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Expert Comment: School League Tables

BART Wednesday 25 April 2012

Professor Bart McGettrick, Dean of Education at Liverpool Hope University

Today, there are published another year of what purport to be school performance results. The country is filled with teachers, parents and even children all looking at where their school falls in these tables of school performance.

Are these fair and just and valid indicators of the performance of a school?

There is a high correlation between a place in a league table and the postcodes of schools.

The average salaries of parents are about as useful a mechanism for placing a school in these leagues.

This correlation with “wealth” is strangely familiar with football!

Of course, some measurement is useful and valid in certain areas, but there is more to education than can be measured.

In a culture of accountability, headteachers are driven to address the performance of their schools by these tables. That is how they are publicly judged. Have we allowed education to become just another commodity bought and sold in the marketplace of life?

Well, education is not and should not be like that. Our schools have to be engaged in forming future generations with values of humanity that will flourish. This means caring for our neighbours, having a sense of our own responsibility, being a person of service to others, and working in the common good. These do not feature in league tables and yet are central to what we should expect of our schools.

Can we have league tables of hope, of love and of care? We may just reflect on the thought that the good school should be judged by the extent to which it has filled the years of youth with an education which will form generations of caring, competent, thoughtful young people. Then league tables would be really worth reading.

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