It is at this time of year that thousands of student teachers scan The TES in search of their first post - and that educationists, politicians and the public put league tables on the back burner until there are fresh statistics to analyse.
As a student teacher, I have recently noticed the league tables being brandished, highlighted and studied with vigour in the refectory and union bars. I am not averse to healthy discussion and sensible analysis. However, league tables appear to have become alternative prospectuses. All too frequently a school's ranking dictates whether student teachers reply to advertisements. As a result many candidates are applying only to the most academic schools which are highly placed in the tables, thus excluding new blood and talent from the institutions that may need them most.
It is well recognised that league tables in their current crude form are not good predictors of how a school improves an individual pupil, and that the value-added system is a more useful guide to performance in this respect. It is therefore particularly worrying that the very people who should be aware of this persist in using league tables in this way. Since they are applying for only highly-placed schools, questions must also arise about their motives and integrity.
Department of education
University of Keele, Staffordshire