Should school league tables be about more than results?

Checking the school league tables when your son or daughter is moving up to secondary school or swapping primary school has become an important step for many parents. While the academic results a school achieves is a factor that many consider when applying, should the league tables focus on more than just exams and grades?

At the moment school league tables have plenty of information on exam results, such as the number of key stage 2 pupils that have achieved a level 4 or above in reading, writing and maths or the number of students receiving more than 5 GCSEs graded a C or above. Through the tables parents can also see how much progress pupils have made, which can be an indicator for how well your child would develop if they attended. However, the current system has been criticised.

Sir Anthony Seldon, a university head and former head teacher of an independent school, argues that well-being and happiness should be the top priority when selecting a school. He called for well-being to be reflected in school league tables in order to make comparisons, stating that schools were not being encouraged enough to tackle “avoidable suffering”.

Seldon made the comments during World Mental Health Day adding, “As long as the only metric on which schools are being assessed is their exam performance, our schools will never have the incentive to take wellbeing as seriously as they should.”

The mental health of children and young people has been a growing concern, with recent figures showing a quarter of a million children are receiving help from the NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. Other pieces of research have shown that more young people are feeling under pressure and unhappy, when compared to previous decades.

While of course academic results are important, a parents’ main question will typically be “will my child be happy here?”. Looking at the what the school can offer on a wider basis, such as sports to take part in or music lessons, can be just as important. If you’re looking a new school for your child but want to take more than academic results into consideration, there are some steps you can take:

  • Visit the school – There’s no better way to get a feel for a school than to actually visit it. Many schools hold open days and will be more than happy to accommodate you should want to take a look around.
  • Speak to parents – If you can find parents whose children already attend the school your considering it’s a great way to understand how the school is run, how happy the children are and anything else you’re interested in.
  • Check out School Reviewer – You can have a look at reviews for schools in your area via School Reviewer. You’ll be able to see what parents think and discuss any concerns you have.
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