Ofsted to challenge schools that use exam entries ‘against pupils’ interests’ to climb league tables

Schools might be entering pupils for qualifications that are not in their best interest, Ofsted’s letter to inspectors warns

Schools watchdog Ofsted has told its inspectors to look out for schools that are attempting to boost their league table scores by entering pupils for subjects with overlapping content.

A letter from the inspectorate published today, said analysis of last year’s exam results showed some schools might have “entered pupils for qualifications specifically to improve overall school results, although this may not have been in the best interests of the pupils”.

It said: “This occurred when large numbers of pupils were entered for combinations of qualifications with subject content that overlapped substantially.”

This could affect schools’ scores on accountability measures such as the proportion of pupils with five GCSEs at grades A* to C and Progress 8, the new accountability measure being introduced at all schools from this year, it said.

The letter tells inspectors to “identify any subjects with a substantially higher percentage of entry than the national figure”.

They should look for double entries in subjects that overlapped with English such as English as a second language and English studies, as well as subjects that overlapped with maths such as statistics and free standing maths qualifications.

“They should then explore with the school whether entry patterns have been made in the best interests of the pupils,” it says.

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