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Any secondary teachers about? Q about value added score!!

(26 Posts)
CheekyGirl Mon 12-Nov-12 16:51:56

Hi, I have posted before about a few - probably trivial - issues I've been having at my dd's school (she's in year 7). Anyway, I've done a bit of research and found that the value added score is 976 which I believe is below average. What do mnetters think?

If it's any help, the last GCSE 5 A*-C including English and Maths % was 54.
There are about 650 pupils in the school. It's an 11 -16 community comprehensive.

My dd achieved 5c s in her year 6 SATS and is currently in the top sets. I've had concerns about her work not being very neat (I've talked to her about this, of course) and her books not showing evidence of teacher marking. The most marking I've seen, and only in 2 subjects, is twice since the start of September. Is this normal????


MaybeAMayBaby Mon 12-Nov-12 17:01:37

Our school has an A*-C GCSE rate of over 80% every year. And that includes GCSEs not vocational course and our CVA is also below 1000. It a stupid measure and even ofsted don't use it anymore.

As for the marking-you say her book has only been marked twice but has she had other stuff marked? I've marked all sort of 'other' stuff including various levelled assessments and tests etc. only marked some groups books twice.

And a 5c at primary school....that would be a middle band at my current school. Admittedly, a top middle band. Is the messy-ness a new thing for your DD? Is that the concern?

CheekyGirl Mon 12-Nov-12 17:09:29

Thank you so much for your reply, that's really helpful information re the CVA!

The thing is, I was sort of surprised she was put in the top sets for everything too! I know she's fairly bright, but to be in the top sets of 5 sets for each subject seems surprising! She's not struggling at all, either! They set for absolutely every subject from day one, by the way.

If she's honestly the brightest they've got, then that actually concerns me, iykwim!!

Re. the messiness. She does have a slight tendency towards messily presented work in class, but is better when doing homework, particularly a 'project' type homework when she can be quite the perfectionist! At primary school her work appeared neater. My mum, who is an ex primary teacher even commented (out of dd's earshot, of course) "Blimey, if that's the standard of the top set, I dread to see the bottom set's work!!".

I'm worried that dd won't be stretched and encouraged to aspire and improve, if that makes sense.

I'm not sure about the marking as I only see exercise books. Perhaps they do other things in class that are marked, that's encouraging! A fair bit of marking I do see is 'peer marking' which I understand has positive aspects and is used a fair amout, but there is no evidence that the teacher has checked it. Some of her French, for example, was marked incorrectly by a peer!!!

CheekyGirl Mon 12-Nov-12 22:05:44

Shameless bump!

cricketballs Mon 12-Nov-12 22:34:53

I would disagree with Maybe and say that having a CVA below 1000 means that students are making far below their expected progress. A CVA of 1000 means all students have made the GCSE grades that their KS2 data suggests. A couple of students who don't make the grade is expected due to circumstances changing but to have a CVA that low is very worrying. A school should be striving to be far beyond a CVA of 1000 which shows that they are pushing their students beyond expectations.

The only issue with regards to CVA is how much the primaries have taught to the test so to speak as if the students have only just scrapped L4/L5 then the secondary are bound by these assessments and the school is then judged on data they have no responsibility for.

In terms of marking you need to consider that in secondary a teacher will be responsible for lots of different groups from year 7 up to year 13 and whilst you may feel that it is not fair, a teachers main consideration will be on their groups that have external exams due and the KS3 groups will unfortunately be the bottom of their list. Therefore, there will be a lot of peer marking, test marking etc but I would hope from a professional point of view that whilst there may seem to you as a parent of little written assessment the teachers concerned will be assessing continuously through classwork/discussions etc.

For example, my main concern in marking are my year 11, 12 and 13 groups as they have exams in January. Whilst I mark as frequent as possible my other groups, KS3 classes have only been marked by myself twice. I do however through the work they do in class (group work, discussions, work not specifically written down) know what levels they are currently working at/struggle with/excelling at

joanbyers Tue 13-Nov-12 00:36:03

54% suggest not many bright children.

The CVA score is gamed by the more switched-on schools, not necessarily to the benefit of the students.

CheekyGirl Tue 13-Nov-12 20:57:33

Thank you all so far!

My dd has friends at the school, and seems happy enough there. However, I am obviously very keen that she remain motivated to learn and be given all the support and encouragement to achieve all she is capable of.

Should I be looking around for another school??

I've got a seven year old with severe SEN and I work as well, so I really need to feel confident in dd's school!!

