A Jabberwockian world

21st June 2013 at 01:00

Her Majesty's Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw's latest pronouncements on non-selective state school underachievement in England undoubtedly deserve attention, although the ever-present statistics do raise queries. His report states that only 35 per cent of students from non-selective schools who attained the high-performing level 5 in mathematics and English at the end of their primary school education, aged 11, went on to achieve top A or A* grades in their GCSE examinations in 2012, aged 16. By contrast, that figure was 59 per cent in academically selective schools.

Leaving aside the fact that in the often Jabberwockian world of Sats test levels, a level 5 in a primary school (for 4- to 11-year-olds) is not necessarily the same as in a secondary school (for 11- to 16-year-olds) and students may well have been coached, is it not possible that many of the children who entered academically selective schools deprived non-selective schools of that talent and that we are not comparing like-for-like intakes? Or am I being guilty of lese-majesty in questioning Sir Michael?

Tony Roberts, Admin and communications secretary, Lancashire branch, NAHT headteachers' union.

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