A Birmingham head teacher has slammed the government’s league tables as a “complete bloody shambles” after his school appeared to score zero for GCSE results.
John Claughton, Chief Master at the independent King Edward’s School (KES), spoke out after the Department for Education’s tables showed that no pupils achieved five A* to C grades, including English and maths.
But pupils at the Edgbaston Park Road school achieved their best ever results last year, with 67 per cent of passes at A* grades, 89 per cent at A* or A and 97 per cent A* to B.
The discrepancy arose because pupils at KES study international GCSEs in maths, English language, English literature, sciences, languages and history rather than the conventional qualifications. Although some IGCSEs are counted in the tables, many are still not recognised, including English.
King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys in Kings Heath also scored zero in the league tables for the same reason – despite pupils gaining 86 per cent of GCSEs at A* or A grades and 55 per cent at A* grade.
Mr Claughton said: “Clearly the whole thing is ridiculous, as we are the best performing school in the West Midlands. It makes a complete mockery of the league tables. They might as well not exist.”
The school changed to international GCSEs around 10 years ago and they scrapped traditional A levels in 2010, with pupils instead studying for the international baccalaureate.
“We firmly believe that GCSEs are a waste of time,” said Mr Claughton.
“The international GCSEs have more substantial content and more consistent marking, and better prepare more able boys going on to sixth form study. We feel our decision to change has been vindicated.
“Every parent understands. They know we had our best ever GCSEs last year. They might raise an eyebrow about the league tables but no one has even mentioned it.”
Mr Claughton said the perceived importance of league tables was resulting in a “distortion” of education, with schools entering pupils for “too many” GCSEs and focussing too much effort on getting pupils across the C/D borderline.
“I believe that not only are the league tables farcical in counting some GCSEs and not others, but the concentration on A* to C grades and points per candidate is distorting the education children get.
“I’m not blaming any individual schools as they are being driven in this direction. It’s not serving children; it’s just like scoring points like on a pinball machine. It’s just bloody idiotic,”
Despite the failings of the league tables, Mr Claughton said he could not suggest an alternative solution.
“There will come a time when the Department for Education will see how ridiculous this is, but it is their problem, not mine. I don’t think there is any measure that can prove whether a school is good or bad.
“The very fact that the league tables exist and are taken seriously is a matter to be regretted. I can’t even work out how the scores have been calculated for other schools.
“All in all, it’s a complete bloody shambles.”
Mike Roden, head teacher of King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys, added: “We know that it can be confusing for parents when we don’t appear in the league tables and we wrote to everyone to explain.
“We decided to move away from conventional GCSEs for educational reasons and we are lucky that we are able to choose courses which suit our pupils, thanks to our national reputation.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “All regulated IGCSEs – those approved by Ofqual, the independent regulator – are included in performance tables.
“In 2011 we made all schools aware that unregulated IGCSEs would no longer count in the tables from 2013 – giving schools two years’ notice of the change.”
• King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls, in Kings Heath, was ranked third in the national GCSE tables.