More views very welcome!!!

joanbyers Tue 13-Nov-12 21:22:13

Can you drill down into the GCSE and A Level results? I.e. the actual grades in individual subjects? It's not a large school, so with 54% 5 A*-C including Eng/Maths, I wonder how much room there is for high-achievers there. Can you give the name of the school? Quite a lot of data you can mine out.

CheekyGirl Tue 13-Nov-12 21:42:41

I think the maths dept is quite good - 78% of students got an A - C grade there. 90% of students got an A - C grade in History, resistant materials and PE, about 65% of students got at least a C in food tech and RE. Apparantly a fifth of students got at least 5 A/A* grades. No info on English, but in 2011 only 10% of students managed at least a C in MFL.


CheekyGirl Tue 13-Nov-12 22:06:25

No A-levels to comment on at the school. Nearest sixth form is 11 miles away.......

joanbyers Tue 13-Nov-12 22:20:44

I take it your DD's school begins with the letter 'I'?

The surrounding area looks leafy and prosperous, so 54% seems quite mediocre.

DFE says high achievers score an average of B+, with 41% EB, which is quite reasonable, it's just that there aren't many high achievers entering the school.

According to their website, 11 students got 4 or more A* last year. Not huge, or inspiring numbers, but it's obviously possible.

It seems unlikely that they will stretch her, if she is very able.

joanbyers Tue 13-Nov-12 22:21:24

I couldn't find the individual grades in individual subjects btw.

balia Tue 13-Nov-12 22:25:03

I think the CVA is a much fairer method of comparing schools than the basic A*-C figure, as CVA takes into consideration the starting points of the children and shows the progress they make. It is only being phased out, AFAIK, because schools are increasingly going to be measured on levels of progress. I have no idea how it could be 'gamed' and am not even sure what that means

My school has an A*-C rate similar to your DD's but we have a very high CVA. So although our intake is very far below the national average (for a number of reasons) they make more progress than other students do in other schools. A high A*-C rate but a low CVA could mean that the students are not making expected progress, but the intake are at a high level when they arrive in year 7.

So the low CVA would worry me. If the maths figures are high, it may mean that the English figures aren't as good (are there a high number of EAL students at the school?) The A*-A figures are good, though - if your DD is in top sets that bodes well.

What does the latest Ofsted report say?

joanbyers Wed 14-Nov-12 01:56:32

If you want to game CVA, you need to read the documents here:

The rules are quite complicated, but they are pre-determined, and schools can target CVA by analysing those documents. Targeting CVA does not necessarily mean they are improving attainment, it just means they are improving the CVA score.

For example, a BTEC First Diploma Merit is equivalent to 4 B grades in academic GCSE subjects.

So it doesn't really tell you whether those kids coming in with Level 3 English are going out with a whole fistful of academic qualifications.

Low attainers on average gain E's, middle attainers C-'s and high attainers B+'s, so while the BTECs probably won't help the high attainers, it could definitely bump up the low and middle attainers CVA, with a course that is easier than GCSE.

CheekyGirl Wed 14-Nov-12 11:20:49

Lol, Joanbyers - dd's school does begin with I !!! The surrounding area is, as you say, leafy and prosperous. I think a fair few children go off to independent schools. The catchment area is, however, very wide and into the neighbouring county which operates the 11+/grammar school thing. I wonder if this has something to do with it.....

My dd is able, but I wouldn't say she was 'gifted'. In fact, as I said in an earlier post, I was actually surprised that she was in all the top sets! She has a small group of lovely friends, but is quite shy and impressionable and likes to 'follow the crowd'. I am keen for her to be surrounded by plenty of teachers and other pupils whose aspirations are relatively high. I don't want her (or me for that matter!) to have to 'fight' for a decent, challenging, education.

Any suggestions on what I could do to find out more about the standard of education she is likely to get at this school would be great - I don't want to leave her there if it's not the best thing for her, but equally I definitely don't want to move her unecessarily!!

joanbyers Wed 14-Nov-12 11:52:33

She is in the top set because that's what she is at that school. As the DFE data shows, the school has few high achievers on admittance (those who scored highly on their SATs at 11), so it doesn't take that much to be top set there.

At another school she wouldn't be top set.

Obviously it is possible to get good grades there, and it's not disastrous by any means, but if you don't like the school, by all means try and find a nicer one.

CheekyGirl Wed 14-Nov-12 14:45:29

I'm not sure whether I like the school or not - and I think that's part of the problem! I just don't feel I've got enough information to go on, or the best way to go about getting it!!

