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NAHT says schools' performance tables are like comparing apples with pears

As secondary schools' performance tables are published, NAHT warns that this data is not comparable to previous years and urges caution when reviewing any data which is only ever a starting point when judging a school’s effectiveness.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, said:

"Head teachers, staff and students have worked hard in every secondary school across the country to support their students to achieve their potential. We pay tribute to their dedication. 

“Unfortunately, every year, schools’ achievements can be overshadowed by comparisons between one year’s results and the next. In a year of such unprecedented changes to GCSEs, these kinds of comparisons are particularly unjust and unreliable.

“There has been so much change that the school performance tables generated by the government are increasingly dubious. It really is like comparing apples with pears, trying to draw any meaningful conclusions from the performance tables.  Comparing one year with another, or one group of schools with another, is precarious at best when the very basis of measurement is different each time. While data such as school league tables can be useful, there are no ‘health warnings’ given about the numbers published and there should be.

“There are further years of uncertainty to come as the rest of the reformed subjects are implemented and we then need a significant period of stability in the system. Until we’ve seen all of the reforms implemented, those who seek to hold schools to account should refrain from cracking the whip. Support rather than sanction is the appropriate path to take.”

Liam Collins, head teacher at Uplands Community College in East Sussex, said, “The results are confusing for both schools and parents/carers alike and not comparable to any year before.  In fact, based on all the changes in the education system, the first group to work their way through the fully changed system will be 2024 at the earliest.”

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

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