Targets steal limelight from tables

27th November 1998 at 00:00
THE SEVENTH annual publication of school exam results passed off this week without, for the first time, the usual fanfare of a Government press conference.

The launch, presided over in the past by the Education Minister or the head of the Inspectorate, was merely marked by a press statement with exhortatory noises from both.

Helen Liddell, the minister, paid tribute to "the professional commitment" which has led to a rise in exam passes. The improvement, however, is more apparent at Standard grade than at Higher where a plateau in performance is once again evident.

Douglas Osler, the senior chief inspector, repeats the customary caution that should be exercised in considering other qualitative factors before judging a school.

The absence of any ceremony is said to be due to the fact that the tables are now such a well-established set of data that there is nothing new left to say. The advent of targets, set for each school in Standard grade and Higher, also means the tables are but one set of indicators of performance and no longer stand out on their own.

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