TWO NEW league table indicators, covering science and modern languages, are to be introduced for secondaries over the next two years, it was disclosed this week.
From next January, schools will be ranked on the proportions of their pupils gaining a GCSE grade C or better in two or more separate sciences, double science or applied science.
And from 2009 the tables will also feature a column listing what percentage of each school's students gained a C or better in a modern language GCSE or equivalent qualification.
The new rankings do not replace any existing measure: separate indicators including value-added information, truancy rates and the key five or more good GCSEs including English and maths measure will be retained.
The move on science and languages may be an attempt to head off Tory claims that some secondaries have soared up the tables in recent years despite poor performance in traditional academic subjects.
Last year The TES revealed how some schools listed as among England's most improved had few pupils gaining good grades in subjects such as science, history, geography and languages.
Nick Gibb, the shadow schools minister, said: "It will make it more difficult for schools to artificially boost their league table positions by switching to softer GCSE options at the expense of academic subjects that are more useful to children in the long run."
John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "If we have to have league tables, then the more information they contain the better, so that the whole of a school's achievement is not reduced to a single figure."
For primaries, the only major change to next year's tables will be the introduction of a new key stage 1 to 2 contextual value-added measure.
This will assess the progress of pupils during key stage 2, taking into account how well they did at key stage 1 as well as a range of other characteristics including ethnicity, gender and social background.