Head of Croydon private school brands league tables a ‘mockery’

Croydon Advertiser, 02/02/15, the school league tables have been branded a “mockery” by a Croydon head teacher after some of the borough's top private schools placed last following changes to which qualifications are recognised. HMC Chairman, Richard Harman, Headmaster of Uppingham School and HMC member Mark Bishop, Headmaster of Trinity School are quoted and HMC member school Whitgift is referenced.

Whitgift, Trinity and Croydon High schools - normally top of the class - propped up the rankings after the government decided not to include International GCSEs (IGCSE).

The table shows the four schools scored zero for the number of students who achieved at least five A* to C grades including English and maths, the benchmark standard.

However, Trinity and Whitgift, for example, achieved 100 and 99 per cent respectively in 2013, and they did similarly well last summer, albeit with a qualification the tables no longer take into account.

The government says it is phasing out IGCSEs, which it once championed, to make way for new GCSE exams currently being introduced in schools.

Richard Harman, chairman of the Headmaster’s and Headmistresses’ Conference, which represents many independent schools, said the decision to drop IGCSEs made was “absurd” and made a “nonsense” of the tables.

TRINITY is used to competing with the two other Whiftgift Foundation schools for the top spot in Croydon’s education league table.

Headmaster Mark Bishop says seeing those standings reversed proves the ratings system is “nonsense”.

“If you are going to produce league tables the only point, presumably, is that parents can get useful information about schools’ performances,” he said.

“Actually they produce what is manifestly a nonsense which obviously raises the question of what’s the point in publishing those tables in the first place.”

Trinity School, which charges fees of £14,460, achieved 100 per cent in 2013 and 2013, and would have made it three years in a row if IGCSEs had not been discounted. In fact, every pupil who sat exams last year achieved at least seven A* to C grades including English and maths.

“Any sensible parent will know that zero per cent, which is what the tables say we got, is clearly absurd,” said Mr Bishop.

“We should be, by some way, the top-performing school in the borough.”

He said the IGCSE better prepares students for their A levels than its traditional counterpart.

“If you take maths, for example, there are some topics that aren’t in the GCSE but are covered in the IGCSE, which helps bridge what is a substantial gap between Year 11 and starting A levels.”

He added: “I’m not worried because I think parents will recognise the tables don’t make any sense.”

The government is in the process of introducing an improved GCSE but, for now, Mr Bishop remains committed to the IGCSE.

“It’s what’s best for academically bright children,” he said.

“We’re happy to change if we see the new GCSEs are more rigorous but I’m much more concerned about having the right qualifications for our students than how we appear in a league table.”

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