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What is the point of league tables?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by moscowbore, Oct 29, 2019.

  1. Jonntyboy

    Jonntyboy Occasional commenter

    Your comment is false. Try research. (Serious research - not a quick glimpse of some half-baked, home-made, baseless rant from one of the many loonies on youtube). One can only wonder where you go to find such myths.

    But even if it were true, as stated it is irrelevant, as it makes a feeble - indeed, a completely failed - attempt to imply a causal link between the efficiency of the German educational system and the suicide of teenage children, with no evidence to back it up. Is school the only reason for every teenage suicide?

    This is the sort of woolly thinking and knee-jerk response that discourages people from trying to have a sensible discussion on here. If you have nothing rational to state, nothing that moves the topic forward, why don't you simply refrain from comment? That is what I and many others do in the various threads about which we know little or to which we feel we cannot make a useful contribution.
  2. Jonntyboy

    Jonntyboy Occasional commenter

    Whilst accepting the first part of your post, I wonder what you mean by not wanting a "zero tolerance" school. What don't you want them to have zero tolerance about? Bullying? Assault? Drugs?

    But your last paragraph shows a rather worrying naivete. The most useless school I ever taught in had a wonderful brochure, detailing its policies (which were at best implemented only half the time), its curriculum (which was generally accurate, though some subjects, especially on the arts side, were regularly "taught" by supply teachers and TAs) and its alleged strengths, which sounded amazing but which were mostly pure fantasy. Heaven knows what the chain had spent on all the marketing hype, to impress parents like you.

    I was only there a term, and couldn't wait for my contract to end. The following year Ofsted came in, saw through the carp and put the place in special measures.

    Incidentally, are you one of those trendy people who don't believe in competition and comparison because it makes some people winners and some losers?
  3. Jonntyboy

    Jonntyboy Occasional commenter

    I agree a visit is best. But not all data is flawed. A combination of looking at data and visiting the school and talking, if possible, to some current students, might perhaps be ideal. I wonder how many parents can do, or would do, that?
  4. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Senior commenter

    where I go to find such "myths" - Germany.

    Specifically the German education system

    where I have extensive experience of this problem and the attempts to understand and rectify it.

    So I suggest you wind your neck in. I know VERY WELL INDEED exactly what I am talking about
  5. Jonntyboy

    Jonntyboy Occasional commenter

    Thanks for your interesting and comprehensive reply, and I'm sorry it has taken me a while to get back to you.

    I don't disagree with much of what you write. I'm as much against the incompetence and fraud we see around us in some schools as you are. But what gives the lie to your more general comment against the system is pure experience. My own, for a start. How can a teacher come into a struggling school in a generally economically depressed - or at best mixed - area, and quickly institute policies, select staff, overhaul the system and create a school with great facilities, no debt (and therefore money to spend on extras), with an SEN department that is the envy of the area, with contented staff with little turnover and with generally well-behaved kids, if so much is wrong with the system?

    Answer = he can't, if the system is so broken. But I know a school where it really happened, because I taught there. No need for academisation, no need for some parasitic "chain" to get involved, no need for any more Ofsted (as they gave it an outstanding report and disappeared), no need for extra money (although of course all schools could spend more if it were offered), no need for "capability".

    So this proves that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the system, but - and here is the argument that I have advanced so often - everything fundamentally wrong with so many of the people who run schools. A school is a hierarchical organisation, just like a medium/large business is. If the man/woman at the top is the right person, it all filters down over time and the organisation thrives. If the person at the top is flawed, it won't be long before flaws show in the fabric of the system. Big companies have been brought to their knees by failed managers. Small companies have thrived and grown due to inspirational leaders.

    When we get the system right so that more people such as the man in my example are made headteachers, and we get rid of the petty incompetents, who surround themselves with sycophants and wreck the life chances of so many kids, we will begin to see more schools thriving like the very best do. And there are ways to do this - and from your post, I see that you also think that it is possible to build a better system, once we get rid of the people fleecing the system (I agree) and if there is the political will (agree too). But if they are shown a way to get things right, i believe that our policy-makers may slowly gain that political will. And don't just blame politicians for all their faults - don't forget that the civil servants who run the DofE are also very slow to adopt change - "Yes Minister" was often based on reality, as we now know.

    But in the short term, accountability has to be by the results that the kids achieve, until we develop a system to measure progress by a fairer and more efficient means - which may well, as you suggest, be a return to a more HMI style of inspection, hopefully by experienced educationalists and proven leaders (in other fields too) who can see through bull, and who ideally would have the power to remove incompetent leaders.

    However, I fundamentally disagree that the government should not be "in charge" of education. I accept that governments interfere a bit in terms of social engineering, but they all do - Blair & Co. no less than the Tories. I don't think that can or will change, and at least we don't get much overt propaganda (except of course in places like Haringey. ;) ) After all, it's our taxes that pay for schools, and I don't know who would be better placed than the government to oversee it... though I'd be ready to listen to serious suggestions as to who/what might replace it. But until I see one that seems workable, I'm happy to retain the status quo (like the good conservative that I am).
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  6. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Senior commenter

    School is the main reason, yes, and the suicides are generally correlated to school assessments.

    so no, not a "feeble" or " failed" attempt to imply a causal link, but a statement of a known and verified causal link with myriads of evidence to back it up
  7. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Senior commenter

    The woolly thinking and knee jerk response is coming from you.

