Shropshire headteacher criticises ‘misleading’ GCSE school tables

Shropshire Star,  29.01.16, the headteacher of an independent school has criticised league tables as being “misleading”. HMC member Dr Haydn Griffiths, headmaster of leading independent Wrekin College is quoted.

Dr Hadyn Griffiths, headmaster at Wrekin College in Wellington, Telford, said the recent GCSE league tables were not a fair representation of the situation at schools.

Dr Griffiths said: “I particularly have felt the need to speak out after the recent GCSE league table results which are simply not a fair representation of the real picture.

"I feel I can speak with authority from what we have experienced here at Wrekin College but I have no doubt that many schools are feeling similarly aggrieved.”

In the table, it was claimed that Wrekin College scored 68 per cent achieving five grades A* to C including mathematics and English.

But Dr Griffiths said that does not take into account some subjects where students are taking International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) examinations.

Dr Griffiths claims that IGCSE examinations in some subjects do feature in the league tables, while others don’t.

He said: “The tables usually exclude these IGCSE examinations or equivalents which many independent schools do instead of GCSEs.

“We follow these courses in subjects where we feel the pupils need more challenge to help bridge the intellectual gap between GCSE and A level.

Wrekin College follows a mixture of GCSE and IGCSE courses carefully selected to bring the best out of each child, in each subject, by stretching and challenging them.

“Individually the pupils performed very well for them. The league tables distort that picture completely.

“Last year we followed IGCSE (or equivalent) courses in English, English literature, French, German, Spanish, all of the sciences and history. Either the results for all or none of these should have appeared in the statistics.

“The statistics should clearly state what results have been included and, most importantly, excluded.”

Dr Griffiths said that with the IGCSE included, the school would show that 94 per cent of students gained five A* to C grades, with 85 per cent gaining 5 A* to C grades including mathematics and English.

He added: “The tables also don’t take into account how a school operates, including its admissions criteria.

“Given the non-selective nature of our intake, we were very pleased with how the individual pupils performed.

“We are not just here to celebrate the highest grades but to celebrate results which have been secured after a great deal of hard work from all pupils and their teachers.

“In the maintained sector, comparing results for selective grammar schools with other schools is not valid and similar comparisons are not helpful in the independent sector.”

The school, on Sutherland Road, charges £13,695 a year for junior day pupils, rising to £28,770 a year for full boarding in its sixth form.

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