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.
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