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Do academies get better results?

Schools that push pupils into taking “GCSEs in karaoke” and courses in word processing in an attempt to boost their league table positions are to face renewed scrutiny from the Department for Education and Ofsted inspectors.

The DfE said it was looking closely at GCSE-equivalent qualifications such as the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL), which can be taught in as little as three days but is equivalent in the DfE’s league tables to a two-year GCSE such as history.

Entries to the ECDL – which requires pupils to use Microsoft Office software such as Excel and PowerPoint – have rocketed, with the number of qualifications awarded rising from fewer than 2,000 in 2014 to more than 30,000 a year later.

Although the DfE has gone to considerable effort to stamp out “soft options”, the pressure of league tables has driven schools to enrol pupils in qualifications such as the ECDL or Trinity College London’s exam in “rock and pop” vocals.


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