League tables could show dip in performance next year, analysis reveals

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The number of schools in which less than 40 per cent of pupils achieve five GCSEs at A* to C including English and mathematics could increase in the next two years as a result of changes to league tables.

The number of schools in which less than 40 per cent of pupils achieve five GCSEs at A* to C including English and mathematics could increase in the next two years as a result of changes to league tables.

Currently, 190 schools are below the 40 per cent floor, but this is expected to change when reforms from the Wolf Review of vocational education and new rules around GCSE early entry are applied to league tables for examinations sat in 2014 and 2015.

The Wolf Review changes include a reduction in the list of eligible qualifications and new rules meaning that no individual qualification can count for more than one GCSE.

On top of this, new rules announced in the autumn by education minister Michael Gove will also be introduced meaning that only a student’s first entry in any subject will count for the performance tables.

An analysis carried out by the FFT has applied these new rules to last year’s GCSE results to give an idea of what might happen. The exercise saw the number of schools below the floor target of 40 per cent rocket from 190 to 840.

Furthermore, the number of students achieving five A* to C GCSEs including English and maths drops from 62 to 53 per cent, while the gap between Pupil Premium students and their peers rises from 26 to 29 per cent.

However, the analysis applies the GCSE early entry changes in their entirety to the 2013 results, when in fact they are being phased in.

As such, it is not thought the impact will be as dramatic as the projection suggests, although analyst David Thomson said that he still expects a dip nonetheless. 

He explained: “Schools have had two years to respond to the changes recommended by the Wolf Review but less than 12 months to the ‘first entry’ rule. 

“Given that the latter will have a phased introduction we might therefore expect much less pronounced differences than those (described above) when 2014 data is published in January 2015.”

However, he continued: “Nonetheless, we might still expect a small dip in the overall national averages.”

The phased introduction of the early entry rule means that for any eligible qualifications completed in the summer of 2013 or earlier the league tables will still record the best result rather than first entry result.

The FFT analysis shows that it is the early entry change that will have the biggest impact. When only the Wolf Review changes are applied to last year’s results, the overall five A* to C achievement rate only drops two per cent to 60 per cent. It is when both Wolf and early entry changes are applied that the figure drops to 

53 per cent.

The analysis is only relevant to school league tables over the next two years. 

In 2016, further wholesale changes will come into play when England’s league tables move to a new system measuring progress across eight subjects – English and maths, three English Baccalaureate subjects, and three others. The proportion of pupils achieving grades A* to C in both English and maths will continue to be published as well.

The full analysis can be found online at http://bit.ly/MBz8DD

 


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