GCSE backlash as National Union of Teachers in Suffolk and Essex criticise ‘divisive’ and ‘crude’ national league tables

Graham White also accused teachers and education as being used as political football and called fo

Graham White also accused teachers and education as being used as political football and called for an end to the privatisation of education. - Credit: Archant

National GCSE league tables are “divisive” and fail to represent the scale of the challenges faced by schools in socially and economic disadvantaged areas, the secretary of Suffolk’s National Union of Teachers (NUT) branch has said.

Graham White also argued teachers are being used as “political football” and called for an end to the “privatisation” of education.

It comes after just over half (51.7%) of pupils in Suffolk scored at least five A*-C grades including English and maths in their GCSEs last summer, the Department for Education revealed this morning.

Mr White said: “League tables are a very unhelpful and divisive way to judge schools (and) we know that the schools lowest in Suffolk league tables are in areas of most deprivation.

“It is interesting to note that academies are often in the lowest rankings and this is supposed to be the way to improve schools.

“Teachers, headteachers and school staff in general are doing their best for all pupils in enabling those students to achieve the best they can. Academic success is not the be all of education; it is much broader than that.

“Developing students’ talents and enabling them to be effective and informed citizens is important too. All pupils need basic skills of literacy, numeracy etc, but vocational and social skills are important too and these are not measured by league tables.

“The best schools are those that do the best for all pupils whatever their pupils’ skills, interests, aptitudes and needs are. This is best discovered by visiting schools and talking to staff, pupils, governors and other parents.

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“It is not too difficult to improve the league table position – focus on the brightest, get rid of the weakest, pursue academic success to the cost of everything else. To do this would be totally wrong and against the principles teachers stand for.

“The long-term solution is to adopt the principles the NUT wishes to pursue: eradicate poverty and social divisions; get rid of academies and free schools; adopt the Finnish system rather than failed systems of Sweden and US Charter schools; qualified teacher in charge every class; improve conditions, pay, pensions of teachers to avoid the 40% who leave in first three years of teaching; stop privatisation of education; and value teachers and education rather than use it as a political football.

“Pupils get one chance: make sure it is the best it can be for all pupils.”

His thoughts were echoed by his Essex counterpart, Jerry Glazier, National Union of Teachers national executive member for Essex, who said: “The union has had a long held opposition to these crude, narrow league tables which we think frequently misrepresent the effectiveness of the schools which are based on numerical outcomes and don’t reflect the nature of the school, the circumstances in which it operates or the nature of the kids.

“It is a failure to recognise that external factors can have a profound impact on a school’s ability to rise up the league tables so in practical terms schools will be doing a fantastic job catering for the diverse needs of their children.

“Parents should always be encouraged to make judgements by visiting, looking at the ethos and depth and breadth of the curriculum.”