Tips, questions to ask, things to look out for...... Ideas very welcome!!!

joanbyers Wed 14-Nov-12 16:06:33

Well this is the second thread in a month you've started about the school, so I guess you don't like it....

I had a look on BBC website for your county, and there are 17 independent schools listed for GCSE results, occupying positions 1-16, and 18.

By comparison, in say North Yorkshire, the top 3 schools are state (grammar), the fourth is an independent, the fifth a state comp (C of E), the sixth and seventh independent, then two more state comps (RC). There are plenty more mediocre independent schools further down the league tables there!

So it doesn't look like you are in a good area for state education, or perhaps conversely you are in a good area for private!

Realistically if you want something better I think you will need to go private. Fees will be £10k+/year. Bursaries may be available, if you want to go down that route ring around local schools - and there are likely to be quite a few options, and ask what they could do. The answer may be nothing, so don't get your hopes up, but perhaps worth a try?

Did you apply for Kendrick btw?

cricketballs Wed 14-Nov-12 19:20:12

I'm sorry joanbyers but have you got detailed knowledge regarding BTEC specifications in every subject area in order to make the statement "easier than GCSE"?

In my subject area, I have had to start teaching GCSE instead of BTEC because of the snobbish attitude to a very worthwhile qualification - my year 11s (who are doing both the BTEC which they started in year 10 and now also undertaking the GCSE) have laughed at how easy the GCSE is compared to the amount of knowledge and work they have had to do to achieve in BTEC

For example in BTEC the students have to be able to create a balance sheet, a full Trading Profit and Loss Account, create a 12 month cash flow forecast and create break even charts.

In the GCSE they have to be able to read a break even chart, haven't got a clue what a balance sheet is, plug the gaps in a very simplified cash flow forecast and the profit and loss is a joke.

A BTEC is a vocational qualification that suits students that are prefer learning in a different way, more matched to the real world and is coursework assessed to a very high standardisation - not easier just different

joanbyers Wed 14-Nov-12 20:32:24

They are different indeed, but when the focus is typically on strictly academic subjects, i.e. GCSE Maths and English, CVA scores made of a hodgepodge of different subjects are just asking to be targeted strategically by schools.

lljkk Wed 14-Nov-12 20:41:29

Our local state secondary publishes GCSE pass rates in individual subjects and gives stats such as the number of pupils who got all As & A*s in GCSEs.
Otherwise the school is very much as yours, OP.
DD is a high-flyer but I will feel fine if she gets into only the local school, I know quite a few high achieving children there.

CheekyGirl Wed 14-Nov-12 20:48:37

joanbyers - I didn't apply for Kendrick or two grammars in another neighbouring county. I honestly didn't know, until it was too late, that applying was even an option, being out of county. I think it unlikely she would get in as they are all very oversubscribed. Is it worth asking, do you think even at this late stage??

I don't dislike or like the school. I have concerns which may prove to be unfounded and I just don't know what to do.

lljkk - that's reassuring. Will you be applying for other schools, though?

joanbyers Wed 14-Nov-12 22:26:25

No charge for asking!

CheekyGirl Wed 14-Nov-12 22:47:35

I may just do that then!!

It would be a big decision to move dd, though. I need to somehow find enough evidence to sway me one way or another. I just don't feel I have that yet. I don't quite know what I'm waiting for, though...

lljkk Thu 15-Nov-12 07:56:17

DD chose a different secondary (higher results & VAM & much better Ofsted) as first choice. It felt more spruced up, slick & ambitious at Open Evening. The kids & teachers seemed much more enthusiastic than at other Open Evenings, especially local high school. We talked lots thru all aspects of each school, DD is very ambitious & liked the high results. She also liked the pupil presentation which mostly focused on rock music & pretty prom dresses (I KID YOU NOT). They have their own hair-dressing salon, so it must be good (ironic smiley here). Weird how the hair salon wasn't on show for Open evening. (ironic confused). The higher results school is bigger, I am prejudiced in favour of massive schools so closest we could get.

It will cost £500/yr in bus fares to send her there (out of catchment). shock An extra hour+ of commuting daily. Rumours of chronic bullying on the bus that school is indifferent about (we shall see). I know someone who works there & mentioned gangs.

Local HS is 2nd choice; I won't appeal if she doesn't get into 1st choice. If she goes local she'll have better sports facilities, better social life, nicer DT facilities, better extra-curriculars & get to do a Latin GCSE. I know so many kids like my DD who thrive there. I think that's helpful, find children like yours who are in upper years & see how they are doing, are they living up to what you hope is their potential.

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