Opinion Former Article

NUT comment on League Tables

Commenting on the publication of the secondary school achievement and attainment tables by the Department of Education (DfE) alongside school spending data, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers' union, said.

"Michael Gove is right to praise the achievement of children and teachers, which demonstrates the huge difference schools make to young people's lives. Nevertheless, this achievement is undermined by the fact that the results appear in invidious league tables which reflect nothing of the true value and work of schools.

"It is hardly surprising that some secondary schools did not achieve the English Baccalaureate. Judging secondary schools against criteria which were not previously in place makes a mockery of the results and quite frankly the Government should have had more sense than to publish these results.

"Despite endless reassurances from Government that they want to interfere less in the running of schools we now see a whole new raft of accountability measures including school expenditure. How many parents will genuinely be concerned about such detailed level of information regarding schools' expenditure? Most parents want to know if their child is happy at school and if they are doing as well as they could be, not how much the school spent on catering.

"Teaching quality is known to have a relationship with school performance, so it would have been more useful to publish how many unqualified teachers were employed by a school, or the proportion of lessons taken by staff who are not teachers, than simply disguise this under the heading of "staff costs".

"Without contextual information this financial data is as meaningless as League Tables. High expenditure on energy could mean that the school is very old. Such detailed information on schools simply shifts the focus from the real issue which is cuts to the education budget including the BSF programme.

"The Government's focus on efficiency doesn't of course extend to its policy on academies and Free Schools. Apart from the money being wasted on this programme, schools are being encouraged to break away from Local Authorities who are in an excellent position to promote efficiency through, for example, economies of scale on school services."


For further details contact Caroline Cowie on 0207 380 4706/ 07879480061

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