Today sees the annual publication of secondary school league tables by the UK Government. To coincide with their publication the British Academy Policy Centre has published a short guide on school league tables for head teachers and governors. Written by Professor Harvey Goldstein FBA, Professor of Social Statistics at the University of Bristol, it summarises what the existing academic evidence tells us about some of the problems associated with the use of school league tables. It warns that league tables are a simplistic measure and do not adequately examine the underlying relationship between the quality of what schools provide and the results of tests and examinations.
As Professor Goldstein states: “School league tables have come to play an important role in decisions about individual schools and secondary education in general. The British Academy has issued this guide to inform those involved with schools, especially governors and head teachers, about how to make intelligent interpretations of the tables."
Using this guide, head teachers and school governors should feel emboldened to point out some of the drawbacks of school league tables to avoid misleading interpretations by parents, the press and the wider public.
The guide is based on the report ‘Measuring Success’ that was written by Professor Goldstein and Beth Foley and published by the Academy’s Policy Centre in March 2012.