Michael Gove Floats Student League Table Rankings To Help Universities 'Choose Brightest'
A-level pupils could be ranked according to exam grades in an attempt to help universities select the brightest candidates from the increasing number of top-grade students under an idea floated by the education secretary.
The national ranking, which will grade the teenagers from first to up to nearly 90,000th, has been touted by Michael Gove as a way to remodel the A-level grading system. The table would show clearly who was at the top - and bottom - of the class and allow teenagers to compare their performance with their peers.
Gove outlined the proposals in a speech to qualification and exam regulator Ofqual and cited Burlington Danes Academy, West London. The academy has already set up a system which ranks pupils privately ever half term and publishes the table every term.
"If ranking can achieve that in one school in White City, if additional data and transparency can generate those beneficial results, is there a case for exam boards publishing more data about the performance of students, rather than less?" the education secretary said.
But there has been widespread concern over the new idea.
General secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) Brian Lightman said:
"We do not want to encourage a system which sets up bright young people to fail. If students meet the required standard, they should be awarded the grade. A national ranking of students would need to be thought through carefully. It could motivate those students at top end. However, for certain students, for instance with learning difficulties, getting Ds and Es at GCSE is a significant achievement."
In his speech to Ofqual, Gove also described plans to cap the number of A* grades which could be awarded in A-level exams, after fears they were becoming worthless were voiced in August.
Gove told the conference "Could it be the case that while we award As, Bs and Cs entirely on the basis of criterion reached, is there a case for exploring whether or not A*s should be allocated only to a fixed percentage of candidates?"
The league table rankings could be passed on to parents, pupils and universities.
But Gove insisted he only wanted to "open up the debate" about changing the A-level system.
It could be a "completely wrongheaded" idea, he added. "But I put it out there explicitly for debate."