Secondary school league tables are out

(59 Posts)
LondonMother Thu 24-Jan-13 10:24:07

This is an interesting one for people in SE London.

BeckAndCall Thu 24-Jan-13 10:40:06

I just looked at this via the BBC website and its clearly a massively flawed exercise - if you look at the A/AS points per entry, they show a range from 10 to 1545. Clearly wrong. If they can't get these basis marauders right, and comparable, what exactly is the point of the table?

Lilymaid Thu 24-Jan-13 10:50:31

Some rather disturbing reading on the BBC website:
"Almost a quarter of England's sixth forms and colleges did not produce any pupils with A-level grades sought by the leading universities, data shows.

Some 594 (23.4%) of the 2,540 schools teaching A-levels had no pupils with the two As and a B in the subjects recommended for top degree courses."

Is that true or is it something to do with the way the statistics are compiled? If it were true it sounds like a lot of clever students are missing out.

Also bemused by the bit regarding English GCSE where it was said that English Literature (not Language) GCSE counted in the 5 good GCSEs for the tables??

BeckAndCall Thu 24-Jan-13 10:54:30

lilymiad it's at least in part due to the way the statistics are calculated - its about the table-maker's interpretation of 'facilitating subjects'. If you read the list from the Russell group, the list is as narrow as the 'info' button on the table suggests. But then they also go on to say that economics, politics, religious studies and Welsh can also be included - but they have not been taken into account in the statistics.

If its taken me 5 minutes to find two really big problems with the tables' assumptions, how many more must there be?

Ladymuck Thu 24-Jan-13 10:55:02

I hadn't really looked at these before. It's a very crude analysis isn't it? At least with KS2 SATS, I guess schools were being measured on the basis of the same set of exams, sat at the same time. This measure is a lot more random. I guess that in my area I think that he schools in the top, middle and bottom thirds are probably correctly located, but the individual statistics look dubious to say the least, presumably because some qualification are included, and others not.

singersgirl Thu 24-Jan-13 11:01:27

If you're really interested in seeing how individual schools compare, you need to go to their own websites and look at how the marks break down. It all depends in what you're interested in. Since most of the top performing schools are academically selective, you'd expect them all to do well. So the question (for many parents) is how well the brightest students are doing. Overall point score is pretty meaningless.

For example, Colyton Grammar (a school often mentioned on here, which appears at number 12 on that BBC table) seems to make a lot, if not all, of its pupils take General Studies. This bumps up the average point score for all pupils and hence the school's position, but you could argue is actually not at all helpful for the pupils themselves - only 8% of pupils got A* for General Studies and 60% got B/C. So this exam may be distracting the pupils from their core studies and not giving them the grades that will really help at the top universities. And overall the A*/A percentage was 24/32.

On the other hand, St Paul's, which appears way down the table, got 56% A* and 32% A at A-level this year. So although its average point score is lower (maybe on average they do fewer A-levels) pupils are getting better grades on the ones they do take - which presumably is more useful for them in university applications.

None of this really matters, as most people choose schools, if they even have a choice, for wider reasons than pure exam results. But it is interesting to see what different scoring systems give you.

TheReturnoftheSmartArse Thu 24-Jan-13 13:58:32

Our head has just this minute sent out an email saying there's been an error and a mis-calculation and that therefore the school appears lower down than it should. I'm amused, as she frequently proclaims that she'd rather the girls were well-rounded than academic high-fliers. Clearly not!

littlecrystal Thu 24-Jan-13 14:03:01

Oh dear. Our local South London converter academy achieved better results than the one in a nearby posh area, to where I wanted to move. Given the rough intake of the local school and the rich intake of the posh school, this goes against my senses.

Should I just look at Ebacc results aiming at 'serious' subjects?

By the way all info can be found on Dept of Education website.

Samestoryhere Thu 24-Jan-13 14:09:26

ha ha Return of the Smart Arse, we obviously have kids at the same school as I got that email too smile What a mare for the HT as that 1% difference is obviously a big deal!

stclemens Thu 24-Jan-13 14:24:21

I wonder if this is the same GDST head that has just emailed me as well....

Samestoryhere Thu 24-Jan-13 14:28:12

St Clemens - HH?

Honestyisbest Thu 24-Jan-13 15:28:28

This league table is clearly flawed. It's a joke.
Many league tables which include indes and state don't recognise the iGCSE which many indie school prefer for maths, sciences etc hence the lower overall score. You can get better info on here!!!!

