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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:29 pm 
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Ok, so I've noticed on several threads there has been a discussion about whether a child can do "well" in any school. This may or may not be the case, but it will always presumably depend on what you mean by doing "well."

People often throw around the A-C grade % at gcse to say whether a school is doing well, but surely if you think your child is academic then you don't necessarily care that 100% of the children in one school got 5C grades? In the same way, if your DC is less academic then you may be overjoyed that he or she has achieved 5Cs :)

I think what I'm trying to say is that whether your child is doing "well" is subjective and really depends on whether you think they will achieve or are achieving their potential (however one judges potential :? )

I was looking at the Department of Education statistics in relation to a couple of schools and it struck me that one of the most interesting statistics on there is the average grade at gcse achieved by high, middle and low achievers. At my DDs grammar school, the average grade for high achievers was A+, whereas the average grade for middle achievers was a B (10 girls out of 174, the rest being high achievers.) In contrast at our well respected comp which has a fast track, the average grade for high achievers is a B and for middle achievers is a C -. High achievers are those who achieve a level 5 in KS2 SATS and middle achievers are those with level 4. Can you say with any certainty, therefore, that the average high achiever at the comp is going to do less "well" than at the selective and with even more certainty that those who come out of primary at level 4 will do much less "well" on average at the comp than at the selective?

The statistics for high achievers don't necessarily give all the information, however, as many at the selective may go into that school closer to level 6 than 5 and that isn't reflected in the figures. However I'm not sure that the same argument is justified for middle achievers as these are all capped at level 4. Presumably this shows that for these two particular schools your average level 4 student is much more likely to do better at the selective (gaining an average of B grades) than at the comprehensive (gaining an average of C- grades.)

I know this is all about averages and there will always be exceptions to the rule, but I wonder if others agree that these statistics give a pretty good indication of how "well" your child is "likely" to do at a particular school (factoring in all the stuff about hard work and exceptions etc :D )

Any views?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:54 am 
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I can’t believe no one has replied to this...

I consider Michael Gove to be the most damaging schools minister in at least my lifetime – possibly ever – but the changes to school attainment data he’s introduced are a shining beacon in a wasteland of misguided, pointless and retrogressive meddling. (It could certainly be improved – it’s really only useful to pushy middle class parents looking for a good academic place to send high achieving children – but sadly Mr Gove isn’t the man to sort out the problems with this country’s vocational education so we’ll have a to wait a while for that.)

There is such a wealth of information in the tables now that any aspiring parent can identify what each school achieves with the raw material it’s given, and can determine to a great extent where a clever child will be well served and where they will be left to coast.

For example...

The intake at our local girls super-selective has average KS2 score 33.1* (just above level 5) and the school’s VA is 1030; as you’d expect therefore, almost everyone makes expected progress (98/96% resp in English/Maths) and comes out with good results (92% EBacc, average grade A+ across 12.5 GCSEs).

By comparison, the local outstanding comp has KS2 score of 29 (about 45% high attainers), 89/80% of high attainers make expected progress in English/Maths, 52% get the EBacc, and they get average grade A- across 9.4 GCSEs. VA is a respectable 1018.

A more typical, but by no means failing, local comp has KS2 score of 27.7 (29% high attainers). 68/66% make expected progress, 2% get the EBacc, average GCSE grade is C+ across 8.3 entries and VA for high attainers is 992.

So clearly, a bright child won’t always do well anywhere. At the super-selective they almost certainly will. At a very good comp there’s a slight chance that they will fall by the wayside, and they won’t get quite the same breadth of academic opportunities – but I don’t think many of us would consider it a disaster if our child came home with 9-10 GCSEs at mostly A*/A/B. At a typical B’ham comp though there is quite a strong chance that they will fail to achieve their potential (i.e. a third failing to make expected progress, average GCSE grade C+ where B or better should be expected) and the curriculum they’re offered may simply not offer them the same opportunities to pursue academic subjects if that’s the direction they want to take.

Of course this is only quantifying what people have already known subjectively for years, hence the reason why some of us are so keen to get our kids into selective schools and the reason why house prices are so much higher in certain areas.

The caveats to all this, of course, as with all other school data, are

(a) Don’t look at one year’s results in isolation - all schools have peaks and troughs from year to year, go back as far as possible so that you can see the underlying performance and spot any trends.

(b) The average results achieved by large groups of other people’s children don’t tell you anything about the results your own individual child will achieve.

* KS2 point scores, amongst other things, can be found here:

http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/performance/secondary_12/PointsScoreAllocation2012.pdf


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:05 pm 
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Yes, I thought the changes to these tables were very useful too. You can also download just the schools in your county which makes it even easier to see what you need.

Similarly the year 6 results tables are more informative too. I hope they keep this format for a while. Great stuff.

Parents, like teachers, are quick to attribute results to the child's wit and effort. It most certainly is not the full story.

These tables should enable universities to refine the modifications they make to offers based on school attended.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:00 pm 
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Thanks Mike and Mystery,

I was a little surprised as well that no-one had expressed any views on the post, particularly as several people have suggested that a bright child will do well anywhere :D .

I think the DofE figures show fairly clearly that children of similar ability coming out of primary school stand significantly more chance of doing "well" at certain schools than at others. I'm sure we've all known this about schools in our own area (and I'm not just comparing selectives with non-selectives here) but I think the figures shed a significant amount of light on what until now has been a fairly shady area.

As you all were :wink:


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:14 pm 
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The data is flawed though because you need to look more closely than this. APS can cover a weakness in one subject so you need to look at English and Maths separately which these tables don't do.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:40 pm 
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Agreed Guest55 that it's not perfect and of course any average is exactly that, an average. However I do think that the average grade per gcse is very, very useful information. Of course there may be children who get some A* and some Bs when the average is an A, but that still gives you a pretty good picture of what a child going into a school at a level 5 is "likely" to achieve at gcse compared to what that same child is "likely" to achieve as an average score at another school. You are comparing like against like to a significant extent, something I don't think you have been able to do so readily before.

(As mentioned above though, Level 5 will of course include children who are at the top and at the bottom of that band (as for Level 4) so you can't get an exact comparison.)


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:43 pm 
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I meant KS2 measures - there is a massive different between a low 5 and a top 5 and even more so at level 4.

The progression matrices are the best comparison but most schools don't publish these!


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:58 pm 
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What are they?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 3:00 pm 
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Nonsense. The data doesn't need to be broken down to that level of detail. By your definition no data set can ever be other than flawed because it doesn't present every single individual number used in it's preparation. That just sounds like the same old story of the teaching profession trying to prevent any information ever being presented to the public. It won't wash, I'm afraid.

I'd be more interested in hearing why the percentage making expected progress correlates closely with attainment band pretty much across the board - here's an example I picked at random (Redden Court School, Romford, for the curious):

% making expected progress in English: low attainers 50%, middle 75%, high 76%
% making expected progrss in Maths: low attainers 46%, middle 76%, high 85%

That's a fairly typical distribution. VA scores, just for the curious: low attainers 1045, middle 1014, high 992; in other words, in most schools the disparity could be expected to be even more more pronounced.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 3:01 pm 
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They show KS2 level (by sub level) against GCSE grade.

So you can see, for example, how many KS2 maths level 4b got GCSE grade C+.

That's what Ofsted uses to judge schools.


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