Media Watch

30th January 1998 at 00:00
If the Government really hoped to publish local primary performance tables without razzmatazz it was sadly disappointed. Perhaps it thought that if newspapers were forced to collate their own national lists they wouldn't bother.

Instead, many took delight in telling readers just how difficult a task it had been to compile the lists. A rather grumpy Times told of "persistance, often in the face of deliberate obstruction".

The Telegraph went so far as to take credit for suggesting league tables to the Tories in the first place, battling against the "the modern education Mujahidin" as it tries to stop readers getting information. After all, its readers are "pefectly capable of making allowances for local conditions; they don't need the Government to do it for them".

There was, as always, total agreement as to which were the best and the worst schools in the country - St Edmund Campion RC in Bridgford, Nottingham, and Arnhem Wharf, in Tower Hamlets, east London, respectively. Arnhem parents found themselves besieged in the playground, although the Mirror was most outraged that Arnhem, an 18-month-old showpiece, should have the audacity to "flunk" after costing taxpayers Pounds 3 million.

Arnhem should probably be relieved that the Daily Mail was free of "worst" lists this year.

There was much less agreement about how many primary schools there actually are, which may have had more to do with how many results each paper managed to get.

The Telegraph was not sure whether it had published the results of 13,000 or 13,500 schools depending on which page you read. The Times knew 15,000 schools took the tests last summer, but said it had just over 14,000 results - claiming to have published the results of "every qualifying primary school in the country".

The Sun thought the figure was more like 14,500 while the Mirror went for bust by saying there were 21,000 tested schools. There are in fact 14,645.

Nadene Ghouri

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