Page 7, 10th December 1993

10th December 1993
Page 7
Page 7, 10th December 1993 — Tables: not the whole story

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People: John Patten


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Tables: not the whole story

The Government's "League tables" of school examination results, published last month, raised the ire of a number of schools. Here we reproduce comments from headteachers.

I AM EXTREMELY surprised and disappointed that the Catholic Herald should not just publish the GCSE results but go one step further than all the other papers I saw and publish them in rank order. As a newspaper supporting the Catholic faith with its belief in justice, peace and gospel values, I find this extraordinary. As the Head of a Catholic school I much prefer to believe in :o-operation rather than competiion. Your rendering of the GCSE emits is very much in the lines of ompetition, setting one school gainst another.

On the measure you use (5+ A-C tades) my school is not on the list, an had you used one of the other iossibilities which we were obliged o publish (5+ GCSE's at grades

1+ GCSE's at grades A-G, verage GCSE score) we could well .ave made your list. However I rould not have wanted to, but only lake this point to show how using he same information it is possible to ome up with a different top '100' if 'd wanted to do such a thing. At the nd of the day, parents are entitled

o information about a school and here is nothing about my school hat if asked I would not tell a arent.

However in terms of "league ables" there are far more imporint things concerning achievements han 5+ A-C's, especially in a .atholic school. If such a score is to be used, it can only be valid if it is based on a value-added index. In other words what has the school done in terms of achievements with its pupils? Furthermore such tables can only really be accurate if they also take into account the geographical locality of the school and the nature of the catchment area.

As a school with the best GCSE results in our catchment area in all the categories we were obliged to publish last year, and the best or second best this year, there is no doubt that some parents have used the league tables in school selection, judging by the dramatic increase in applications to my school. However we make it quite clear to all our prospective parents that the most important aspect of the school is its Catholic ethos and that should be the reason why they chose us, not because within our area, our results are outstanding. D J Roche, Headteacher,

Pope Pius X School, Rotherham, S Yorks.

I AM SURPRISED that a Catholic paper would seek to put Catholic schools in rank order on the basis of examination results, important though they are.

Our Catholic vision of education to and in the Faith, through devel

oping the whole person, cannot be measured in this way. I am all in favour of providing details of examination results, but the place to do this is within a school prospectus freely available to any inquirer, and also presenting the Catholic ethos and values of the school.

Those schools appearing in your tables are certainly to be congratulated on their splendid achievements. In many ways I am delighted to see any publicity which praises the good things about schools, as so often state-funded schools, and therefore by implication, their pupils and teachers, are denigrated in the press. However, I look to the Catholic press to be more perceptive than the secular daily papers as to the limitations of these performance tables. I am disappointed that the Catholic Herald has allowed itself to be led by the Government's agenda on reporting school performance in narrow league tables.

I am also annoyed that I am caught between disapproval of such tables on the one hand, and a need to do justice to the pupils and staff of my own school on the other hand, when such tables are published.

Fr M Williams SDB, Headteacher Thornleigh Salesian College, Bolton Lanes.

I CAN ONLY assume that the Catholic Herald was being mischievous by printing the 1993 GCSE results. I

certainly cannot believe that you have been seduced by John Patten's gospel rather than that which depicts the message of Jesus. one trick question in Our Lord's examination brought the riposte that we are to give to Caesar what is his and to God what is His. What a pity that the Catholic Herald has failed its examination on its interpretation of the Gospels.

In answer to your questions, I am obliged to comment that if Mr Patten could have found a better use for 228 tonnes of paper, then the Catholic Herald had no business to add to that mass by its own inap propriate contribution.

M G Nolan, Headteacher, St Bede's School, Scunthorpe, Humberside.

I HAVE SOME cynicism about the publication of league tables of examination results, which are a current feature of the policy of the Department for Education. The raw scores are not necessarily very helpful.

Nevertheless, if performance tables are to be published as in the Catholic Herald of 26 November 1993, the exclusion of Cuthbert Mayne School may need correction, to improve the accuracy of the tabulation.

Initially we could be overlooked as "the Catholic Herald here publishes an exclusive table of the top 100 state funded secondary schools in England and Wales that are listed as Catholic". Cuthbert Mayne School, Torquay, is a joint CatholiciAnglican VA Comprehensive School and so does not precisely meet your criteria for inclusion.

K H Thomas, Headteacher Cuthbert Mayne School Torquay, Devon

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