School league tables ‘not a level playing field’

Daily Echo: Southampton City College Southampton City College

PRINCIPALS at two Hampshire colleges have criticised the Government’s league tables for unfairly reflecting their performance.

Results published yesterday portray Totton College and Southampton City College as exam flops.

Totton College saw its average point score per student fall by 13.7 per cent.

City College saw its plummet by 37.5 per cent, with its score of 415.5 starkly contrasting with the Southampton average of 665.8.

But its principal, Lindsey Noble, said the results fudged the true performance of the school, which she believed was similar to last year’s.

She said: “It is not a level playing field. You are not comparing apples with apples, rather apples with pears.”

It comes after the college benefited from a £48m revamp of its St Mary’s campus.

A hair and beauty salon, a full TV studio as part of a media suite with £1m worth of equipment, and a 200-seat professional theatre are among the facilities included in the new Hub and Aspire buildings.

An improved restaurant and kitchens, complete with modern induction cookers, gives those taking courses the vital chance to test their new-found skills in a full working environment.

However, Mrs Noble said the vocational focused approach meant the college could not be compared with schools that mainly teach academic Alevel courses, which carry a higher point score.

She said: “This year’s average point score per student does not compare like with like, and therefore shows a drop. This is because this year the figure is additionally incorporating all our students, including apprentices and those studying part-time.”

Nearly one half of students are carrying out vocational and apprenticeship courses at the college. It is in the top five per cent of colleges in England, with rates currently at 86 per cent for 16- to 18-year-olds at advanced level.

Mrs Noble said colleges with a high amount of vocational and part-time courses should now petition the Government statisticians.

Totton College head Mike Gaston, who has up to 18 per cent doing vocational and apprentice courses, said: “Lindsey is right, they are not comparing like for like. Our drop is not as dramatic as City College’s because the proportion is not as big.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “In future, academic, vocational and occupation-specific qualifications will be in separate columns. This is fairer and creates a level playing field.

A-levels and vocational qualifications are different – it is right that they are judged separately from each other.”

Comments (1)

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2:14pm Fri 25 Jan 13

housewife says...

I agree with the heads.
Certain colleges are known to be academic - so will have a surfeit of kids getting A levels and going on to Uni (Peter Symonds etc).
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Other colleges provide the essential training that keeps our cars on the road and our buildings maintained.
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I bet Sparsholt did not have many AAB academic A levels either - for incredibly obvious reasons.
I agree with the heads. Certain colleges are known to be academic - so will have a surfeit of kids getting A levels and going on to Uni (Peter Symonds etc). . Other colleges provide the essential training that keeps our cars on the road and our buildings maintained. . I bet Sparsholt did not have many AAB academic A levels either - for incredibly obvious reasons. housewife
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