'value added' secondary school scores

(37 Posts)
Cat98 Thu 22-Nov-12 11:38:46

If you were looking for a secondary school for a bright child but couldn't afford private, and you had two reasonable options, which would you choose?
1400 pupils, higher than average fsm entitlement but with a 'value added score in the top 5 percent of the uk' OR c.1000 pupils, slightly lower than average fsm entitlement but not great ofsted report recently - however has just received a lot of funding.
Thanks, I know it's quite limited info but based on info provided which would you choose?

Takver Thu 22-Nov-12 12:03:24

I would visit both schools and see which I thought seemed like it would suit my dc more - we've just chosen an objectively 'worse' school on the grounds it seems far more appropriate for dd's needs/talents.

Blu Thu 22-Nov-12 15:41:31

I'd visit - but on paper the first school sounds as if it is delivering a better education.

AndrewD Thu 22-Nov-12 16:06:03

Did you get the value added scores by cohort? The DoE break it into low/middle/high attainers. Our local comp does a good job (over 1000) with low and middle, but a poor job with the very few high attainers (well below 1000).

When I went to the open day and spoke to teachers, their focus on 95% of the schools intake was obvious. They did have a couple of very bright kids that were effectively fending for themselves - they did well because they were super self motivated. However, the school doesn't tell you about the high attainers that fell behind on their watch - but the DoE cohort statistics tell you that it really happens.

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 20:14:58

Based on the latest OECD report, I would choose the one with the fewest possible children in receipt of FSM if I had a middle class child, to ensure best academic results.

TimeChild Mon 26-Nov-12 20:36:59

"Based on the latest OECD report, I would choose the one with the fewest possible children in receipt of FSM if I had a middle class child, to ensure best academic results. " Why?

I would choose the first school.

lljkk Mon 26-Nov-12 20:49:08

All other things being exactly equal (this is unlikely!), with descrip you give, I'd favour the bigger school for being bigger.

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 21:31:52

Because the OECD data, along with lots of other studies, shows that bright middle class children do best academically when surrounded by other bright middle class children. It's a sad fact but true.

If I was planning a whole country education system, however, I would try to mix all children up as much as possible, as this leads to the highest average levels of attainment and overall is better for GDP/GNP.

But we are talking about an individual child here.

safflower Tue 27-Nov-12 05:39:43

Visit the school, have a good look round, ask questions. Look right into the maths and english, science gcse results. Ask how many of them were foundation level, how many were higher level. If all/majority foundation level, then the school is not good. It is securing it's 5 A to C inc maths and english, at the cost of the childs grades.

Ask other parents, whose children have been through the system there and recently left. They will have the truth of the results, rather than parents of current pupils, who may be full of promises from the school about how marvellous it is.

And I would take very little notice of the league tables.As I said 5 x A to C including maths and english could be at the lowest level, not at the level the child is capable of doing.

safflower Tue 27-Nov-12 05:46:45

Forgot to add, that what I mean from the above is that a Foundation paper with a grade C will be included in the A to C results. That means that in some cases, the school has taken the easy option to guarantee the child C grade when he/she could well have been capable of B or A, but unable to as the highest grade is C.

Also remember that the GCSE also goes from A to E, and they are all passes in the Government's eyes. Look at what percentage you need to get an E. Yes, it might make the child think they have done well, but a coupld of questions right, and you gain an E, even if everything else was wrong! Seriously an E means their is no real knowledge of a subject, yet the government is happy to say you have passed.

TimeChild Tue 27-Nov-12 08:03:41

Boffinmum, how do you know that OP is 'middle class'? ...or as we are on the education forum on mumsnet, we are by definition 'middle class'? hmm

BoffinMum Tue 27-Nov-12 08:13:14

Fair point. OP, please describe the jobs of you and your DH, and give an indication of your respective highest levels of educational attainment as I was being scientifically sloppy there. wink

lljkk Tue 27-Nov-12 08:18:20

I don't think OP has stated whether her child qualifies as "bright", either. Not that there's a consensus definition for that, either.

I worked in a school with a very high value added (easily in top 5%).

