by Murray White CATHOLIC schools found themselves ranked among the very best in the country after the first-ever publication of national examination results last week although there was concern that those near the bottom of tables would now be labelled as "bad" schools.
The headteacher at St Michael's, Barnet, Mary Daly, was "very pleased" at the results which placed her school among the top ten grammar schools nationwide. "It is good to see excellence acknowledged, and it is a tribute to the commitment of our staff," she said.
Mrs Daly stressed it was "difficult to analyse results without taking into account other factors in the running of the school. Not even other vocational examinations are included."
A league table of results could be misunderstood, she said. Some schools would be described as "the worst in the country when they often have to cope with very difficult conditions".
St Nicholas High in Hartford, Cheshire, was the only Catholic school in the top ten A level table for comprehensives across the country. Headteacher Michael O'Connor was "very encouraged" by the results, but said his staff were only aiming to do "what is best for the pupils".
"It is very debatable whether these tables are as valuable as the politicians believe. There is much more to this school than those examination results," he said.
Some Catholic schools fared particularly well, coming top in five of the 12 inner-London boroughs. But others had poor results, stressing the figures should take into account language and pupils' domestic problems.
The Catholic Education Service criticised the results for being misleading and said they would do nothing to raise education standards.