The thing about school league tables…….


An article appeared on my facebook timeline last night that I was genuinely troubled by.

England’s worst schools revealed…..

The article, written by the Daily Mirror, which can be read here, states that official government figures released this week, show that one in eight mainstream secondary schools are under-performing.

Schools fall below the government’s performance threshold if pupils fail to make enough progress across eight subjects, with particular weight given to English and maths.

This is only the second year that the schools have been measured and ranked by how they perform in two areas – Attainment 8 and Progress 8.


My son’s school is on the list!

This school has been attended by all three of my older children and they have all enjoyed being at the school and achieved good GSCE results, with Kian on track for his A-Levels and excited by university offers.

I cannot even begin to feel how these teachers must be feeling right now. I know friends currently in the profession and know that each and every one of them strive to do the very best for each child they teach.

Isaac is currently in Year 5, so come September we will be looking into secondary schools for him and I have to admit that I had a bit of a wobble, however, my lovely friend, and an amazing teacher, replied to our concerns and I asked her permission to share it on my blog to put others’ minds at ease:

League tables only tell a tiny piece of the picture! It’s lovely to see schools make progress but if they’re not as high as previously, it doesn’t now mean they’re rubbish! 

Children aren’t robots, they don’t enter a school all at the same predefined level and subject to what the government seem to think, outside factors will always play a part in how they approach school and learning.

As a parent and a teacher, the most important thing to me is how happy my children are. Do they come home buzzing with what they’ve learnt (yes I know as they get older, asking them about their day is harder than getting a cow to poop gold!!) but they will still have those days when they can’t hold it in! Are they happy to go every day? Is the school providing them with a well rounded curriculum, so children who struggle with the core subjects, feel that they can achieve at what they are passionate about? That to me is more important than any league table!

So don’t judge a school on league tables or SATs results….. judge them on your gut instinct, judge them on your heart, judge them with your children’s smiles…. that tells you more than you need to know!


What should you do if you are worried about your school’s performance?

If your kids love school, are thriving and getting good results, then that speaks volumes but remember, our children need our support too.

Parents evenings are a great way of communicating with teachers and finding out how your kids are getting on and are great for early interventions if your child is struggling in a particular area.

Teachers can only do so much and kids are only at school for 6-7 hours a day. You can help by supporting their learning at home, making sure they complete their homework, reading books or even watching the news.

Learning doesn’t stop when they walk out of school and whilst kids need their downtime, even chatting about what they have learned at school shows you are taking an interest and can encourage them to find out more after their lessons have finished.

Whilst I do think schools performance should be monitored and failing schools given the additional support they need, I think performance tables can be misleading and are unfair on our already overstretched teachers. Let them cater to individual children’s needs and not the governments targets.

What are your thoughts on school league tables?

26 thoughts on “The thing about school league tables…….

  1. I never had this at school, well at least I don’t remember. My kids don’t have this either. I agree with what you say

  2. Dannii says:

    It really is just a small part of the big picture isn’t it. We found this out even when we were looking at nurseries.

  3. John Milnes says:

    The only thing which concerns my wife and I, is if the school has a good, or outstanding rating. The currently primary school where out daughter is, has had an outstanding rating for a long time. Their teachers are brilliant and so is their head teacher. For us, this is what more important. As for GCSE’s, she is not quite at that level, but we know what hight school she is going to, and they have recently had a new Head installed. Lets hope the school starts to improve from what they were at couple of years ago, which is ‘Requires Improvement’. I have never paid attention to league tables.

    John M

  4. Laura Dove says:

    I loved this post and totally agree. School league tables show just a small part about the performance of a school, I really don’t like them at all!

  5. Fritha says:

    We tend to not look at these things when deciding upon schools, my sons is ranked one of the lowest but we think it’s great !x

  6. Stephen says:

    I think we are under a lot of strain and comparisons are made to other countries on how well pupils excel at certain subjects there and not here. To know how a school performs I think is important, but also if my child (if I had one) is happy and is learning should be equally important.

