Colleges are being “thrown to the wolves” by the government’s decision to publish performance league tables this year, the president of the Association of School and College Leaders will warn today.
Pepe Di’Iasio will urge the Department for Education to rethink the decision at ASCL’s annual conference – insisting that schools and colleges will be unfairly criticised publicly by newspapers.
“How can it be right to compare the performance of one school or college with another when they have been so differently affected by the pandemic over the last two years?” he is expected to say.
Unlike last year, the DfE has ruled that results from GCSEs and post-16 qualifications, such as A-levels, will be used in performance tables.
In its guidance, the department says: “We recognise the uneven impact on schools and colleges of the pandemic and will ensure clear messages are placed on the performance tables to advise caution when drawing conclusions from the 2021 to 2022 data.”
Last year’s GCSE, A-levels and other academic-focused level 3 qualifications were decided by teacher-assessed grades due to the pandemic rather by than traditional exams, which return this summer for the first time in two years.
Adaptations have been made to this summer’s exams to try to make them fairer for students following the disruption caused by Covid, such as advance information on some of the exam content to help them focus their revision.
But an ASCL survey of 13,300 school and college leaders found that about 80 per cent are against the move to publish performance tables based on qualifications being sat by students this summer after two years of upheaval caused by the pandemic.
Backing his president, ASCL general secretary Geoff Barton said: “That’s not because we’re against accountability. It’s because we’re against phony accountability, based on evidence which is not going to allow parents and other people to make fair judgments.”
During his speech Di’Iasio will say: “The government’s answer is to say that it will place a health warning on performance tables and advise caution when considering the data.
“Surely, if the data is unreliable, the obvious answer is not to publish it in the first place.
“This is not a small matter. Careers and reputations are affected by performance tables. Newspapers publish them.
“It feels as though we are being thrown to the wolves by the government’s insistence on going ahead with this misguided and counter-productive policy. That is a pretty terrible way to treat a profession which surely deserves more respect after the last two years.”