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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 Star 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
    afterdark likes this.
  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 Star 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 Star 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.
    Jonntyboy and ajrowing like 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.

  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+.
    Jonntyboy and Jamvic like this.
  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.
    Jonntyboy likes this.
  15. Jonntyboy

    Jonntyboy Occasional commenter

    I'm still waiting...
  16. Jonntyboy

    Jonntyboy Occasional commenter

    My instinctive take on education and schools is that the very act of making them competitive with each other is what is wrong. It causes many problems. That's what I thought before I became a teacher and it's what I think now too, fundamentally, and in a world where the standards of education across all schools were the same, or as near it as to make little difference, and where all students had the same teaching and the same opportunities, it would not only be a rational instinctive view but also a practical view.

    But the world isn't like that. There are massive differences between schools. Those of us on here who are/have been teachers will know that there are great teachers, there are good teachers and there are bad teachers. There are great headteachers, good headteachers and awful headteachers. Some schools have sensible behavioural systems and timetabling, some seem clueless and are administratively inefficient or even incompetent.

    So in practice and in reality, if we wish (as we do) to give all our students a fair chance to receive an excellent education, there has to be some way of getting rid of the bad side and trying to raise schools that are not achieving this - for whatever reasons - up to a better level. And that simply can't be done unless there is some way of measuring a school's success. So we need some kind of measuring yardstick and a way of using it to get the data we need.

    If I understand your general view (and that of @JohnJCazorla and a few other commentators), you are making the valid point that there are a multitude of variables that cause a school to be where it is on the scale of great to appalling. Well, no argument there from me there. But I would suggest that in making a judgement on a school - which parents will naturally wish to do - it would be impossible to set up a trustworthy system to demonstrate how a school was faring in all these areas. So what the D of E has done is to go for the easiest option, that of considering exam results and ranking schools by exam success - that is their preferred yardstick

    Again, as all teachers know, exam results can be gamed, and have been. So in some (many?) cases they give a false picture. So that yardstick is unsuitable for its purpose.

    The questions is, and has to be, what other yardstick could be used to give a fairer picture. Progress 8 is an attempt to remedy this, and although I think that it is arguably a better device, I agree with comments above that it too is not ideal.

    I have some ideas myself, ill-formed as yet... If schools were not paid capitation money for kids on roll, but were paid in a different way, it might reduce some of the gaming incentive. If ranking were not on exams alone, but also on some other values drawn from independent surveys, and unpressured, non-exam-style lessons that were nonetheless graded, that might give a clearer and fairer picture. There certainly needs to be some (major?) acknowledgement of the demographic from which the students are largely drawn.

    But fundamentally, the fact remains that if the kids from school A are coming out able to read and write efficiently, and those from school B are not, the ones from school A will have a far better chance in life. So irrespective of ranking or Ofsted or anything else, school A will have done a better job and most parents will want their kids to go there. And whether we as teachers like it or not, it is also likely to mean that either some management or some teachers - or some of both - at school B are not up to their jobs and need to go. I don't believe that there is any school, anywhere, in any circumstances, that cannot be improved.

    I'm rambling now .. sorry .. but it's a real poser and one I think about a lot. It's a circle that needs to be squared somehow and I know that more experienced people than I have pondered it. I do think it's possible, though, to find an answer. And that answer might indeed include an Insted rather than an Ofsted as @brachael has suggested above. But there will need to be some accountability system somewhere.
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  17. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    Sorry to pick out a paragraph in a post that I agree with but.....
    This neglects a significant aspect of gaming - getting rid of the awkward kids. If A and B are equal but A can offload the challenging ones (and yes SEN are challenging in this context) then A will get more of the applicants and can select the more desirable ones into the next years intake and B will get the dregs.

    That's the problem with our education system, I can easily pick faults in any solution but I can't see the solution myself. Even though I accept that any solution means getting rid of the likes of me, a money-grubber who drifts around schools delivering a half-decent education I still can't see how.

    Clearly the solution will require money and accountability but even that simplistic message can be shot down (and I do)
    Jonntyboy and ajrowing like this.
  18. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    The solution is not a singular. There are other models. Finland was held up by the UK media to criticise UK teachers on behalf of the government. Once the lack of league tables and other fundamental differences were pointed out like the Finnish minister saying "we trust our teachers to teach". Finland suddenly dropped off the UK media radar.

    For education to improve the UK needs to start trusting its teachers. This can easily be demomstrated by 2 simple things, getting rid of league tables and OFSTEd. We can go back to HMI, professional, discreet and supportive.
    Grandsire likes this.
  19. Morninglover

    Morninglover Lead commenter

    Spot on.
    lizziescat likes this.
  20. tenpast7

    tenpast7 Occasional commenter

    Over-regulation destroys professionalism, in my opinion.Teachers are naturally motivated to work hard and want to help and support their pupils.
    They don't need all of the micromanagement and culture of fear that exists today.

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