Standards are better at bottom

12th January 1996 at 00:00
Your editorial of December 15 referred to the article I wrote in The TES on October 6, and said that I seemed unaware of the increasing gap between the better and less well performing schools at GCSE.

You referred to information given by Cheryl Gillan, education junior minister, in an answer to a written parliamentary question. From this information, you inferred - without being quite explicit how you had done so - that there had been a widening gap between the highest and lowest performing schools.

There are, of course, various ways of interpreting the available data. My own rather more optimistic conclusion was based on identifying the bottom and top 10 per cent of maintained schools in 1992 (in terms of their average GCSE point scores) and tracing the changes in performance of the same schools up to 1994. Over that period, the average A*-C performance of the bottom decile of schools increased by 5.6 percentage points, against 2.1 percentage points for the top decile. On this measure, lowest performing schools did improve their performance significantly more than the highest performing schools.

This conclusion is further supported if one looks at changes in the proportion of pupils gaining five or more A*-C GCSE grades. Thus, the proportion of pupils with five or more A*-C GCSE grades in schools around the bottom quartile point rose from 20.1 per cent in 1993 to 21.7 per cent in 1995, an 8 per cent increase. The corresponding movement, for schools around the top quartile, was a rise from 55.05 per cent to 58.45 per cent, an increase of 6.25 per cent.

Sir TIM LANKESTER

Former joint permanent secretary Department for Education and Employment

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now