Why should parents be wary of independent school league tables?
We are all used to hearing so much in the media every August about examination results at GCSE and A level and the publication of the latest league tables, so we can compare the achievements of one school with another. Of course the results of these examinations play an important part of evaluating the success of a school, however all parents should remember when considering potential schools for their children, that there is so much more to the educational programme of an independent school than simply their past examination results. League tables should therefore only be a small part of the long list of factors that you take into consideration when putting together your potential school short-list.
Independent schools provide an education which is not just about examination results, it is also about:
- Acquiring knowledge and learning how to apply it effectively within the world of work.
- Offering individual support to every child so that they can attain their individual potential in a whole range of curriculum areas, at whatever level that may be.
- Developing the ability to think for oneself, challenge and question.
- Developing communication skills, confidence and independence.
- Developing a sense of community and awareness of others.
- Engaging in a whole range of diverse experiences to find new hobbies and interests which can be continued into adult life.
- Identifying potential careers of interest, as well as being advised on the best education pathway towards achieving them.
- Developing an awareness of how to lead a healthy lifestyle.
- Developing employability skills including those needed for presentation, interview, time management, reliability, responsibility, decision making and leadership.
- When reviewing the educational provision of the schools you are considering, ask yourself do they provide a holistic approach to education through all of all the above and how?
Admissions policy and league tables
In terms of league table position, one should also consider carefully the admissions criteria for entry to the schools you are considering. Schools with highly competitive and selective entry, which admit only the brightest of the numerous applicants, should be delivering top examination results. Better than that in my opinion, are the schools which are less competitive and academically selective in their admissions process, but still achieve top grades in exams, since these would appear to have delivered beyond expectation, rather than simply met it.
A diversity of achievement
Lastly, there are many successes achieved annually in independent schools, quite apart by those achieved in examinations. Sport, drama, art, music, public speaking, design and technology, Young Enterprise, Duke of Edinburgh, to name but a few. These in my view should be taken into account as proof of success an attaining all-round education, which, alongside examination results, is so important in these days of highly competitive university entry, internship or job interview.