League tables double struggling schools

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The number of schools failing to meet government benchmarks on GCSE grades and progress has doubled to 330 schools as a result of changes to make exams more rigorous.

The changes to the system include harder exams, a ban on re-sits and some vocational and academic qualifications being removed from league tables.

As a result, many reputable private schools have ended up at the bottom of the GCSE tables, despite dominating the top of the A-level tables and sending many pupils to some of the best universities.

In some independent schools and many state schools, pupils have been studying International GCSEs, which have ceased to be recognised in the tables. As a result, even schools such as Eton, Harrow, Winchester and St Paul's scored 0% in the government's benchmark measure of five good GCSEs including English and maths. Schools with fewer than 40% of pupils reaching this are deemed to be failing.

Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, told the Telegraph that private schools should drop international GCSE qualifications because they are not as challenging or rigorously assessed as their traditional counterparts.

Defending her view that independent schools would revert to conventional GCSEs following the government overhaul of the exams, she said: “By introducing new, higher-quality GCSEs, we have ensured that the qualifications used in league tables are, and remain, rigorous.

“As part of this crucial process, we stripped out all unregulated International GCSEs, or IGCSEs, as they do not have to go through the same tough approval process as GCSEs - and in some cases are not as challenging.”

School performance data shows that on average 56.6% of pupils in state schools in England achieved the benchmark of five good GCSEs including maths and English. This is a decline of 4% on 2013, when 60.6% of pupils in state schools reached this benchmark.

From this year, only a pupil's first attempt at a qualification is included for league table purposes.

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