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ROW CONTINUES OVER MERIT OF LEAGUE TABLES

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The publication of the schools league tables this week has once more focused attention on the worth of national com...
The publication of the schools league tables this week has once more focused attention on the worth of national comparison of local authority performances.

While conceding that information should be made available to the public, authorities claim it is being used to make meaningless performance comparisons across the country.

Those councils which fared badly in the tables do accept they need to take action. Phil Kelly, education chair of Islington LBC, the authority with the worst set of GCSE results in England, said:

'These results are not acceptable: schools and the council agree on this. We are pulling out all the stops to improve exam results.'

Nevertheless, in a statement, the director of education Hilary Nicolle alluded to an unpublished report from the Office for Standards in Education which suggests that raw exams data should not be taken at face value.

According to a report in the Observer, Ofsted has analysed results over the past four years with weighting factors such as social factors and found that schools in the shires and London suburbs are as likely to be failing as inner city schools.

Alan Parker, education officer for the Association of Metropolitan Authorities described the league tables as 'a thing of sound and fury, signifying nothing'.

'We are not saying this information should not be published,' he said, 'but central government is the wrong body to do this - it's not their business and they don't do it very well.'

The Department for Education and Employment, which published the figures, said the exercise was part of its pledge to give power back to parents and children. 'It's what the prime minister's Citizen's Charter initiative is all about and why the Parent's Charter has proved such a success,' said education and employment minister Lord Henley.

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