Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

School league table changes planned

Ministers have announced a shake-up of school league tables

Ministers have announced details of a major shake-up of school league tables which will limit the vocational qualifications that count in the future.

The move is part of a bid to stop schools from encouraging youngsters to take qualifications that boost their league table position, but do not help a pupil's prospects.

Under the plans, outlined by the Department for Education (DfE), only "high quality" vocational qualifications which meet certain criteria will be included, alongside GCSEs, iGCSEs and AS-levels.

Qualifications that don't meet the set standards can still be offered by schools but will not count in the league tables.

The proposals say that a qualification will count if it has a proven track record; it offers youngsters the chance to go on and do a wide range of courses; if it is the size of a GCSE or bigger; if it has a "substantial" amount of external assessment and it is marked by means of A*-G grades.

It could mean that BTEC qualifications are unlikely to be included, as they do not include a large amount of external assessment.

Music exams, for example in violin or piano, at grade 6 or above would count.

Ministers said they also plan to change the system so that every qualification counts equally in the tables.

Under the current system, some vocational qualifications are worth multiple GCSEs. For example, a level 2 BTEC in horse care is worth four GCSEs at grade C or higher.

In a bid to encourage students to follow a "balanced" curriculum, the DfE said just two non-GCSE courses per pupil will count towards the Government's benchmark of each child gaining five A*-Cs at GCSE.

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