Catholic Herald Educational Reporter
HEADMASTERS of the Catholic Public Schools spotlighted in this week's report on GCE A-level passes are unanimous in their reaction ; "Treat the whole survey with considerable reserve," they say.
-If a school is to he judged on the number of A-level passes it gets then we may as well all pack up," was the comment, typical of many, given by Fr. John Gillick. S.J.. headmaster of Beaumont.
The survey, compiled by educational sociologist John Wakeford For the Advisory Centre for Education, was published in the February issue of the Centre'smagazine Where. it covered 75 Public Boarding Schools in England and Wales.
IN TOP TWENTY A table from the survey listed the number of A-level passes in 1961-62 per 100 boys in each school.
Two Benedictine schools, AmpleFouth and Downside, come in the "Top Twenty" out of 75 schools. Ampleforth (53.3) tops the list. with Downside (47.6) standing at 11th place.
But Fr. William Price. 0.S.B., headmaster of Ampleforth, denied that his was a "cramming school". "We do not believe that exams are all important," he said. "our main concern is character."
"Far too much time is taken counting up A-level passes." said Fr. George Earle, S.J., headmaster of Stonyhurst (25.3 and placed 60th). "It should be taken into consideration that some schools go allout for a high number of A-level passes. others-such as Stonvhurst -tend to take a smaller number of subjects."
RELIGIOUS ASPECT A number of schools have been rather loosely assessed. Stonyhurst, for example. has recently increased the age at which boys are admitted to the senior school. "When the survey was taken," Fr. Earle told me, "we had two forms of 40 boys who were well under the public school age. These are now in the lower school. In addition. he added, we have nearly doubled the size of our second year sixth form in the past year."
Fr. John Morris. Inst.Ch.. headmaster of Ratcliffe College, Leicester (39.4 and 28th on list), said the figures should he treated with "considerable reserve".
While Fr. Gillick (Beaumont, 21.1 and placed 62nd) deplored the fact that the Report "appeared to ignore the religious aspect and character training qualities of ,he schools", he also pointed out that some figures quoted appeared to be inaccurate.
'ARTIFICIAL' This is another school where the survey has included prep. school boys. Boys are taken at Beaumont from 8} years. If the prep. boys were deducted the average A-level figure would be more like 31 per cent, Fr. Gillick told me.
"The whole thing is too artificial," he said. "It depends, too. on how the sixth form is worked. If a greater number of A-levels are taken in the 2nd year 6th and not so many in the 1st year 6th, this will reduce the school's average."
Another school which has a genuine grouse is Mount St. Mary's, Leeds (12.7 and placed 72nd). Here, too, all the prep. school boys have been included. "Our figure should be more like 27 per cent," says Fr. James Collision, S.J., the headmaster.
The third Benedictine public school on the list, Douai Abbey, appears just about half-way down with 39.4 per cent and standing 28th.