Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT said: “Whilst school leaders are celebrating their students’ achievements today, they will also be concerned about the way their schools will be judged after this latest set of results.
“The reality is that many schools are now trapped between a rock and a hard place when deciding upon which subjects to offer students in the future.
“On the one hand, schools will be determined to offer a wide range of subjects so pupils can choose GCSEs that best fit their abilities and aspirations. But on the other, they’ve got the government’s performance measures that are scrutinised by Ofsted, Regional Schools Commissioners and others.
“To get to the best possible scores in performance tables, schools would have to get as many of their students as possible through both English language and literature GCSEs as well as the other EBacc subjects that the government favours.
“The problem is that what looks good for schools on paper, and what’s right for students, in reality, are now potentially conflicting with each other, and that can’t be healthy.
“Many years of government reform have resulted in an absurd situation where school leaders are being pressured to choose between what is best for their school and what is best for pupils.
“A better system would be one where schools are able to offer a broad range of subjects in the school day so that pupils’ opportunities aren’t limited and they are properly prepared for adult life. This freedom is being restricted. Fairer means of holding schools to account are now urgently needed.
“Students will continue to be short-changed and schools will remain between a rock and a hard place until we have a system that recognises that exam data is only part of the picture when judging a pupil’s success or a school’s effectiveness.”
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