League tables and English Bac
10 Jan 2011
The secondary school league tables for England will be published this week and will include - for the first time - the new measure showing how many students have achieved the "English Baccalaureate" (GCSEs at A* to C including: Maths, English, a humanity, a foreign language, and double science/two single sciences).
This is slightly odd since the new Bac was only announced by the coalition government after pupils had taken their GCSEs in summer 2010. In other words, this is a retrospective measure.
It is a bit like the Premier League deciding, in mid-season, to award extra points for every goal scored or corner achieved and back-dating tables for the results of games already played.
Some schools are set to score poorly on the English Bac measure and will feel hard done by as they are being judged on a measure that was not in existence when pupils were choosing their courses.
At present only history and geography qualify as humanities, yet many teachers believe other subjects - such as Religious Studies, Sociology or Media Studies - should be included. A government source tells me ministers will listen to other views on this and will not be "blinkered" to possible changes. However, any changes will not come in time for this year's league tables.
In my Twitter feed, I asked "is this fair?". Here are some of the responses:
Dale Bassett: Not really "applying retrospectively" - just a quantitative measure of existing stats. Exactly the same as when the 'including English & Maths' measure was introduced alongside 5 A*-Cs in any subject by previous govt - ran successfully side by side for years.
Margaret Morrissey: I think League tables are not worth the paper they are written on so no problem in my camp. My advice to parents: ignore them.
@GiftedPhoenix: Gives a baseline I suppose. There should also be an advanced/higher Bac for those getting A*/A in every subject.
@SchoolDuggery: I'm less worried about the retrospective thing (though angry at the spin put on it by @ToryPressHQ and the papers) than the narrow and arbitrary scope of it. Evidence that these particular GCSEs are more difficult or more valued is thin.Expanding the scope of it will help, but Y9 students are choosing options now.
@robcarter: EBacc is fair as we can't all just play the game and tick the right boxes. This is what would happen by next year.
@LeeDonaghy: of course not! The way this has been spun is an excuse to bash Labour's record and win support for Tory agenda. It stinks.
@SurrealAnarchy: good to ask for a range of knowledge but it is devalued if it doesn't include the arts.
@Voicetheunion: What’s the point of this Bacc-lite?
@DrSpenny: but is it ethical to encourage children to choose EB subjects for the benefit of league table position?
@itsmotherswork: Fair? Nope.
What do you think? Send me your views on Twitter to @mikebakeredhack or use the form below to respond.