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League tables fail to inform, say colleges

Colleges launched a broadside at Government performance tables this week, arguing they completely fail to give young people the information they need.

A paper from the Association of Colleges condemns the annual GCSE and A-level tables for failing to cover the vast majority of college courses - giving a narrow view of the world of further education.

The AOC report to ministers says: "The main purpose is described as being to help young people approaching the need of compulsory schooling to make informed choices about what and where to study next.

"The Association of Colleges continues to believe that the tables do not properly meet their defined aims. The knowledge that a wider choice of institution is available can be as valuable a basis for decision making as the level of results."

Sixth-form and further education colleges notched up an average 17.3 points for students taking two or more A-levels, falling below the 18.6 point average for school sixth forms.

College leaders warned against direct comparisons, arguing that the open access nature of further education tended to push down the college average.

Top-performing colleges outstripped the top-of-the-league comprehensives, however, adding fuel to the debate over possible reorganisation for post-16 organisation. Ministers have indicated that the growth of new school sixth forms may stop - and small sixth forms may close in favour of college expansion.

The AOC is pressing for a reform of the tables to give a better view of the range of students taught in FE. According to the association only 60 per cent of the qualifications started by college students under 19 are covered by the tables.

Performance tables 52-page pull-out

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