There is no such thing as a ‘bog standard comprehensives’ when it comes to deciding which students are entered for GCSE examinations such as French, Geography or History, according to a new Economic and Social Research Council-funded study published today.
Researchers from Staffordshire University and the University of Durham found that there were big variations between and within schools in the extent to which students are entered for different GCSE subjects. Those differences had little to do with whether the school was a comprehensive or not. The factors that mattered most were the extent to which subject departments within a school competed with each other and the social background of a student’s schoolmates.
The study looked at the different patterns of GCSE entries at 664 schools in 1998, in a sample that involved more than 112,000 students. Seven subjects were examined: History, Geography, French, German, Spanish, Business Studies and Home Economics. “We found that there was a great variation between schools in each of the seven subjects that we investigated,” says Prof Peter Davies, co-director of Staffordshire University’s Institute for Education Policy Research, who led the research. “But, only a small proportion of that variation could be accounted for by the type of students attending the school, or whether or not the school is grammar, comprehensive or specialist. Factors within each individual school most affected which exams pupils took. So, the idea of a ‘bog standard comprehensive’ is a myth.”
Becky Gammon | alfa
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