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Top London Secondaries? Non grammar or catholic...

(41 Posts)
BewitchedBefuzzledBewildered Tue 04-Mar-14 23:06:41

Seems to me that from (my fairly superficial,I admit it)!reading, that the top state schools in London are either Grammar (well maybe not quite London, but close enough...) and /or Catholic.

Where best to look up league tables of the top state schools where you don't need to find god or sit the 11+. Moving into catchment, well that is always doable. Finding god, not quite so easy :-)

tess73 Wed 05-Mar-14 11:47:51

Look at the telegraph online, education section, league tables

AgaPanthers Wed 05-Mar-14 13:32:26

You can't look at simple GCSE pass rates, you have to look at the intake. A school with 65% GCSE pass rates can be much better than one with 90%.

MarriedDadOneSonOneDaughter Wed 05-Mar-14 20:11:26

Move to Potters Bar, one of the 5 roads in the Dame Alice Owen catchment area?

meditrina Wed 05-Mar-14 20:18:24

I wouldn't use The Telegraph for this - the state school tables might be better, but any independent school one that doesn't have Westminsypter in the Top 100 has to be suspect.

Is it specifically and only Catholic faith schools you're excluding btw?

theglamourofitall Wed 05-Mar-14 21:56:01

I think you're right – they're either grammars or faith schools. What about Holland Park school? Camden School for Girls? It's non-competitive entry but you do have to be assessed purely for 'banding' purposes. Not much cop if you have a DS of course grin

Mintyy Wed 05-Mar-14 22:03:45

"Moving into catchment, well that is always doable".

Always doable? how ignorant.

MarriedDadOneSonOneDaughter Thu 06-Mar-14 09:50:48

how ignorant. shock

Notwithstanding the valid point about statistics, I like the Dept of Education website. In particular the information about intake (attainment from primary, disadvantaged %, English not as a first language &) as it allows you to put the raw results (KS4 exam points) into some context.

A school that has a high % of high attainers, few disadvantaged and mostly English as a first language might be doing well because of it's intake and its teaching.

A school that the opposite, but still does well with outcomes almost certainly has excellent teaching, particularly at the low to average attainment level.

That said, you get a very very long list and the ability to filter by "grammar, faith, etc" seems to be missing.

AgaPanthers Thu 06-Mar-14 10:33:46

You have to look at the stats for each individual school.

Here's a school that has been failing/in special measures:

2012 GCSE pass rate = 41%, which is very bad
2013 GCSE pass rate = 60%, which is average nationally, below average for Surrey

Value Added scores are at 1030 (+2SD), which is very good.

However, the number of GCSEs being sat are low:
"Average entries per pupil - all qualifications" - 11.5, 12.5, 13.7 for low, middle and high attainers
"Average entries per pupil - GCSEs only" - 4.0, 5.8, 8.5

Basically the average students are spending the majority of their time on vocational qualifcations (7.7 'entries', which are actually probably much less if you count individual qualifications, as some are counted as equivalent to 2 or 4 GCSEs to only 5.8 entries).

The school is hammering at English and Maths and the average GCSE pass rates are actually very good - E+, C- and B+ respectively, but as you can see from the EB stats (only 10 out of 137; eBacc = English, Maths, science, foreign language and a humanity) and the number of GCSEs sat, the breadth is poor.

Comparing a more desirable middle class school:

This is a much larger school, with 2000 students, and the result is a large cohort of 'high attainers'/bright pupils (117). GCSE pass grades are similar: E-, C and A-, but the school is more academically focused, with GCSE entries per pupil of 5.6, 9.0 and 10.7, and 138 eBacc entries.

The first school, is basically acting as a form of secondary modern, and actually does better by the lowest ability students than the second one.

Obviously there is much more clamour for a school that does well by the high attainers than the low attainers.

TalkinPeace Thu 06-Mar-14 11:54:45

the Telegraph tables are incomplete and not transparent
ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS use the Dfe tables
as they include the full data set and allow you to filter by area and type of school so that you are comparing like with like

Blu Thu 06-Mar-14 14:39:46

OP, why don't you simply ask MNers to recommend state schools they rate and think are good, and give some idea of areas - such as maximum commuting distance or NSE orW London which would suit you. And specify co-ed or single sex.

Then you can research the prospectuses, Ofsted reports and Dept of Education profiles.

TheWave Thu 06-Mar-14 14:50:29

I have long wanted to filter out religious and partly selective from league tables, but have found it difficult so am interested in any further answers. Apart from looking at individual schools' prospectuses...

TalkinPeace Thu 06-Mar-14 20:04:19

the dfe tables have a filters section so you can choose by gonad policy, god policy, exam policy and sponsor

BananaChoccyPancake Thu 06-Mar-14 21:59:16

Today's Evening Standard has a list that might help:

BewitchedBefuzzledBewildered Thu 06-Mar-14 22:25:50

Thank you for the helpful advice re: Dept of Education tables, I didn't even know they existed blush

As for the 'ignorant' comment, words fail me...

TalkinPeace Thu 06-Mar-14 22:31:03

Moving ito catchment is not always doable
I could never afford to buy my own home because of house price rises in the 18 years since I bought it
let alone buying a house even half the size in the catchment for the school my children attend

only the extremely rich can consider moving house just for schools

Mintyy Thu 06-Mar-14 23:21:21

Why do words fail you? It makes me incensed this casual "oh lets just move to a good catchment area" attitude. If you really think that is always doable ... well, you have my opinion.

MarriedDadOneSonOneDaughter Fri 07-Mar-14 07:19:00

Minty - don't you think you could have politely made your point, like TP has, without calling someone ignorant?

