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Education, News, Politics

Talking points: Should Wales bring back school league tables?

New research claims that banning the publication of league tables in Wales has had a negative effect on pupil grades.

Wales stopped publishing school league tables in 2001 but new research shows that many pupils are dropping as much as two GCSE grades because of it (Photo: Carl Stead)

Bristol University research compared schools in England – where league tables are still published – with schools in Wales where publication of league tables was stopped in 2001.

The research shows that an average student in England will outperform an average student in Wales by two GCSE grades.

The naming and shaming that accompanied the publication of league tables led to more “effective” schools, say researchers.

“We find systematic, significant and robust evidence that abolishing school league tables markedly reduced school effectiveness in Wales.

“The impact is sizeable: a fall of 1.92 GCSE grades per student per year”

The study also showed that the worst performing schools had an even greater drop in attainment levels.

“The lower 75% of schools are affected negatively with the poorest and lowest ability schools falling behind the most.

“Our results show that the policy reform in Wales reduced average performance and raised educational inequality.”

The study concludes that league tables should be re-introduced in Wales.

But an assembly government spokesperson defended the decision to abolish league tables saying young people’s levels of attainment in Wales continued to rise “year on year”.

“We want to improve performance across all schools and believe strongly that league tables are not the most effective way of presenting information to schools, parents, and the wider public.”

“Robust self evaluation and performance data play a vital role in promoting continuous improvement and we fully endorse this.

“We have a commitment to learning and benchmarking against those near and far away and the use of data at all levels in the system to promote continuous improvement and to monitor the effectiveness of our interventions.”

Education Minister Leighton Andrews said league tables had been abolished after calls and advice from the teaching profession and that the assembly would be able to review if the policy had been effective in December when international comparisons of school performance are reported.

We’d like to hear from you – are league tables a good thing? Would you like to see them brought back or are their better ways of increasing educational performance in schools? Are you a teacher of a school pupil – what do you think about today’s report? Join in the conversation on our facebook fan page or by tweeting us @ITV Wales on twitter. You can also email us your views news@itvwales.com.

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