal to publish results for a qualification that did not even exist when the students took their examinations last summer. “This is a big case of moving the goal posts, it would be like making Blackpool Premier League Champions because they have more English players than anyone else three months after the season has finished!

“Secondly, there is the issue of choice, should schools be forced to encourage students to do one set of subjects, at the expense of others?

“Who has the right to say that History, Geography and French, are more important than Engineering or Music?”

Elizabeth Warner, head teacher of St George’s High school in Marton, said: “We aim to provide a high quality, relevant curriculum and English, maths and science have always been compulsory.

“We also feel breadth is valuable too, it’s a matter of opinion whether geography or Biblical Hebrew which are counted in the English Baccalaureate, are more valid than RE, Business Studies, ICT or Music which are not.

“Although we remain sensitive to what constitutes national expectation, no student at this school will ever be disadvantaged by our curriculum.”

Michael Gove has expressed a desire to sharpen the focus onto more traditional subjects.

He believes some schools have boosted their league table positions in the past by entering students for what he considers are “softer” subjects and vocational qualifications.

Schools have also been measured against the existing key target of the percentage of pupils achieving five good GCSE passes including maths and English.