Understanding Important League Tables: Why are football league tables flawed?

2 January 2012

What do the football league tables show? I would suggest that the league tables show which team has the best players not which team produces the best players. If I get a foreign billionaire (possibly Russian) to buy my local team and then use his money to buy the world’s best players and finally win every league and cup available I have not produced the best team, I have bought it.

Now let’s look at schools. If I take over my local school and only take the brightest pupils and come at the top of the league tables haven’t I just done the same as the Russian Billionaire?

We have two very different situations here. I think that though it is ok to rank football teams on how good they are in absolute terms I do think school league tables based around 5 A-C’s or the number of A* pupils are seriously flawed. Really to understand which schools are the best we don’t want to know who can take the best pupils and let them coast for 5 years, rather we want schools that take pupils and help them progress.

Measures in the UK like Contextual Value Added (CVA) have already been created to try and capture what value schools add to their pupils. This measure like any other that will be invented also has a large number of detractors. The problem with the league tables around 5 A-C’s and CVA is that they do not take into account all the other things schools offer their pupils.

Teachers work hard every day running sports clubs, drama clubs and taking pupils on trips. As a parent I think it is wise not just to use one league table or one measure to pick a school but make the effort to find out what else the school has to offer. And a final note speaking from personal experience, if your child is already in a school any parental help offered on trips or at weekly practices/ rehearsals would be much appreciated.
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