    Far from having " nothing rational to state to move the topic forward" I am not only experienced in the German education system, but trained in suicide prevention there too.

    So why should I "refrain from comment" - my contribution is far far far more "useful" and informed than yours
  8. Jonntyboy

    Jonntyboy Occasional commenter

    No need to get uptight. I'm sure you are very knowledgeable. It's just the figures I wanted, because the data about teen suicide in German schools that I have does not support your initial statement.

    I'll wait for you to get back to me, shall I?
  9. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Lo. I’m a trendy anti-competition freak. Hey ho. Actually, I’m the opposite but I’ll let it run. I visit a lot of schools and the ones with zero tolerance are aimed solely at those children from a deprived background. Schools where self regulation is taught well, both at home and in school, don’t need zero tolerance. And by zero tolerance I mean a detention or suspension on the first offence of, talking in the corridor, not having the corporate branded equipment, indeed any offence whatsoever. It’s just behaviourist nonsense.

    As for curriculum - you either offer it at GCSE and A level or you don’t. You do options in Year 9 or you do options in Year 8.
    Jonntyboy likes this.
  10. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    I'm half-trendy then because I'm okay with competition once this question has been answered
    "What happens to the losers?"

    If the answer to that is acceptable then I'm all for competition but I find it hard to believe that in the current education system.
    ajrowing likes this.
  11. brachael

    brachael New commenter

    This is interesting :
    Richard House and Richard Brinton are campaigning for an alternative to OFSTED called INSTED (catchy!)
    To quote:

    'We need to think differently about school inspections and education quality. Half a century ago, Finland changed its whole orientation, shifting to supporting the profession of teaching, upping the quality and stature of teacher training (teachers being paid on a par with doctors), and trusting schools’ own quality control. It paid off massively – and with no punitive, compliance-demanding inspectorate! And New Zealand is also showing that there’s a better way.
    Our new campaign to fundamentally reform or replace Ofsted will be continuing in the autumn with the launch of INSTED – ‘Inspiring New Standards in Education’. We know there’s a better way for creating an excellent schooling system that nourishes rather than mercilessly bludgeons our children and teachers. The old paradigm is threadbare: together, we can, must and will create a new one.'

    I taught in secondary schools and OFSTED encouraged an atmosphere of fear. My period teaching saw an ever-growing obsession with assessment for pupils and teachers which stole away time and focus on learning and the pleasure of education. And even more importantly OFSTED's primary focus is a suspicion that teachers are doing it wrong which then encourages the same knock-on effect from management towards teachers. I think academic pressures in school today for staff and pupils are terrible today.

    ajrowing, Jonntyboy and JohnJCazorla like this.
  12. Jonntyboy

    Jonntyboy Occasional commenter

    Thanks for the answer. I'm with you all the way with your first paragraph. I clearly inferred too much from your earlier post - apologies. But I still think some form of ranking is needed, accepted as I think we all so that the present one could be improved.

    Not sure what your point is in the second paragraph above though. Isn't that what happens anyway? It is in all the schools in which I have worked (though some have not had a sixth form and therefore not offered As.).
  13. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Ranking schools creates a proxy of positivist data. You have to therefore take qualitative dats and create a 'value'. You are then saying the school is the cause of this value = causality. Yet the first surface level analysis of this data and research behind it says there are other causalities to the outcomes: parents, affluence, values, religion, private tutoring, cultural capital, familial capital and so forth. The model of causality is not proven. You can say what a school does, but you can’t say what a school causes. In any event, a school immediately from the point of value begins to change. Cohorts, teachers and leaders all change until there is a point where the original 'school' (group of people) no longer exists.

    My latter paragraph is about curriculum design not curriculum quality. I accept your point about the paucity of teaching and agree - teachers, their degrees and their experience should be part of a school data set available to parents. I also think that all pupils deserve well qualified teachers not just those who live in areas of affluence or who have passes an 11+.
  14. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter


    OFSTED must die.

    Even worse this https://www.tes.com/news/why-ofsted-blaming-school-leaders-workload

    Michael Tidd wrote this article. He is a head teacher. His view seems to be that OFSTED are to blame for teacher workload. I disagree. OFSTED have stated many times that they do not require triple marking yet head teachers insist on it under threat of capability. Teachers do what the head teacher tells them to do. If the head teacher changed a marking policy to, "mark as you see fit", then OFSTED would be happy.

    I remember a conversation with a primary head teacher. He was saying how horrified he was at the marking his teachers have to do. Apparently some of his teachers spent hours at home every night marking 60 pieces of work every night. I reminded him that he was the one telling them that the marking had to be done. He rolled his eyes, puffed his cheeks and said "What can I do .... OFSTED". He left the school that year and his replacement ditched the ridiculous marking policy in her first day.

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