Leading Lancashire independent school head calls for tables rethink

Elaine Purves
Elaine Purves
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The head of a leading Lancashire independent school has called on Education Secretary Michael Gove to end what she describes as the “league table lunacy,” which has seen her own school slip down the tables because some of its examination results are not counted under current league tables criteria.

Elaine Purves, who took over as head of Rossall School last September 2013, said the current system discriminates against those schools offering the iGCSE alongside the conventional GCSE, despite it being a more traditional and, arguably, more rigorous study alternative.

She is calling on Mr Gove to end the anomaly that is “misrepresenting the true worth of schools, which are performing as well, if not better than many others in the sector, yet sit below those schools in rankings “because of the “crazy inconsistencies” within the system.

And she has invited the Secretary of State to visit Rossall to witness iGCSE lessons first-hand to enable him to make an informed decision.

In her weekly blog, the headteacher asks why universities and industry view iGCSE as an equal, or superior to GCSE, yet the Department of Education doesn’t.

Rossall has enjoyed its best results in GCSE and iGCSE in seven years and she claims: “ It is madness that the skewed system gives the impression of under-performing students, when the opposite is true.

Mrs Purves said: “The system is not fit for purpose and Michael Gove needs to act now to change it, otherwise it begs the question: what is the point of league tables?

“If the purpose is to provide a benchmark for quality and give parents enough information to enable them to make an informed decision about their children’s future education, then it is absolute madness to publish data that requires decoding. It is misleading for prospective parents, students and teachers.

“ We also compete in a global market for overseas students and their parents won’t be aware of the anomalies when choosing the place for their children’s education.

“As a result, schools like ours will be put at a serious disadvantage, which then has consequences for the regional economy, to which we are a major contributor.”

She said iGCSE subjects excluded from published figures include the likes of Cambridge First Language English, combined sciences, Spanish, business studies and English as a second language.