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League tables of school results are often criticised for being simplistic. What many educationalists want to see instead are “added value” tables. These would take account of the abilities of pupils when they join the school and thus reflect the difference the school has made to them. However, new research from Cambridge University suggests that this may not be the full answer. It reports that 45 per cent of pupils are actually worse at reading after a year at secondary school, compared to when they left primary school. In other words, we may be forced to measure “subtracted value”, too.

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