With the latest league tables released last week the question arises once again, are these a useful tool to assist parents in choosing the right school? My advice is to be wary of giving these more than a quick glance.
A league table ordering schools according to the percentage attaining top grades doesn’t take into account whether or not the school is selective. If there are 5 or 6 applicants per place, it would be very disappointing if students didn’t attain excellent grades and hence top the league tables. As such, this doesn’t seem to give parents a true reflection of the key attributes of any school, selective or not.
For parents with bright children, this is of course an important factor. However for parents with children of average academic ability, talents in other areas or all-rounders, it is more important to compare academic attainment of alumni against initial potential, as well as the quality of the value added curriculum to build confidence, challenge and develop a whole range of skills.
I can’t help thinking that a league table listing schools according to the percentage of alumni who secured employment upon leaving or post-university might be of more use in the current climate. I was fascinated to hear from a school Head last week that he does not consider his job done until every one of his leavers has secured a job, even if they have been to university in-between. He said, ‘What is any school for but to ensure its leavers have the right skills, qualifications and confidence to secure a job?’
The most important thing to remember when choosing a school is that your child is an individual with their own personality, strengths, weaknesses, motivation and interests. As such, the right school will be the one which enables them to achieve their maximum all-round potential. Not just measured through academic attainment reflected through exam results, but also success in the value-added curriculum.