24/Apr/2014 - Last News Update: 00:59

Crackdown on school league table tricks

Category: Headlines

Published: 27th Oct 2011 12:03:39

The government is to crack down on school league table tricks by cutting the value of vocational qualifications in performance measures.

Some of these so-called equivalent qualifications count for as much as four of even six GCSEs.

This creates "perverse incentives" for schools to offer them so as to boost their league table position.

From 2014, only high value qualifications will count, and on a one-for-one basis with academic ones.

The number of equivalent qualifications taken in schools has exploded in recent years from 15,000 in 2004 to 575,00 in 2010.

Some have such a high equivalency with GCSEs that pupils could conceivably take one of these qualifications, plus English and maths GCSE, to be counted for the school benchmark of five good GCSEs including English and maths.

No pupil should be preparing for a vocational qualification simply to boost the schools 'GCSE or equivalent' score”

But now the Department for Education has set out strict new criteria so that what it says are only valued vocational qualifications are recognised in the tables.

Qualifications will only count if they are GCSE-sized or bigger, have a substantial external assessment and require knowledge across the subject and have a range of grades for pupils to obtain.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said he wanted to be sure that the vocational qualifications taken by 14 to 16-year-olds genuinely lead to further education and are valued by employers.

"No pupil should be preparing for a vocational qualification simply to boost the schools 'GCSE or equivalent' score in the performance tables.

"These reforms introduce a systematic and fair set of rules that will determine which of the many thousands of qualifications taught in schools can be included in performance tables for 2014 onwards.

"They will lead to a boost in the quality of vocational qualifications being taken and will enhance the opportunities for young people to progress."

The shake-up follows Prof Alison Wolf's report on vocational qualifications which said schools had been tempted to teach qualifications that attract the most points in school performance tables.

She warned that these equivalences created "perverse incentives" for students to be steered into notching up qualifications which may not help them into work or higher education.

She added that the "staple offer" for a large chunk of sixth-form students was a "diet of low level vocational qualifications".

The Department for Education will set out in early 2012 which ones will still count in performance tables from 2014.

Rod Bristow, president of Pearson UK which accredits vocational BTec qualifications, welcomed the move.

He added: "Independent research has shown that BTecs are rigorous and valuable qualifications enabling students to go on to top universities and great jobs, but we are always looking to raise the bar.

"We have been working collaboratively with schools and colleges and are introducing elements of external assessment into BTecs from 2012.

"It is absolutely right that high value vocational qualifications such as BTecs, which are well regarded by Higher Education and employers, are recognised in league tables and continue to be offered as part of a rounded education."

Source:
BBC News External Link Show Citation

Latest News

Harvard Citation

BBC News, 2011. Crackdown on school league table tricks [Online] (Updated 27th Oct 2011)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/197346/Crackdown-on-school-league-table-tricks [Accessed 24th Apr 2014]

News In Other Categories

  • S Sudan conflict: President Salva Kiir sacks army chief

    South Sudan's President Salva Kiir has sacked the head of the army.
  • Fatal road crash closes Orkney's Churchill Barrier

    Police in Orkney have confirmed that the number two Churchill Barrier remains closed following a fatal road accident.
  • Bristol Academy extends reach overseas with first foreign students

    With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
  • Asylum housing scheme 'badly managed', say MPs

    A "badly managed" Home Office scheme resulted in asylum seekers being placed in "unacceptably poor" housing, the Public Accounts Committee has said.
  • Energy storage: The key to a smarter power grid

    Energy grids across the world are struggling to cope with a surge in demand for electricity and increasingly volatile supply from renewable power sources.
  • Michael Phelps: Olympic swimmer set for competitive return

    Eighteen-time US Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps says concerns about weight gain were behind his decision to return to the sport.