Laid bare: The injustice of school league tables

The inherent unfairness of the DfE’s Progress 8 league tables is revealed by research showing just how much a range of factors affect GCSE outcomes. Pete Henshaw takes a look

Half of the secondary schools judged to be underperforming in England would not fall into this category if league tables took into account pupil backgrounds.

Research from the University of Bristol has shown that once factors known to influence GCSE outcomes – such as deprivation and free school meals (FSM), SEN, and ethnicity – are included in league table calculations there is a dramatic shift for many schools. Indeed, a fifth of England’s secondary schools see their league table position change by 500 places or more; 74 schools move up more than 1,000 places.

The study says that given the impact that pupil background has, the Department for Education (DfE) should consider reforming its league tables and, alongside Ofsted, should place less emphasis on the Progress 8 measure.

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