Tuesday 22 May 2018

'League tables' do not tell back story of schools or pupils

The Chief Schools' lnspector Harold Hislop
The Chief Schools' lnspector Harold Hislop
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

School "league tables" can be a crude comparison and do not tell the back story of how pupils in one school are struggling with disadvantage of one kind or another, while a postcode away, students are enjoying all the benefits that, perhaps, money can buy, such as smaller classes and better facilities.

Yes, money can talk in education, but it is not only money that makes a difference.

Families with a strong inter-generational culture of education pass down those values, and children born into a home without such a strength may find it hard to catch up.

Teachers and school climate matter too when it comes to a child's educational success.

We know that some schools have a superb record in enrolling, and supporting, children with a special educational need, and others do not.

Irish parents have a huge interest in education and seek the best for their children, so they want to know as much as possible about how a school operates .

So-called "league tables" may not be perfect, but they are one of the few measures of the system that parents have.

The Chief Schools' lnspector Harold Hislop acknowledged as much in a speech last year, when he spoke about the restrictions imposed by the Education Act on the official release of certain information, the very type that might lead to the publication of "league tables"

He also referred to the public accountability obligation of the system, suggesting that officialdom probably needed to start facing up to the challenge, if not duty, of providing a better alternative to the "supercial attractiveness and simplicity" of league tables. Perhaps that time has come.

Irish Independent

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