In that particular school it meant they were taking v v v low acheivers and getting 5 gcses out of them. There were very few pupils in that school that acheived anything higher than a C at GCSE.

I thimk you need to look at actual results in combination with value added.

OhDearConfused Tue 27-Nov-12 09:52:24

IIjkk yes OP did say "bright".

Arcticwaffle Tue 27-Nov-12 09:57:14

My older dc go to a school with a very high value added score (but not a very high score on overall results). Their school does seem to focus on value-adding for children at all levels, they do push the higher achievers a lot as far as I can tell (my dc are only in the lower years).

The school doesn't have a great reputation (middle class parents in our area tend to avoid all the local comps like the plague) but my dc seem to be thriving happily.

Not that that can help the OP as I wouldn't judge a school just on value-added but it's certainly a good pointer, IMO.

TimeChild Tue 27-Nov-12 11:02:59

The key thing is to ensure that the value added for the school is over 1000 for all 3 levels of attainers. A school that focuses too much on one level by neglecting another is not well run, whichever level your dc are in.

As for Foundation level GCSEs, I don't think there is anything wrong with taking that if that is the appropriate level for that student. I do not like the way they are written off as not worth the paper.

safflower Tue 27-Nov-12 12:19:23

I am not saying they are written off TimeChild. I am saying that there are plenty of children who are perfectly capable of getting higher grades, yet the school plays safe and puts them into the foundation level because it keep them in the league tables.

TimeChild Tue 27-Nov-12 12:32:18

That is rather a sweeping statement if I may say so. My dc is 'only' doing Foundation Maths for GCSE. This was decided by the school. At foundation level she is a high C, in fact probably borderline B/C. After discussion with her, we fully support this decision of the school to enter her for Foundation level only. dd performs much better being top of a lower group than being bottom of a higher group. Yes, league tables may play a part in their decision, but often it may be for the benefit for the individual student concerned.

safflower Tue 27-Nov-12 13:21:17

I beg to differ. But I can see we could argue this back and forth forever. My point is, that of course some children are best off doing the foundation. One of my dc will no doubt be doing maths and english at foundation level which is right for him. There are plenty of schools who do play safe. They need their 5 A to C percentage, but if you look very closely at that, you will find a heck of a lot of foundation levels are taken. This information is not on the league tables. To get a good picture, IMO the percentage of foundation levels and higher levels a school put their children in for would give you a better picture than just the league tables.

lljkk Wed 28-Nov-12 15:48:15

The key thing is to ensure that the value added for the school is over 1000 for all 3 levels of attainers.

Only one of my six closest secondaries meets that criteria. It will cost > £500/yr in bus fares if DD goes there. I sometimes wonder what kind of areas you all live in. We live in an average-in-most-every-way kind of area.

TimeChild Wed 28-Nov-12 18:38:37

I'm just talking 'in principle' here, I'm not saying that my dcs attend schools of that calibre...

Shocked to hear that you will have to fork out such a lot in bus fares, here in the Big Smoke, at least the bus fares are free.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 28-Nov-12 18:42:42

Local grammar school here gets better results but a lower value added score than the comp.

My ex teacher of a mother says that's because the kids going to the grammar are already achieving so well that its harder to add value to them than it is to add value to a lower or average achieving child.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 28-Nov-12 18:44:31

I would visit both schools and see what your gut feeling is. I was very impressed on an open evening by one local school mainly due to the enthusiasm of the teaching staff. They seemed genuinely passionate about their subjects and the school.

I'm a believer in gut instinct.

Also talk to any parents with kids at the schools and see what they think.

mercibucket Wed 28-Nov-12 19:37:31

Visit and see

Tbh it depends on your child. Mine will prob go to the local not v good comp but I expect pretty much top grades from them regardless of teaching. Maybe because I am v out of touch. 'Back in the day' I just learned it all myself before the exams, never looked at my notes from school. I expect once Gove has finished, there will be no continuous assessment and it will be back to that system again

So until GCSE at least, just go for the best fit for your child

Interesting about breaking down the stats that way, too

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