TheReturnoftheSmartArse Thu 24-Jan-13 15:31:04

I love HH!

stclemens Thu 24-Jan-13 15:51:03

no we're WHS so it is clearly a wider issue...

TheReturnoftheSmartArse Thu 24-Jan-13 15:57:57

We're WHS too ...

Samestoryhere Thu 24-Jan-13 17:03:04

Stclemens, I was referring to the Head's initials. Sounds like that's a trio then smile

stclemens Thu 24-Jan-13 18:36:16

Doh (penny drops)!

TotallyBS Fri 25-Jan-13 13:15:16

Ditto iGCSE comment. DS's school is in top 20 when you look at A level rankings but it drops dramatically when you look at the tables being discussed. The reason? A lot of their subjects are iGCSEs which aren't given full/any weight in these type of tables.

GCSEChaos Fri 25-Jan-13 13:19:44

For Edexcel you need to take English Lang & Lit for the specification to be met. I dont know about other exam boards.

mumzy Fri 25-Jan-13 17:15:55

Well ds1 indie is languishing in the 2000's and this is a school who sends 25% of its intake to oxbridge and the rest to Russell Group universities. They also do almost entirely igcses and don't have VA scores. If i was assessing a school for my dcs I would rather know which unis their pupils went and the subjects studied i think these league tables are seriously flawed.

prosopon Fri 25-Jan-13 22:12:23

the "top" state schools make their students do General Studies, Colchester certainly do that as well as Colyton. The Financial Times tables strip it out and therefore are slightly more use.

mumzy Fri 25-Jan-13 22:41:30

I'm surprised they don't count igcses I thought they had now being approved for state schools. You need a degree in cryptology to understand the current exam system [ shakes head and wanders off muttering to herself]

CarlingBlackMabel Mon 28-Jan-13 12:44:43

What is an iGCSE?

TotallyBS Mon 28-Jan-13 12:59:12

The "I" stands for International. It's supposed to be more demanding than your bog standard GCSE.

oakman Mon 28-Jan-13 16:10:49

Colyton A level student are take General Studies to AS level only, then usually drop this and go on to take 3/4 onto A2. I don't think this is designed to manipulate league table figure, simply to give student a broad educational base. I must point out that the BBC 2013 secondary school league table placed Colyton at the top, which is quite a mean achievment considering student take there GCSE's in year10

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 20:55:39

Oak man that's incorrect. The kids do the AQA bac in addition to their A levels. The AQA Bacc requires general studies A level. They do 4 A levels PLUS general studies (plus critical studies to AS) plus the extended project.

gelo Mon 28-Jan-13 21:18:23

AQA Bacc requires either general studies OR crit thinking to AS level, not A2 Mordion. No idea what's done in Colyton, but if more than AS in one of those subjects it's over and above what's needed for AQA bacc.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 22:17:56

I told you what they do, they do crit thinking AS, general studies A2, 4 other A2s and the extended project. General studies does not replace a 4th academic A level. Some kids do 5 plus general studies.

gelo Mon 28-Jan-13 22:43:15

Well you should know, so I'll assume that's right even though you were wrong about the ebacc. With 3 years to do them all and bright kids it doesn't sound too much. No wonder they have such impressive league table points per candidate scores!

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 22:49:25

DD1 has just done her A level options. You can assume what you want. If you don't want to believe me then that's up to you. The letter I have which was sent to the parents says that Gen Studies is needed for the Ebacc and they do GS to A2 level. Perhaps they do do over and above what is required. 4 Other academic A levels is over and above what is required as well. It's a bit of a theme.

gelo Mon 28-Jan-13 23:12:00

AQA Bacc info here
Technically what the school said was correct but a bit misleading. AS only required and if they are doing Crit Thinking too then Gen studies isn't really required.

For some reason I thought your dd was a year younger - time flies I guess.

MordionAgenos Tue 29-Jan-13 08:24:03

Gelo you are clearly confusing me with someone else.

