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League tables? Who cares?

FLAGSHIP reforms to improve parental choice such as publishing league tables and inspection reports have had little impact on the way families choose schools.

Parents of the first generation to study the entire national curriculum and sit national tests have been left unmoved by a series of major Acts, says new research.

They have failed to make use of Ofsted reports and exam tables to decide which school to send children to, and increased testing has largely passed them by. After 15 years of reforms, they still feel schools are "not bad".

"The only league table that matters is the Premiership," one father told researchers from Bath university. The findings - based on follow-up interviews with parents originally surveyed in the late 1980s and early 1990s - were presented at last week's EERA conference.

The Bath team was only able to track down 13 parents from the original study of 138. However, they also spoke to 10 of the children - who are now over 18 and have left school. Dr Felicity Wikeley warned the follow-up group was small and excluded the poorest as it had proved impossible to track down parents at the most deprived school in the original sample.

But it seemed that, for all the inspections and league tables parents still chose secondaries for the same reasons they had chosen primaries - "location and relationship with the community" not formal academic record.

"Parental involvement in a time of transition", by Felicity Wikeley, Bath university Email: f.j.wikeley@bath.ac.uk

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