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Last Updated: Monday, 15 December 2003, 12:24 GMT
Exam tables replaced with website
Exam - generic
The league table system is being abolished
A new website designed to replace Scotland's school exam league tables has gone online.

The Scottish Executive said it had done away with the old performance tables in order to give parents more relevant and clearer information.

The website, accessed through the executive's parentzone Scotland site, will still feature statistics about an individual school's exam performance.

Despite the change, there are concerns the information will not be clear.

League tables were criticised for failing to show the wider picture.

The raw exam data did not reflect vocational courses, or social and economic factors.

The website, which was launched on Monday, provides a helpline number and a wide variety of information, including:

  • Exam results
  • Inspection reports
  • Free school meals entitlement
  • Leave of absence statistics
  • Links to school websites.

Education Minister Peter Peacock said he wanted to make things more user-friendly for parents.

"We are offering a more powerful set of information for parents then we ever had in the past," he said.

The new website still provides statistics on exam performance, but it does not simply show the proportion of pupils who have passed exams.

Peter Peacock with primary school children
Peter Peacock: "More simplistic tables"
Instead, the numbers have been re-jigged based on the number of pupils who were in the school in fourth year.

Alan Smith, president of the Scottish School Boards Association, said parents would be confused.

"This is not based on actuality, it is saying this is what we used to have. Parents will be coming into this brand new and it could be confusing, it needs explaining," he predicted.

But Mr Peacock said he saw no need at the current time to stop making public exam performances.

He went on: "I would not make any representation about changing particular aspects of the statistics base."

People wanted to move on from "simplistic league tables" and something more rounded, which is what would now be provided for the first time in Scotland.

Links to reports

Information provided for each school includes its exam results for the past three years, attendance and absence rates, school leaver destinations, and the proportion of pupils taking free meals.

The site also contains links to school inspection reports and individual school websites.

Pupils who started their career here and moved on are still counted as a percentage when they do the calculations for league tables
Gordon Shaw
Head teacher
Judith Gillespie, development manager for the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, praised the changes for pulling together several strands of information and putting them in one place.

"It is a huge improvement, a massive improvement because it draws the information together and puts it in context in a much more meaningful way," she said.

Lochend Community High School has just won a national award for a vocational training project, but in last year's secondary school league tables it ranked among the worst in Scotland.

'Degree of unfairness'

Head teacher Gordon Shaw said: "In the league tables they only show a small picture of what a school is about and clearly it doesn't display a lost of hard work which goes on."

"The population in our area tends to move around considerably, inside and outside the city.

"So there is a degree of unfairness that pupils who started their career here and moved on are still counted as a percentage when they do the calculations for league tables."

The Scottish National Party's education spokeswoman, Fiona Hyslop, said; "The SNP has campaigned to have school league tables abolished and I am pleased that the Scottish Executive has now launched an alternative."

The Conservatives' education spokesman, James Douglas-Hamilton, said: "I am pleased that the education minister has seen sense and listened not just to us but more importantly to the parents of Scotland's school children by allowing them access to meaningful comparisons between schools' performances."

The executive says that any comments or queries about education in Scotland should be directed to its central enquiry unit at ceu@scotland.gov.uk or on 08457 741741.

More school info to go on the web
11 Nov 03 |  Education
Call to scrap school league tables
27 Nov 02 |  Scotland

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