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Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 13:21 GMT
Call to scrap school league tables
Pupils sitting exams
The tables show performance in exams
School performance league tables have come under fire from critics who say they are divisive and should be scrapped.

The new Scottish Executive figures for state schools showed that exam performance this year was "broadly similar" to 2001.

The league tables show 22% of pupils across Scotland passed three or more Highers this year - traditionally the standard for university entrance.

And 76% of fourth year pupils gained five or more good Standard Grades - Level 4 or better on the new national qualifications framework.

East Renfrewshire was once again the best performing council with 93% of pupils gaining five or more good Standard Grades.

exam certificate
The league tables have been criticised

And it had almost double (41%) the average number of students with three or more Highers - Level 6 or better.

East Dunbartonshire, Stirling, South Ayrshire and Perth and Kinross were the next best performing local authority areas.

Glasgow City Council, which shares a boundary with East Renfrewshire, came bottom of the table.

It had just 4% of pupils achieving five or more Highers and 63% gaining at least five good passes at Standard Grade.

Click here for a table of authorities

Glasgow City Council's convener of education services, Councillor Bob Gray, said any form of league tables was "an unsatisfactory way of comparing schools".

"They take no account of deprivation and focus too narrowly on exam results," he said.

Social inclusion

Cllr Gray defended his city's exam results, saying that 40% of Glasgow's secondary schools had improved their Standard Grade awards compared with last year.

But critics said by publishing the results the Scottish Executive was at odds with its own policy.

They take no account of deprivation and focus too narrowly on exam results

Bob Gray
Glasgow City Council

The Scottish Parent Teacher Council claimed that concentrating on exam results went against the idea of social inclusion.

And the EIS teaching union said schools at the bottom of the table ended up unfairly being labelled "bad".

Scottish Tory education spokesman Brian Monteith said the figures revealed "a postcode lottery" for pupils in comprehensive education in Scotland.

The Scottish National Party's education spokesman, Michael Russell, said his party would scrap the league tables.

Ethos and management

He said the executive was the last of the UK's devolved administrations to continue publishing league tables.

"In Wales and Northern Ireland it has been recognised that parents deserve a much higher standard of support and that full information on schools - including funding, ethos and management - should be given through the publication of school handbooks," he said.

"However, the Thatcherite crass and cursory approach to league tables, still lives on in Jack McConnell's Scotland."

However, Education Minister Cathy Jamieson stressed that exam performance was only one indicator of a school's performance.

The quality of the education experience and the ethos of a school should also be taken into account, she said.

The table below shows the percentage of pupils who achieved five or more awards at Level 4 or better by the end of S4 - equivalent to Standard Grades 3-4 - and the percentage who achieved three or more awards at Level 6 or better by the end of their S5 year - equivalent to Higher Grades A-C.

Education authority STANDARD HIGHER
All Scotland 76% 22%
Aberdeen City 75% 22%
Aberdeenshire 88% 30%
Angus 79% 25%
Argyll & Bute 84% 22%
Clackmannanshire 66% 17%
Dumfries & Galloway 80% 25%
Dundee City 65% 16%
East Ayrshire 77% 19%
East Dunbartonshire 88% 34%
East Lothian 79% 22%
East Renfrewshire 93% 41%
Edinburgh City 73% 25%
Eilean Siar 86% 28%
Falkirk 70% 16%
Fife 77% 22%
Glasgow City 63% 12%
Highland 82% 24%
Inverclyde 81% 19%
Midlothian 75% 17%
Moray 84% 24%
North Ayrshire 76% 19%
North Lanarkshire 72% 17%
Orkney Islands 88% 26%
Perth & Kinross 78% 26%
Renfrewshire 79% 22%
Scottish Borders 83% 29%
Shetland Islands 91% 26%
South Ayrshire 78% 26%
South Lanarkshire 76% 23%
Stirling 80% 28%
West Dunbartonshire 73% 17%
West Lothian 73% 19%

Back to main text

Martha Fairlie reports
"Critics say performance tables don't reflect the true picture"
Judith Gillespie, Scottish Parent Teacher Council
"It is statistically absolutely rubbish"
See also:

13 Aug 02 | Scotland
29 Nov 01 | Scotland
13 Sep 01 | Scotland
14 Aug 01 | Scotland
14 Aug 01 | Scotland
22 Nov 99 | Education
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