Parents should create their own bespoke school league tables from exam results and extra data soon to be published on the internet, ministers said this week.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said he wanted to create greater transparency and end parents' dependence on the measures of school performance that Government decides to use.
But parents groups and teaching unions have given the plan a sceptical reaction, warning that it would increase the divide between society's "haves and have-nots" and leave parents bewildered by the sheer quantity of data.
Mr Gove said: "As well as reforming exams to make them more rigorous we need to change league tables to make them more effective.
"I'm determined to publish all the exam data held by the Government so that parents, schools and third parties can use web-based applications to create many new and bespoke sorts of tables."
He said in November, while in opposition, that some exam data was "kept secret" by the Government.
This week the Department for Education was unable to say exactly what data he was referring to. But sources said it could be made available on the web as early as January.
"This will mean (parents are) not dependent on the measures that the Government decides to use and also that there is complete transparency about the qualifications our young people are taking," Mr Gove said.
But he also suggested that the Government changed its own chosen measure of school performance to something he termed an "English Baccalaureate".
This would look at what proportion of pupils in each secondary achieved five "good" GCSEs including English, maths, a science, a language - ancient or modern - and "a humanity like history or geography, art or music".
Mary Bousted, Association of Teachers and Lecturers general secretary, said the idea of parent created league tables "assumes a virtually insatiable desire on the part of parents for this kind of information and also that they are prepared to spend an incredible amount of time to repackage the information in different ways".
"But our evidence is that parents take results as just one element in the complex mix of factors when choosing a school," she said. "It also includes factors like the quality of a school's buildings and the standard of discipline."
Margaret Morrissey, founder of Parents Outloud, said: "This will work for some parents who are very IT literate but I don't think they are in the majority.
"This could widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots and what effect will it have on school places?"
DO YOU BACK THE BACC?
Essentially it is aimed at rewarding students who do a selection of "high value" subjects, including a language, geography or history, along with maths, English and a science. It could seriously raise the status of languages in schools where numbers have been falling.
I think this could (COULD!) be really positive. See also the other thread on whether its worthwhile learning a language.
That definitely sounds like a good idea then, and it could solve the problem of schools using mickey mouse vocational courses to make up their 5 A*-Cs if this were used instead.
I agree that mickey mouse courses need to be stripped from the 5 A-C. However, punishing children who don't get a GCSE language but do very well academically in other worthy subjects is not fair. Some children cannot access languages - especially to the level required to get a C.
- Original headline: Gove urges parents to go it alone and compile their own league tables