A new regime for GCSEs has seen one in eight schools falling below the government’s ‘floor standard’ in league tables published today.
Last year’s figure was for one in 10 schools being below the standard.
Now the goalposts have shifted and the GCES grades for pupils on which a school will be judged has been moved to grade 5.
The government revamped GCSEs and A Levels with a claim that doing so would raise standards and also boost confidence in the system that many critics believed had fallen victim to grade inflation.
This view came about because universities and employers said they were losing faith in the previous system and found it difficult to differentiate between candidates who all had been awarded top grades.
However, the new GCSE system has confused parents and also teachers.
Not meeting previous results in local authority league tables
There are also fears that schools may be placed under even more pressure with many saying their reputation may be damaged by not meeting previous results in local authority league tables.
The Association of School and College Leaders’ general secretary, Geoff Barton, said no one should be in a rush to judge with the latest publication of league tables.
He said: “Our message to governors, trust boards and inspectors and the DFE is to avoid, on the basis of these league tables, a leap to judgement.
“The tables tell a limited amount about a school’s true quality in the qualification system which has undergone significant change and there will be turbulence this summer with the next phase of the new GCSEs.”
According to the government’s figures, around 12%, or 365 schools, are below the new floor standard whereas 2016’s figure reflected 282 schools not meeting standards.
League tables enable parents and pupils to compare
The league tables enable parents and pupils to compare easily between the results of local schools.
When the figures are analysed, the lowest proportion of underperforming schools is to be found in London, while highest proportion is for schools in the north east.
The league tables are put together by using raw GCSE results and data from the Department for Education to estimate how well pupils are progressing in a particular school.
Mr Barton also said that the government ‘had moved the goalposts once again’ and it will be difficult to compare secondary school performance with previously published league tables.
He explained: “The new 9-1 grading system for GCSE maths and English has complicated the way the headline measure of a school’s performance is calculated. It’s particularly frustrating that the bar for achievement in maths and English has been arbitrarily raised under the new system to a grade 5, which is higher than a grade C, the old standard.”
He added that since England’s school system is undergoing significant change, the league tables only reveal a small amount about the school’s true quality.
The DfE’s school league tables are online.