Published: 09:00, 19 October 2017
A city grammar school says it will be forced to teach a “boring and insipid” GCSE course after its decision to shun GCSE English this year saw it plunge to the bottom of controversial league tables.
Simon Langton Boys’ opted in the spring for its pupils to sit IGCSEs in English – which it considers to be more rigorous and stimulating than the standard course.
It meant none of the 133 pupils who sat the exam contributed an English grade to official statistics, heavily skewing performance tables in which the school traditionally performs well.
Head of school Ken Moffat says the Langton was willing to sacrifice its league position to offer the alternative courses, which are also taught at the King’s School.
“The standard English GCSEs have for 10 years been really boring and insipid courses which have turned kids off studying English at A-level,” he said.
“We felt the IGCSEs were intellectually more challenging, more stimulating and more pleasurable courses to both teach and study.
“Why some idiot of a mandarin in Whitehall should decide that they can’t count in official statistics doesn’t make any sense to me and is a decision that could only be made in a culture that values league tables and results above all else in education.”
"We stuck with what we were doing because we believed it was right and it exposes the stupidity which lies at the heart of education thinking in this country..." - head of school Ken Moffat
Since last year schools have been rated on the controversial Progress 8 score, which measures the progress of GCSE pupils against those of an equivalent ability when leaving primary school. A score above zero indicates positive progress.
With no English GCSEs to factor in, Langton Boys’ scored -1.37 – by far the worst in the district.
If the IGCSEs had been recognised, the school’s Progress 8 score would have been 0.27 – a result only bettered locally by Langton Girls’ and Barton Court.
Now the school, which has already faced flack on Facebook for its perceived “poor performance”, has decided to revert to the standard English language course next spring.
“I can’t say I’m thrilled about it,” said Mr Moffat.
“We stuck with what we were doing because we believed it was right and it exposes the stupidity which lies at the heart of education thinking in this country.
“But there’s a point when courage turns into stupidity.
“You run the risk of being traduced so wantonly on social media to the point where people do actually start to believe the propaganda.”
Department for Education spokesman Chloe Goody said: “We announced in 2014 that once the reformed GCSEs were introduced, IGCSEs would no longer be recognised in league tables as they have not been through the same approval and quality control process as the new gold standard GCSEs.
“Our reforms to GCSEs provide more rigorous content while the new grading system provides greater stretch for the highest performers, by more distinction between the top marks.
“These changes will help young people to compete with the best in the world and deliver the skills that employers tell us they need.
“Progress 8 makes the system of measuring school performance fairer by focusing on progress and taking prior attainment into account.”
More by this authorJoe Walker