Education: Schools are in a whole new league

Councillor Judith Blake.

Councillor Judith Blake.

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Susan Press talks to opponents of new league table rules.

GOVERNMENT plans to change the goalposts when compiling school league tables have come under fire.

Under proposals agreed by Ministers, factors like social deprivation, ethnicity, and postcode will no longer be taken into account when comparing school results.

Teachers, unions and education chiefs in Leeds are warning the decision to scrap the CVA - Contextual Value Added - measure could tip the odds even further against staff and students in the most disadvantaged areas. The decision by Ministers ends five years of trying to give schools credit for the areas they serve and continues Government policy placing more emphasis on results.

But Tim Hales, Assistant Secretary of Leeds NUT, said: “We think it is a poor proposal to take out CVA but we also disagree fundamentally with the idea of league tables anyway.

“Schools should be judged on the work they are doing as they were in the days of the HMI Inspectorate, which gave parents a much better idea about real attainments and achievement.

“OFSTED goes some way towards that but is also based around results and SATS and contributes to the league tables.”

The NUT, which represents 3000 teachers across Leeds, fears the new guidelines will distort statistics so that improving schools miss out on staff recruitment and parental support.

Coun Judith Blake, Executive Member for Children’s Services, said: “All children are different with differing needs and abilities and this measure enabled schools and parents to see exactly how well they were doing with all variables taken into account.We know a child’s background will have an effect on their levels of achievement but by removing CVA the government will be removing the ability to see just how much progress is being made by pupils who may not achieve five grade A* to Cs but who have made fantastic progress.”

Headteacher Colin Bell has taken South Leeds Academy from bottom position in the Leeds league table to a “satisfactory” OFSTED verdict in the past six years.

He said: “Some of the kids here have actually over-achieved given the circumstancves they started in but the new system may not reflect that.

All the research shows that where there is poverty and deprivation that affects attainment levels.

“However, I chose to work in schools with challenges and I will carry on doing my best in the interests of students and staff.”

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