Michael Gove has taken steps to reform GCSE league tables to try to remove gaming - taking away most of the 'vocational equivalents' and introducing a new '8 GCSE' league table that takes account of all students' performance, not just those who gain grades 'C' and above. But he also intends to retain the 'E-Bacc' and newer 'A-Bacc' tables - both of which seem highly susceptible to gaming.
The educational issues are widely discussed, but what is the marketing viewpoint on this? Many teachers see marketing as something flashy - advertising, PR, glossy brochures. But that's not what it's about - the definition I've used most is 'identifying and satisfying the needs of customers'.
You don't meet the needs of students if you choose not to enter them for GCSE Science but choose a BTEC because they will do 'better' in it, as I saw in a school I visited in my first term teaching - but then close off the chance of that student studying A-level science. You don't meet the needs of students by focusing all your attention on the C/D borderline and ignoring the most and least able. And you don't meet the needs of students by 'helping' with their coursework - again something I've seen far too much of - not least because they will be caught out later in their careers or fail in jobs when they have to carry out their own independent research.
What should schools be doing? The best schools I've seen (both state and private), focus on individuals. Of course, there are constraints - timetables, physical space, money of course - but these schools listen to each child regularly and work together to set and meet individual goals. One great outcome is that students begin to realise that education is for their benefit - there is nothing worse than students who feel only formal qualifications matter and keep asking 'is this in the exam?'. This dialogue also opens up the idea of other ways of succeeding - such as the excellent Extended Project Qualification, or extra-curricular activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
And it helps your formal marketing as well! Once there is a dialogue with students, it is easier to find the stories of excellence - the stories that will persuade others to join your school. In the longer term, it is the way to build an excellent school.