Executive's voyage of discovery

19th December 2003 at 00:00
Genies cannot usually be put back into bottles. So it is with the publication of exam results which are here to stay, in whatever form. Their new incarnation on the national parents' website significantly reaffirms the fact that school-level data was initially issued by the previous Tory government as part of its "information for parents" series.

The official intention is to inform parents more generally and, more specifically, to help them choose a school, switch schools, ask questions and maintain pressure on schools to improve. Since the new website is a rather clever attempt to publish but not be damned by the critics of "league tables", it has clearly tried to make it as difficult as possible to construct such tables. Parents, and the press indeed, who attempt to find out how their school is performing against other schools face a hard navigational voyage around the website.

That said, this is only a start, as the Executive itself acknowledges.

Primary schools, for example, have very little information to offer; even when the 3-14 assessment system is reformed following the consultations that end today, there will be no school-level test data and parents will simply have to access it via school handbooks or school websites. It is worth pointing out, however, that the whole intention here is to make exam results more proportionate: surveys of parents tend to show exam performance is not at the top of their priority list when it comes to judging a school.

We now have the potential to load every conceivable piece of information about a school on to the parents' website. The danger is not just about limited access to the Internet but about information overload. There is, of course, an old-fashioned alternative in approaching a school: lift the phone.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today