RGS headteacher criticises Government's misleading school league tables

The headteacher at Newcastle’s Royal Grammar School has criticised the Government's misleading school league tables

Dr Bernard Trafford Headmaster of the Royal Grammar School, Jesmond
Dr Bernard Trafford Headmaster of the Royal Grammar School, Jesmond

The headteacher of one of the region’s top schools has publicised its position at the bottom of the GCSE league tables to highlight “wholly misleading” Government measurements.

The Royal Grammar School in Newcastle says none of its pupils achieving the Government target of getting five or more of its pupils getting good GCSEs including English and maths because they take a different exam in English.

RGS pupils take the International GCSE - which is recognised by universities and widely seen as being more rigorous than standard GCSEs - after headteacher Bernard Trafford became disillusioned with exam marking standards.

Yesterday he accused the Government of perpetuating “nonsense” by failing to reform league tables properly.

He said: “We changed from GCSEs to the international equivalent in most subjects out of frustration with the poor quality of questioning and marking, though particularly the latter. For some reason, unknown to me, the Government is excluding the excellent IGCSE our students take in English Language.

“Government chooses not to recognise a qualification that’s applauded by universities and employers alike. So we’ll go with those more discerning bodies and ignore government whose arbitrary measures are wholly misleading.

“We’ve been there before. Previously it was the IGCSE in maths that, for no sensible reason, Government chose not to put in its list of recognised subjects. Then they included it, so we got a score for a couple of years.

“This silly scoring doesn’t hurt the school or its students - indeed, it gives us an opportunity to point out a Government nonsense. But it is plain daft.”

Three times in the last five years, the RGS score for five A*-C grades, including English and maths, at GCSE has been zero, or very low. If the international GCSE had been recognised, its score this year would have been 99.3%, making it one of the best schools in the North.

Dr Trafford also criticised the Government’s way of measuring A-levels, saying the measure of average points score for pupils taking A-levels gives parents little useful information.

“Examinations have become so massive in this country,” said Dr Trafford. “There are too many papers to do and not enough good markers.

“At one time, it was about assessing what you had learned throughout the year, but now everything has to be tested. The Government doesn’t trust teachers to do their jobs.”


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