  7. I really do feel for the teachers who work so hard and see their school ranked. It can be so difficult to know how accurate the league tables really are

  8. kirsty says:

    I didn’t realise schools did league tables still! I think I’ll have so much to think about when I send my daughter to school in a few years time. There is so much pressure on teachers, schools and parents to help give the best education we can. So much needs to be done from a governments perspective to help our children for the future.

  9. hannah says:

    I don’t take these league tables too seriously. I agree, they don’t paint an entire picture. Some people take them too seriously

  10. Nadia says:

    This was an interesting read. Being from Denmark the system is so different there. My boy is not at school yet here xx

  11. We feel sorry for the teachers at these schools which are named and shamed in school league tables. Just as long as children are happy at school and receive a good education that’s all that matters. Academia isn’t everything.

  12. Linda Hobbis says:

    I think the government and council need to be honest here. School league tables are really to rank schools against one another to help out (I suspect) with budget allocation and the meeting of government targets. It certainly seems that way in Wales. There’s a huge difference between a school that might slip a couple of places on a league table and one which is failing – in the latter case the league tables won’t help because it will be obvious to everyone that that is the case. Our headmistress lectures us parents frequently on the fact that the school’s contribution to a child’s education is 30% – guess where the other 70% comes from – yep – us parents. I’m not a fan of home-schooling but if that stat is true then it implies if the school is rubbish you could actually do a better job at home!

  13. Christy says:

    My school was the top for league tables in the area and I have to say, I was bullied and after telling a teacher it got worse. My mum ended up extremely frustrated, and I skipped out a lot. I live in the same area and honestly, I don’t want my son to go there! Academics definitely aren’t everything.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    I don’t know what I would do if my school wasn’t performing as well as it should. As it stands our kids are going to the 8th best school in Scotland. Perhaps there’s a parent council you could join to see if things could improve?

  15. It is so true that league tables only show a snippet of the schools and nothing about how committed the staff are and how well some pupils are doing. I hope your son’s school isn’t feeling too disheartened.

  16. Ami Rose says:

    I disagree with them too and feel they cause unhealthy expectations. My school was in the opposite league table and we were all expected to excel and every subject, get straight As and all get our perfect jobs right away, it just doesn’t work like that!

    Ami xxx

  17. My kids are still in pre school so don’t know much about these things. But looking forward to when I start having parents evening and so on. I think teachers need more support.

  18. Rachel says:

    I’m not sure how much I agree or am interested in league tables but that might be because I don’t have children yet and believe if you have good teachers you will learn. So much pressure on schools, teachers and children as it is I think.

  19. Charli says:

    I’m always so skeptical of league tables. They don’t take into account that children may be naturally more suited to the arts or a sport. They just lump everyone in together. Surely its about support and nurture rather than academic performance.

    C x

  20. Clare says:

    I honestly never look at league tables. There are so many things that can impact on how well a school performs I just don’t think it’s worth worrying over. Our son starts secondary school this September and we’ve chosen the nearest high school where all his friends will be going. He’s doing really well at school and I’ve no doubt that will continue as he moves up.

  21. Oh gosh my mom and my dad were so into league tables (which I’m partly grateful for). I think standards are good, so long as the teachers nurture and care enough for the kids.

  22. Melanie says:

    I can only imagine the pressure for teachers with the tables. A child deserves a good start with an excellent education, but it all needs to be balanced out x

  23. A brilliant post. As both a teacher and a mummy, I totally agree that happiness is more important than any league table. Children learn best when they are happy.

  24. Sarah Bailey says:

    I think there is so much pressure on teachers these days to tick certain boxes which just isn’t fair on them and is a shame as sometimes kids do suffer as the teachers need to do other things rather than help.

  25. I’ve never really thought about league tables as I don’t have kids myself and I don’t remember my parents fretting over them when I went to school. As you’ve said being low isn’t necessarily a full picture of the school x

  26. Teachers have such a hard time these days – not only are the expected to do much more than teach, but then get put down by things like league tables. That said, it is important that there are standards and expectations, so that every child receives a quality education!

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