Yellowtip Tue 29-Jan-13 10:26:22

gelo to counter your point about A Levels, you can probably concede that being top of the table for GCSEs all taken in one go in Y10 is fairly impressive. They must be doing something right!

breadandbutterfly Tue 29-Jan-13 11:59:10

How do the pupils like doing A Levels over 3 years? Sounds like a good way to reduce the pressure. And study in more depth - Gove should like it.

gelo Tue 29-Jan-13 11:59:52

From everything I've heard about Clyton yellow (which is I think entirely from this site) it sounds like a superb school. I don't need to concede anything as I'm not trying to score points. I wasn't having a go about Colyton or trying to make any statement about it (I live miles away and know next to nothing about it), my contribution to this thread was just correcting some misinformation about AQA bacc. and from that somehow it was imagined I was attacking the school I think.

Yellowtip Tue 29-Jan-13 12:15:22

It was only your point about three years = easier to notch up A level points gelo, hence my yes but as against that GCSEs are taken a year early and they do very well in the tables on that.

I guess it would be very popular with almost all sixth formers bread. Far more scope for depth and for other non curriculum stuff too.

gelo Tue 29-Jan-13 12:24:50

Ahh I see, that point was actually meant as a defense that doing so many A levels was reasonably sensible in the circumstances because the children have time to do them. If they were trying to squeeze GS & CT into 2 years, then I'd say it looked more as if they were chasing league table points. (I'm sure the school doesn't mind that they gain so many points either, but they need to keep the children occupied for 3 years so it makes more sense to do those extras)

Theas18 Tue 29-Jan-13 12:25:30

Glad to see my 2 schools are maintaining their position nip and tuck with the local independents depending on which measure you take grin

However I'm also very aware that this just shows that stats that they want you to see about academic stuff. It does reinforce my feelings that we have secondary modern schools here even though they are allegedly comps.

re AQA bacc. DD1 did it with just AS crit thinking and extended study project. Just reminded yesterday as for some unexplained reason the certificate arrived in the post from school. She's in her 2nd year at uni LOLOLOL

gelo Tue 29-Jan-13 12:30:16

And the extended project too, which I think is a great thing to do, but it is time consuming so it wouldn't be right to mandate it with only 2 years for sixth form I don't think (optional is fine in 2 years though).

prosopon Tue 29-Jan-13 16:05:54

The GSCE results at Colyton are impressive but when students take 12 exams each that certainly helps the point count. The school are also clearly being economical with the truth about what the AQA Bacc requires and apparently misleading parents in the process. The students have to make their A level choices a year early, with the impact that has on possible career choices later. Taking 4 A levels might help with that but it's still a major drawback.

Of course universities don't often place extra value on having 12 GSCEs, regard General Studies as a waste of time and may expect higher grades from students who've had three years to study for their A levels. Medical schools dislike students taking 3 years to get A levels. That might explain the limited number of schools forcing students to take exams so early.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 29-Jan-13 16:28:55

@prosopon The school is not being economical with the truth about the AQA Bacc, I obviously misread the bumf they sent home (not for the first time or, I'm sure, the last). However it is certainly the case that the kids do General Studies to A2 not to AS which was the inaccurate information I was originally correcting.

AIUI universities expect high grades because the school is a high performing one. The school also doesn't seem to have any problem getting kids into medical school but since not everyone wants to go to medical school (shock horror) this is somewhat irrelevant.

Yellowtip Tue 29-Jan-13 16:54:09

Besides which proposon med schools mind only that exams are taken in the conventional period not that GCSEs are taken a year early thus leaving three years to study more broadly in the sixth form. I understand the school to have an exceptional record in getting students into med school in recent years, so what you say just doesn't stack up.

And why on earth would any school wilfully mislead parents on something like this? That's absurd.

Yellowtip Tue 29-Jan-13 17:00:15

In fact proposon, to my certain knowledge, some students at these really excellent schools get relatively low offers (even for Medicine) because the unis want to snap them up and they've already pretty much proved their academic credentials.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 29-Jan-13 17:52:21

Poor old DD1 seems to have picked possibly the only career path where her academic credentials will do her no favours whatsoever! C'est la vie.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 29-Jan-13 17:53:05

Mind you, the scope offered by the extended project might turn out to be a bit of a boon.

Yellowtip Tue 29-Jan-13 18:34:58

ROTS but what a dreamy career envy. Perhaps she could do a reverse Einstein. You know, dabble in theoretical sciency stuff as a break from the day job. Especially having that triple science background at GCSE smile.

