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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2015 7:54 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2014 10:21 am
Posts: 256
I am now being rather pessimistic and trying to look at our amended options for school places. DS did not score as well as we had hoped for in the qm exam , he did however score high enough to apply which we shall do. I am now left with the thought that if we get a similar result we may have to choose between HG and the local secondary schools.
If I'm honest we weren't impressed with HG, and neither was DS. He is very sporty and felt it wasn't the right school for him. I want him to be happy but and I stupid to essentially turn down a grammar place ( if he gets the correct score) for the local secondary?
This leads me to the main point of me then studying the results tables and then wondering how should I be looking at them? The local schools are not great but actually the results I've looked at are not very different. If you look st the general tables they are but if you look at what the high achiever groups attain then the marks at the local school can be higher. For example HG had 94 % of high achievers score a total of 5 gcse's A* to c, however the local school had 97%.
How have you all been comparing results?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2015 9:38 pm 

Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2015 6:44 am
Posts: 1440
I think you should try and make as much of a rounded judgement as possible, much as your self allude to. I would treat the somewhat arbitrary 5 GCSE measure with a good dose of care.

Schools are the first to moan about leagues tables and the bluntness of Ofsted judgements. They are also the first to print ads with outstanding on them and the 100% of their pupils achieving GCSE's pass (G or above) when it suits. High achievers will achieve even in the most atrocious school, but so do middle achievers. Look at Lordswood boy for last year, 2014 - 10% of boys got 5 GCSE's, but look a little more closely at the numbers

There were 96 boys in the cohort as follows

26 low attainers
57 Middle attainers
13 High attainers

Of these 31% of high attainers achieved 5 GCSE's and 11% of middle attainers.

So in practice 4 kids in 2014 (high attainers) and about 6 kids (middle attainers) got 5+ GCSE's out of some 96 kids in yr11, which is the 10% of boys overall who got 5 GCSE's.

The other 85 kids or so did not get nothing, most likely they got something, just not over the 5 GCSE's threshold.

Other notable stats are evident. Nearly 10% of boys are dropping out of education altogether (that is almost as many as those getting 5 or more GCSE's). The way I read the stats tells me, if you not one of the 10 boys that got 5 GCSE's or 10 that drop out, the remaining 75 are trying to pick up their education, by carrying on into FE or a school sixth form, in an attempt to get back on track.

The other dimension is the high % that are classified as disadvantaged, and the need to understand how many of them are making expected progress, in maths and English. It falls off a cliff for those those classified as disadvantaged. Again a difficult one as nearly half don't speak English as a first language.

Many would conclude on the basis of the same stats that either the school was doing a great job in difficult circumstances or that in fact it was a basket case. Take you pick

Trying to prevent this turning into war and peace - let me pose a series of questions that you could ask yourself


1) How much skin in the game does the head have? If I am sending my kid to a school is the head's time going to be split, between a failing school, thus dragging down the performance of the good school.
2) Is the head angling for retirement and taking on Executive responsibilities at the same time, if so why?
3) Is there a discernible trend in performance up or down
4) How good is the governing body?
5) What can really be deduced from the stats? You said 97% of high achievers getting 5 GCSE's, but in this case high achievers were a relatively small proportion of the overall cohort (and even then they could only get under a 1/3 of those over the 5 GCSE's threshold). Look at both the % and the absolute numbers and proportions, to get a better feel.
6) What does the latest ofsted say to help you get a more subtle understanding of the stats.
7) Look at the school, is it the sort of school, that on the first day. is going to start telling kids what will happen to them if they don't tow the line (the sort of school, that has its starting point, that the kids coming through the door are out of control and could well have a police officer on site permanently) or is it the sort of school that will set out a clear ethos of growing a child's self esteem, grit, resilience, self confidence and leadership skills.

Bottom line...... Stats are important, but only you give a part of the puzzle. I would not find it easy to give up a grammar in Birmingham (if I had a place), given what they stand for and what they achieve. Most of the parents that send their kids to them are likely to fight tooth and nail to support them and their children, which cannot always be said elsewhere. Even in primary you can see a clear line emerging between those that do and those that well

PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2015 9:47 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 02, 2015 10:39 pm
Posts: 10
Your analysis is spot on. You have compared like with like and therefore have a much clearer insight into what comps can offer your child. So in strict academic terms, there often isn't much between the two types of schools when it comes to the high achievers. However there is the more intangible, less measureable element which relates to school culture, the value placed on learning in its widest sense, enrichment opportunities and so on. In this regard comps are less competitive. And because in my view education is so much more than exam results, I am inclined towards GSs.

I would also add that I think people over focus on overall school results. It's a bit like looking at average house prices: they tell you very little about the price of your house. Results are a useful indicator: they are necessary but not sufficient pointer to the school.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2015 5:41 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:29 pm
Posts: 124
Look at the value added stats- they show you how much progress children make over 5 years. 3 levels is expected - 4, 5 and 6 levels of progress is great. This tells you much more than the A*-C percentage. A child who is level 5 in year 7 but gets a grade C has underachieved but this type of info is hidden in the attainment tables.

Also, look at the percentage of students getting As and A*s as this will show you if the top end are sufficiently challenged. Again, this kind of information doesn't leap out if you looks at the A-C results.

In addition, talk to the children at open evening. They are surprisingly honest if you ask the right questions.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2015 5:54 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:25 pm
Posts: 2630
Firstly fingers crossed you will get your first option.

However for second choice have you been to the Comprehensive and if so go with your instinct. Personally if I didn't like a Grammar school and had a good non-grammar option that I did like then I would go with that. This site by its very nature makes one believe Grammars are the bees knees. However as I have said on many occasions the most successful students I know of went to failing or satisfactory Comprehensives, two currently in Oxford. Those DC were ambitious and hard workers so if that is your DS then stick with your instinct.

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