Wales to ditch league tables

Sue Learner

Teacher and parent opposition to school performance tables has persuaded the Welsh Assembly to abandon them, reports Sue Learner

TEACHING unions have welcomed the news that school league tables are to be scrapped in Wales, and are urging England to follow suit.

The move by the National Assembly for Wales follows a consultation exercise which found that Welsh teachers and parents are deeply opposed to the current system.

A major criticism of league tables is that they fail to acknowledge achievements in schools in disadvantaged areas.

Jane Davidson, minister for education and lifelong learning of the National Assembly for Wales, announced the abolition of secondary school league tables in Wales saying: "The National Assembly will stop publishing each school's results with immediate effect. That does not mean that we will hide the information from parents or the public. Schools will continue to publish their own results in their prospectuses and governors' annual reports."

Secretary of the National Union of Teachers Cymru, Gethin Lewis, said: "The NUT has always stated that the league tables were flawed, divisive, destructive and merely an expensive bureaucratic exercise."

Teaching unions now want England to follow suit. Deputy general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, Chris Keates, said: "Teachers in England will be understandably dismayed that now only the Westminster government still clings to the wreckage of the discredited league tables."

David Hart , general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "The NAHT has long maintained that the league tables give a distorted view of the performance of schools. By abolishing the league tables, schools will be able to work towards greater co-operation with each other.

"This decision will reinforce the determination of heads in England to fight for the league tables to be abolished."

Focus groups held by the Welsh Assembly found that parents in rural Wales rarely use school league tables as there is little or no choice of schools.

Parents who do use the tables in urban areas such as Cardiff or Swansea can contact the schools for their exam results. New "value-added" performance tables will include details of a school's facilities and the socio-economic background of its pupils.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Skills said: "The Government is committed to the continued publication of school performance tables in England. They are an important part of our drive to raise school standards and they provide valuable information to parents."

The DFES also restated its commitment to bringing in "value-added" measures to the tables and said the first will be published in 2002.

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