16 August 2009

League Tables need to reflect employers views

I really like Michael Gove's thinking over School League tables.

There is no doubt that some schools have changed their systems solely to improve where they stand in the league tables, and a strong suspicion that this is often against the best interests of some of their students.

The question we need to ask is; which system is most likely to get a school to encourage a student to take a course that stretches them and tests their ability? Certainly not one where a Media Studies degree rates the same as Maths, History or English, even though an employer rates the latter more strongly

When I visited Cambridge earlier this year, I heard an admissions tutor say that they wouldn't look seriously at certain A Levels and that they would give more weight to others. When it comes down to it, our league tables and how we weight exams must be based around how Universities and employers rate them, not on a piece of wishful thinking from the Government.

Does that make some exams second rate. Only if people portray it that way. It is just a case of the right exams for the right students. The same argument has been made about FE. There is nothing second rate about FE colleges - they are just as vital as Universities, just different. We need plumbers just as much as we need teachers and barristers (arguably more than we need barristers).

That is the point of education - it is about developing young people and getting them on the stepping stone to the right career. Part of that is about stretching them and encouraging them to do better. Weighting exams is more likely to ensure that this stretch is in the system.

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