Some of the UK’s most widely respected historians, novelists and technological innovators have studied at Eton and Harrow over the years. The teachers at these esteemed institutions have placed great emphasis upon the importance of outstanding academic achievement. However, there has been widespread surprise among the educational fraternity as such respected private schools have been given particularly poor rankings in the Government’s recently released school league table. Serious questions have been raised about the exclusion of internationally recognised qualifications and changes to the examination system.

International qualifications deemed to be inferior

The prestige private schools have been prevented from maintaining their lofty status as the Government has refused to take account of IGCSE qualifications. Nicky Morgan, the outspoken education secretary, has defended the decision and claimed that IGCSEs are relatively easy and poorly regulated. These comments have been met with predictable disagreement by teachers and private school students. The headteacher of the Uppingham private school has said that the qualifications are an excellent grounding for students who are keen to excel in an increasingly globalised world. There is agreement among the student unions;, some of which are planning to include IGCSE results in the compilation of alternative school league tables.

Essential assessment of governmental change

Educational experts and concerned parents may be interested to hear that examination retake data has been excluded from the Government’s school league table. This has caused a considerable increase in the number of schools that attained poor rankings relative to the 2013-2014 school year. Headteachers across the country have claimed they are unable to assess relative educational progress as a result of such major changes. Those students who’ve managed to turn their act around after initial examination failure are also feeling aggrieved. Highly experienced educational professionals have commented there is a general feeling of discontent and pressure to make unnecessary changes.

A skewed reflection of educational achievement?

Despite the widespread criticism there is some positive news. A number of schools have attained high rankings as a consequence of significant educational improvement. The principal of the Webber Independent School in Milton Keynes was understandably delighted to find her school at the top of the new league table. However, some major teachers’ unions have claimed it’s time to recognise the value of international and vocational qualifications. Private school teachers have said there should be healthy competition when it comes to educational assessment.

Fairness and equality for all

It will be interesting to see the level of impact that altered school ranking system has upon the traditional educational elite. Some may be happy to be completely excluded from the government tables in the knowledge that their educational offerings are of the highest quality. Parents should be aware that government reports aren’t completely infallible. It’s essential to take account of other factors such as the quality of teaching and general life experience. The division of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ schools should, in my opinion, be based on a variety of factors including teaching standards and examination results but also essential life skills.



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