I’m sure many people have seen the news story about a school jettisoning pupils after the first half of their sixth form studies, and been properly horrified.
I’d hope we’d all agree that getting rid of pupils who’ve behaved appropriately, studied diligently and would benefit from remaining at the school or college is not acceptable just to secure the school’s league table position. We most certainly do owe a duty of care to our pupils, and if they get results that are good for them, but do not reflect honour and glory on the school, then the school just needs to suck it up. Here’s an article from the TES on the same theme
But (and you know there’s always a but)…
Sometimes it is in the interests of the pupil to, at the very least, question whether continuing is the right choice for them. If they have specific ambitions that they are not on track to achieve, then we need to tell them, not wait until they’ve spent more time and got a nasty shock after the full two years. If the year has been a bit of a disaster area for them, it doesn’t have to be about protecting the school’s reputation to suggest that dropping back a year and restarting the sixth form might be worth considering.
The other point is – society (and the powers that be) seem convinced that good results are in the gift of the school, not mainly attributable to the pupil. OK, this is drivel – unless we teach so badly as to put a ceiling on the pupil’s results, what they actually get will be much more to do with them than us, and so it should be! But if the idea is that we value all pupils and do our best to help them achieve what they want to achieve, whether or not it is prestigious, then it’s vital to stop judging schools on raw results. We have the situation now that every pupil who achieves less than what is deemed a “good” result – no matter how praiseworthy an achievement it is for them – has a depressing effect on the school’s standing in the league tables, increases the chance of OFSTED coming down like a ton of bricks and is liable to get the poor Head an earbashing from the governors. Yes, I call upon school leaders to be brave enough to withstand this pressure and stand up for their pupils – but why should they be put in this iniquitous position?