Secondary school league tables to return in 2021-22

league tables

Secondary school league tables will be brought back next academic year after being suspended for two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has said.

But primary schools will not see their test results published in national league tables for another year.

The Department for Education has today confirmed school and college accountability arrangements for the 2021-22 academic year. It comes after the government set out its plans for adaptations to GCSEs and A-levels next year.

It said results from key stage 4 and post-16 qualifications in 2021-22 will be published in school and college performance tables using the government’s “normal suite of accountability measures, as far as that is possible”.

The DfE said it was reintroducing league tables for secondary qualifications because “after two years without publication of performance data, it is important that this information is publicly available to parents and students to support them when choosing schools and post-16 institutions, given the importance of qualification outcomes to student progression”.

However, it said it recognised the “uneven impact on schools and colleges of the pandemic”, and will “ensure clear messages are placed on the performance tables to advise caution when drawing conclusions from the 2021-22 data”.

Qualification results achieved in 2021-22 “will also count towards school and college performance measures in future years”.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL leadership union, said it was “absolutely nonsensical to publish secondary school and college performance tables next year given the greatly differing extent to which pupils’ learning has been affected by the pandemic”.

“It is impossible to make meaningful comparisons of performance across such a disrupted landscape and publishing data which may be heavily affected by circumstances could damage schools and colleges which have been hit hardest by the effects of Covid.”

DfE will need to ‘adjust’ how it calculates some performance measures

As a result of the pandemic, the government said it would not publish school-level results data in 2020 or 2021, and that the data would not be used to hold schools to account.

As a result, the DfE said it would need to “adjust the way that we calculate some performance measures at both key stage 4 and 16-18 stages for 2021-22 to take account of the fact that results of qualifications achieved in 2019-20 and 2020-21 will not be included”.

The changes to methodology “will be designed to minimise the impact of gaps in data for schools and colleges”. For example, at 16-18 level, the government “will not be able to use KS4 baseline data from 2019-20 or 2020-21, which will affect the 16-18 value added measure and the English and maths progress measure in 2021-22 and future years”.

“We will need to confirm whether these measures can be produced. Details of these adjustments will be available in technical guidance in due course.”


Primary tests won’t be included

Education secretary Gavin Williamson announced in June that the government was planning for “a full programme of primary assessments in the 2021-22 academic year”.

But because these tests are due to return for the first time since 2019 and without “any adaptations”, the DfE confirmed today that results will not be published in key stage 2  performance tables in the next academic year.

The government will still produce the “normal suite” of key stage 2 accountability measures at school level and “share these securely with primary schools, academy trusts, local authorities and Ofsted for school improvement purposes and to help identify schools most in need of support”.

This will be a “transitional arrangement for the first year in which primary assessments return”, and the government said it intends to publish primary assessment data in performance tables again in academic year 2022-23.

KS2 results from 2021-22 “will also be used to calculate Progress 8 baselines for future institution-level progress measures”.


Data will be used for ‘improvement purposes’

The DfE has said today that, as before the pandemic, data from all key stages will be used by “schools, academy trusts, local authorities and others for improvement purposes and by Ofsted to inform inspections”.

But as always, inspection judgements “will not be based on any single piece of data alone and Ofsted will use this data with caution and take the Covid-19 context into account when forming a rounded judgment about a school or college”.

The DfE also said it planned to publish national, regional, and local authority level educational performance data for KS2, KS4 and 16-18 for the 2021-22 academic year, including “information by pupil characteristic and school or college type”.


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  1. Victoria Jaquiss

    So the Spanish Inquisition is back. Veering between pointless and cruel, league tables tell nobody anything. Parents have no real choice. Ideally their children should attend school near where they live. Crossing the city to go to school where nobody from their neighbourhood goes is isolating and risky for any child; it is time-wasting and contributes to climate change.

    There is so much that is wrong with league tables for schools and it has all been said before. But if the university students who presently live in Leeds 6 are anything to go by, they may have some good A levels, but they underdeveloped socially and are a menace to society. Measure that, Gavin!