League table errors have consequences

7th April 1995 at 01:00
Our quest for truth and accuracy is faltering. An appalling error by an A-level exam board (apology received) deprived six of our history students of their correct grade last summer. Notwithstanding the serious consequences this had for their UCAS applications (two failed to achieve the places to which their revised grade entitled them), the full achievements of our students were not accurately reflected in the school performance tables.

An approach to the Department for Education was rebutted with a "tough luck" response. Booklets were already at the printers, "can't do anything now". I can just about accept that, so what about an erratum note to insert in the booklets (I recall receiving similar in 1993)? "Definitely not," said the DFE, whose letter in response was staggering in its implications. First, it complained about the impossibility of having to correct all the other errors from all the other schools (What errors? How many other schools?). Second, it invited me to publish the correct figures.

Sixth-form recruitment is a little sensitive in this area, and the heat which fuels local debate (thus influencing "customer choice") is stoked up by "league tables" (in this case, points score per student). If we must have these crude indicators, better that they contain accurate information. What response might I get to a school-produced circular which says: "Well, really the official DFE performance tables are wrong, we aren't worse than the two local colleges, we are actually a lot better than one and just about equal with the other. " Well I would say that, wouldn't I?



Honley High School



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