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Test results a low priority for making choices

Only 15 per cent of Welsh parents are comparing schools' test or exam results before choosing one for their child, according to the TES Cymru poll.

National performance tables were dropped in Wales in 2002, amid concerns that they were resulting in unfair comparisons being made between dissimilar schools. A TES Cymru poll carried out in May showed two-thirds of parents would like to have them back. But for now they have to request results directly from individual schools if they want to make comparisons.

However, even in England, where tables continue, barely three in 10 parents claim to have consulted them. The proportion is much higher in London (43 per cent), where parents were also slightly more likely to say that test results had influenced their decision.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, middle-class parents were also more likely to pay attention to schools' test results. Less than a quarter of parents in social classes C2DE used them, compared to more than a third of parents in ABC1. Although Welsh parents said inspectors' judgments were less helpful when picking a school than its test results, they were more likely to read a school's Estyn report (13 per cent) than look at results (10 per cent).

In Wales, 70 per cent of parents did neither, compared to 54 per cent in England.

More than half of the parents in England and Wales who had not bothered to read inspection reports on their child's school or look at its test results still felt they should have a greater say in the way it was managed. "It is not clear how much effort they would be prepared to put in to influencing the running of their child's school," researchers FDS said.

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