Faculties below scrutiny in crackdown on league desk ‘gaming’

Schools that push pupils into taking “GCSEs in karaoke” and publications in word processing to increase their league table positions are to stand renewed scrutiny from the branch for education and Ofsted inspectors.

The DfE stated it changed into looking closely at GCSE-equal qualifications consisting of the eu pc riding Licence (ECDL), which may be taught in as low as 3 days but is equal in the DfE’s league tables to a -year GCSE including history.

Faculties below scrutiny in crackdown on league desk 'gaming' 1

Entries to the ECDL – which requires scholars to apply Microsoft workplace software including Excel and PowerPoint – have rocketed, with the wide variety of qualifications presented growing from fewer than 2,000 in 2014 to an extra than 30,000 a yr later.

Even though the DfE has long passed to a good-sized effort to stamp out “gentle alternatives,” the strain of league tables has driven colleges to enrol students in qualifications such as the ECDL or Trinity University London’s exam in “rock and pa” vocals.

The Trinity College London qualification calls for no sight studying or idea, in contrast to TCL’s reputable track certificates. It allows entrants to choose three songs, together with smooth cell’s Tainted Love or Tammy Wynette’s Stand by way of Your man, in addition to tracks by Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston.

One headteacher, who did know not want to be identified, stated: “this is a GCSE in karaoke, in impact; however, if other colleges are going to apply it, what desire can we have? It’s canine eat dog, and the DfE should now not have allowed this to be counted for [league table] points.”

With some schools now entering entire year organizations for the ECDL, there was a backlash from headteachers who say the qualification isn’t in the exceptional hobbies of scholars, even though it allows enhance a school’s league table result.
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Tom Sherrington, the headteacher of Highbury Grove college in Islington, London, stated: “This feels like a shortcut. It diminishes the whole machine by way of allowing in rogue equivalents like this. Is the ECDL equivalent to a two-year GCSE direction in history or physics? No, everyone can see that.”

But Sherrington stated the strain on schools to keep their league table positions supposed that “if anybody else is doing it, it’s hard to be immune. I need the gadget to exchange so that we don’t just do this.”

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A DfE source said the department had raised the issue of the ECDL with Ofqual, which’s responsible for regulating qualifications. The supply stated the ECDL and similar publications might be excluded from the DfE’s league tables from 2019, except they have been proved to be as sturdy as traditional GCSE topics.

Meanwhile, Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director for schooling, said that schools getting into complete cohorts for the ECDL have been at the hazard of being marked down in destiny Ofsted inspections. “If faculties are choosing to do certain matters that just get them factors, instead of for the advantage of the kids and their futures, we can take that under consideration and make their judgment accurately,” Harford instructed the instances educational complement (TES).

The DfE stated: “we’re pleased to listen. Ofsted is looking into this, and we can comply with up with the inspectorate. We’ve got reformed the duty device so only 86f68e4d402306ad3cd330d005134dac courses are counted. Our new development eight-measure need to encompass core academic subjects together with English, maths, technological know-how and an overseas language.”
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Entries to the ECDL soared after it changed into promoted with the aid of the PiXL club, a community of secondary schools that have grown swiftly in current years as neighborhood authorities have reduced in size in importance.

PiXL club contributors obtained reductions on entering scholars for the ECDL. An electronic mail from PiXL to more than 1,000 secondary faculties stated pupils would be prepared for the pc-based totally check-in “three or 4 extensive days”.

A DfE source said: “We assume all colleges to help college students pick topics in order to assist them to pass on to succeed in life and we might be extraordinarily upset to listen of any agency encouraging schools to enter younger humans for publications just to ‘recreation’ the machine.”

Ofsted and PiXL are understood to be assembled next week to speak about the difficulty. PiXL did now not respond to a request for comment, but Sir John Rowling, PiXL’s chair, advised the TES: “We are wholeheartedly behind Ofqual and Ofsted in any paintings they do to find folks who are abusing the system.”

An Ofqual spokesman stated: “Ofqual’s role is to adjust qualifications to ensure their validity. College students’ qualifications selections are a be counted for them and their faculties, at the same time as league tables are a matter for the DfE.”

Prof Alan Smithers of Buckingham college said: “you can’t blame the schools. They may be playing to the guidelines to expose themselves to the best viable mild. It’s far for the DfE, if it desires to keep faculties for accounting on this manner, to border the Attainment 8 and Progress 8 measures in order that they best encompass valuable qualifications.”