Oops sorry prosopon, I see now that I read your name wrong. It's arguable that carrying on 12 subjects for GCSE cuts off less subjects as choices for A Level in Y11 than slashing subjects to 8 in Y9. I've seen both systems in action and for bright kids the condensing of KS3 to enable a three year sixth form trumps pretty much all of the downsides.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 29-Jan-13 18:39:02

Yellow - she'll prob end up teaching either all or a lot of the time. So perhaps not such a dreamy career as one might hope. But it is what she wants to do even if she does end up mainly teaching. So, that's ok I suppose!

I would actually definitely argue that forcing triple science at GCSE is not good. But we knew we were signing up for that from the start so, you know - it is what it is. DD1 would definitely have preferred Drama to Chemistry though. Or art.

Yellowtip Tue 29-Jan-13 18:44:46

I suppose that's the only good thing about having starved mine of music. They've each got to do Art or Drama alongside the rest (except for maverick DS2 who rebelled).

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 29-Jan-13 18:52:44

Well, she didn't have to do Hist or Geog, did she - she chose them. So she made her own bed and of course adores them so it worked out well (touching wood now obviously). I think its a good sign when a kid wants (and is encouraged) to take all of their 3 free choice options on to A level - it means they chose right. So, I don't really think that making all their choices early does disadvantage the kids at all. Dying of the slow boredom of entropy might, though.

Yellowtip Tue 29-Jan-13 19:03:23

I took a slightly off the wall approach to entropy which was to read the Problem Page of my Teen Magazine ('Diana') under the desk.

Yellowtip Tue 29-Jan-13 19:04:19

I AM NOT ADVOCATING THAT FOR YOUR DD I HASTEN TO ADD.

Yellowtip Tue 29-Jan-13 19:06:24

Sorry, caps lock blush.

prosopon Wed 30-Jan-13 22:08:08

Mordionagenos has become russiansonthesquare or were two parents confused? Confusing. Still lets say there was a misunderstanding - I'm mildly interested in the reason any school gives for making students take A level General Studies.

Yellowtip I imagine a few students do know exactly what they want to do at 15 and enjoy having 3 years to complete their studies. However I notice the sixth form at your school is quite a lot smaller than the numbers taking GSCE. Presumably quite a few decided it wasn't for them as they left. I know some medical schools will still take students after 3 years, pity their choice is restricted.

If you force students to make GSCE choices at an early age then perhaps you need to make them take more than the normal number of subjects, it isn't necessary for any other reason. Allowing a wide range of GSCE options and forcing students to take 4 A levels doesn't make up for limiting career choices at 15. It's a very strange thing to have done.

Yellowtip Wed 30-Jan-13 22:15:49

prosopon I'm not sure what your agenda is but DS1 is reading Medicine at his first choice college in Oxford as is one of his closest girlfriends from school. She got all four med school choices and he got three out of four (the other two were Imperial and Birmingham, so not quite bottom feeders either).
He's just been ranked in the top ten in his year there. Honestly, it's fine.

Your use of the word 'forcing' is very odd.

Yellowtip Wed 30-Jan-13 22:26:25

I also spoke to DS for ages this afternoon. He rows twice a week and goes out drinking/ clubbing on average four nights a week so the school seems to have instilled a decent capacity for work/ life balance as well. All good smile

prosopon Thu 31-Jan-13 12:25:52

I thought this was a discussion about the deficienices of league tables, yellowtip, and Colyton is a good example of why they aren't reliable. I thought the website said they all have to take 4 A levels, hence forced.

If I was in the market for a secondary school I'd be asking some hard questions about the 20 students who seem to have left the school after GSCE and before A level, how the school deals with students changing their mind on options and at least one other thing the data suggest are problems. One parent claiming a school is great does not make it so, 20 students leaving is a red flag. But we don't all share your obsession with the school.......so just talk to yourself.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 31-Jan-13 12:47:34

>I'm surprised they don't count igcses I thought they had now being approved for state schools.

There are these accredited igces which are counted nowadays.

Yellowtip Thu 31-Jan-13 13:22:41

prosopon I can only assume that you're a parent with issues, so I think you need to be asking the questions since I'm pretty content. I can't see anywhere that I've said anything either way about the school, I've merely taken issue with your dodgy take on the med school stuff, a subject I know about first hand.

Mellisa Sun 03-Feb-13 16:45:25

Does any one know how good old palace whitgift school is if I don't want to live in croydon which areas around Croydon shall we consider for good girls primary state schools and decent living standards.

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