Subtracted value of model pilots

1st December 2000 at 00:00
I AM the examination officer for Hirst high school. In October I was contacted by an organisation called Forvus collecting exam data for the Department for Education and Employment for publication in the school league tables.

I was sent what they believed was an accurate account of our GCSE and A-level results. It was far from accurate and I spent a hectic few days analysing their data in order to send off the correct version. Hectic, because as always with the DFEE, the deadline for return was only a couple of days after the date of receipt of the request.

The corrected data I sent were totally ignored and you unfortunately published the wrong figures. Ironically our local paper congratulated my school for its improved results, the true picture is even better - 34 per cent of our Year 11 pupils were awarded five A* to C grades (not the 31 per cent you were told), 77 per cent five A* to G grades (not 76 per cent) and only 11 per cent with no passes (not 12 per cent). The Alevel picture is similarly distorted; the average points score for those with two or more A-levels is 16.3, not 15.6

Why ask me to check the data if my reply is to be totally ignored? I am led to believe that the reason for the discrepancies is that some of our pupils studied "new model pilot" courses. No one told us that the results would be worthless. My advice to any school thinking of trialling new courses would be not to bother - the DFEE thinks they have no value. I might add that it was the exam board that discovered this information, the response from the DFEE to all our enquiries so far has been totally non-existent.

The problem is that even if you do publish the corrected versions, no one remembers them. It is the original copy that sits on desks and kitchen tables and the damage is done. So much for league tables enabling parents to make a more informed choice.

Adrian Starr

Hirst high school technology college

Ashington, Northumberland

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