League tables "seem to have infested every area of our national life"

Posted on: 21 Jan 2016

Sue Hincks, Headmistress of Bolton School Girls' Division, compares the league tables to that of the Premiership and states that performance should be measured fairly whilst enabling individuals to reach their full potential...

Pity the lot of a football manager, whose team moves up or down in the league: a run of defeats will put the team closer to relegation, not to mention leading to his or her own resignation. When I became a headteacher, I was warned that headship can be as precarious as being in the Premiership, even though the financial compensation is not quite as rewarding. Grades, unlike goals, do not make the headlines week on week but today's publication of the summer's results can cause the same elation or sorrow as any match at the Emirates, let alone Yeovil's Huish Park.

I'm not sure if it is our sporting heritage which makes us so fond of league tables, but they seem to have infested every area of our national life. Schools, hospitals, police forces, train companies: all must have their key performance indicators in rank order so we can judge who is doing 'best'.

I don't doubt that the number of points scored is a good way of working out which football team should finish in which place in the league tables. I'm less sure that the number of A*-B grades achieved is the best way to judge a school's achievements. If I were choosing a team to support, I would want it to play fairly, enable its players to reach their potential, look after those players and the supporters, reflect on its performance and continually use that post-match analysis to strive to improve. Not very different from how I'd choose a school...

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