TP - not wanting to get into personal details, but you are sitting on 18 years of property profits in your house. Isn't that why you could "afford" to move? However, I agree that property prices and catchment areas make it hard for people "in general", but ......

I think the OP makes the comment from their own personal perspective. They are capable of moving but they are not capable of "finding god". Why do you two think this is a generalisation about everyone? I didn't read it that way. The question is specifically seeking an answer for themselves, not everyone.

People seem far to short tempered and easily offended on these forums.

BananaChoccyPancake Fri 07-Mar-14 08:24:37

MarriedDad, I agree it was rude, and well done you for pointing that out so clearly and politely.

However, the OP also needs to be aware of the sensitivities around those sorts of issues. If she says it in the playground or on the bus people will feel resentment and not speak it. Here people can be more open, and its a good "leveller" in that respect.

Mumsnet is one of the few places where parents of all backgrounds mix socially, and that's one of the things that's so great about it.

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Fri 07-Mar-14 08:36:41

I think it was probably clumsily phrased, and which of us hasn't done that at some point? Probably the OP meant to say that there was no way in which she and her family would ever get/want a place in a school with strict religous entry criteria, but she was willing to go through the upheaval of moving if she could find a good school in a reasonable area where they could afford/want to move. I don't expect she was intending to be understood as saying that wherever this hypothetical school was, she would be able to buy nearby - not least because people with bottomless pockets are not often looking for good state schools.

MarriedDadOneSonOneDaughter Fri 07-Mar-14 08:45:39

That's better. Thanks BCP and AMWTB. I get enough bickering at home with the kids.


MarriedDadOneSonOneDaughter Fri 07-Mar-14 08:50:13

Sorry to sidetrack, but this comment got me thinking a bit.

"Mumsnet is one of the few places where parents of all backgrounds mix socially, and that's one of the things that's so great about it."

I have a theory that the common element amongst all here is being a "motivated" parent. Perhaps one can add "aspirational" in the broadest sense too (by that I don't just mean wealth or status).

The group that is really missing here are the opposites. Parents with no motivation or aspiration. Where is their forum, support and network?

Sorry, all a bit "up myself" there .....

frogs Fri 07-Mar-14 08:56:07

OP, I think you're asking the wrong question.

Anything involving the phrase "top secondaries" tends to lead in the direction of schools which hit the headlines for being league-table toppers, or sometimes just because they are currently fashionable among London journos' acquaintances.

The fact that a school is high up in the league tables (particularly those tables that appear in the right-of-centre press) doesn't really tell you much other than that the school has a large proportion of reasonably high-achieving kids. Often that is because the school is overtly or covertly selective in some form, either by academic tests, by religious criteria or by being in a catchment area of houses in the million-pound plus bracket. This kind of success tends to be self-perpetuating inasmuch as aspirational parents see the headlines and league tables, assume that this is the only school which is capable of nurturing their infant genius's potential, and move lemming-like into the catchment area, or jump through whatever other hoops the admissions process holds out for them.

If you are only going to be happy if your child is in a school surrounded by large numbers of dc from families very like your own, then you know what to do: read the league tables (Tatler, Daily Mail, Telegraph, Evening Standard), identify one of the dozen or so headline-grabbing schools and do what you need to do to get your child in.

On the other hand, if you just want a good school where your child will be happy and helped to reach their potential, then the good news is there are far more of those than the headlines would have you believe, and most of us with dc there are quite happy for them to remain low-profile. As others have said, you need to look at the DFE tables, which will tell you all sorts of useful information, like the proportion of high and low-achievers at entry, and what the outcomes are for the various groups. It will also tel you value-added figures, which is all about how much better (or worse) the outcomes are than would be predicted from the intake alone. Some of the high-profile schools actually have relatively poor value-added, because they are relying on the fact that they have an able intake with motivated parents who will pay for tutoring to cover the school's shortcomings. The other useful information is to find out what the outcomes are for the school's highest-achievers: if a school has a reasonable number of dc getting 10 or more As and A*s at GCSE, then it's fair to assume that they are doing well by their most able children, and will probably do well for yours.

Moral: don't believe everything you read in the newspapers, whether league tables or features.

BananaChoccyPancake Fri 07-Mar-14 09:11:16

Well said frogs. I know of a few schools that fall squarely into the category of "fabulous but unsung", and I'm keeping quiet about them. House prices are high enough in their neighbourhoods as it is.

"The group that is really missing here are the opposites. Parents with no motivation or aspiration. Where is their forum, support and network?"

I's interpret it differently. I think the groups represented here are:
1a. the "mavens" who are knowledgeable, know where to find information, and willing to share knowledge to help people.
1b.the people who are naturally inclined to seek help when they need it.

What they have in common, is that they're digitally literate.

The people who aren't represented are:
2a. the people who aren't naturally inclined to seek advice;
2b. The people who have knowledge, but either don't want to share it or don't like the discussion forum format either because they think its a bit geeky, or because they don't like the anonymity and lack of control over what is said.
2c. Anyone who isn't digitally literate.

The one group that can be helped most easily is group 2c. There are fantastic groups (e.g. this one) trying to increase digital literacy among parents.

TheWave Fri 07-Mar-14 09:18:54

TP thanks - I have looked at the DoE tables. Sort on COMP and then only take those where the religion bit is None or Does Not Apply?? Should be easy right?

Taking one example though - Watford Grammar is not a grammar but is semi-selective through various means but is labelled COMP. It is also labelled CoE ("ethos" I suppose) but as far as I know it does not select on religion.

So if this one school is labelled wrongly in at least 2 ways then how many others?

or are there further columns I should be sorting?

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