New Secondary Schools for Richmond 4(1001 Posts)
Welcome. This is the fourth (or perhaps fifth) in a series of threads about Richmond Secondary Schools.
The discussion was originally triggered by Richmond council's publication of its Education White Paper in February 2011. It started with two parallel threads here and here.
In November 2011 the most active of the original two threads reached 1000 messages (the maximum allowed) so we continued the conversation here.
That thread filled up in May 2012, and was continued here.
It's now November 2012, and once again we're at the start of a new thread ....
In fact, Mossbourne's admissions policy says "The boundaries of each band reflect the national range of abilities", so unless some of their bands are undersubscribed, it sounds like they're doing what they can to make sure of a mixed intake.
Mossbourne is so successful that it is also the subject of appeals - especially for special needs cases. The headline is worrying but the detail suggests it already takes a good proportion of SEN pupils and does a great deal to raise attainment generally. Random allocation is pretty fair too. But then it was important for this school to be so successful that pupils are clamouring to get in despite the lack of certainty.
Chiswick School?s response to current educational changes - some powerful words from the Head.
Powerful and worthy of applause. New and impressive Head at Kingston Grammar has made similar comments (but on parent area of website)
News that funding will be cut for science a-levels. That may affect our schools planning sixth forms where they already have fewer resources for science teaching.
RPA is affected by Wandsworth where there is a banding test
I think RPA attracts Wandsworth kids for positive reasons rather than they are put off by the banding system. RPA is highly regarded by many and is also much greener with open space and playing fields on site. Many Wandsworth schools don't benefit from this. It is also very close to the Wandsworth border.
Maybe the schools with banding tests are too far away to be considered competitors. Elliott (Ark Putney) must be the nearest and it has distance as its main criteria. Elliott's results were much better last year including Ebacc. It will be interesting to compare 2012's results now that RPA appears to have caught up because they must have similar intakes and are now both sponsored academies.
Guardian Jan 15: Free schools: government ordered to publish list of bids:
Michael Gove must reveal the names, location and religious affiliation, if any, of all those organisations that apply to join the government's free schools programme, a tribunal has ruled. It rejected an attempt by the education secretary to limit any information only to successful applicants, saying that the programme, which establishes state-funded schools free of local authority control, involved substantial public funds and significant changes to the way the education service in England was controlled, managed and delivered. The transparency of the process and its openness to public debate were "of concern to communities" across the country, the tribunal ruled.
. . Humanists had wanted the names, locations and religions of all groups that applied to run free schools in 2011 and 2012 currently, they said, this is only known for the 79 schools already opened.
The DfE argued opposition would deter potential applicants and also might deter unsuccessful ones from applying again because of "negative" media attention. Faith schools might be particularly affected by campaigning by the BHA before they had the support of ministers, it said. The department cited a survey by the New Schools Network, which helps schools prepare for "free school" status. This suggested giving public information on unsuccessful applicants would have made nearly half of them less likely to apply or reapply for such status. "Premature" public knowledge could "disrupt the conduct of public affairs" and hurt the free schools programme, said the department. The tribunal said the survey on which the government chose to rely for its evidence was "poor" and biased.
Richy Thompson, faith schools campaigner for the BHA, said it was "vitally important, especially where such substantial sums of their money is involved, that the public is able to have its say in the decisions as to which proposals merit funding. Up to now this has been impossible for free schools, whose proposals are not revealed until the government has decided whether to support their opening."
"Michael Gove must reveal .... all those organisations that apply to join the government's free schools programme"
It's quite hard to see how free school groups could be under the radar anyway, given that the application process involves demonstrating demand, which generally involves some kind of advertising of the proposal.
The BHA did put together a list of groups last year, presumably just from web-trawling and gathering information from people about what was happening in their local area, but never knew if it was complete or whether the groups on their list actually did submit an application.
How well do children perform in England?s boroughs?
Chris Cook writes in FT Data, Jan 16: [Here is] some data that will help explore how well do children do at a borough level. I have worked out the FT score for each child (a score based on their performance in English, maths and three other GCSEs). I then ran a regression through the data, which predicts performance based on background and by local area . . the objective is to get a steer on how levels of attainment vary in different boroughs for an individual child of similar social circumstances . .
The principle here is that the score tells you where schools seem to be under-performing, for whatever reason, relative to similar children elsewhere . . In this case, I am comparing every school with Birmingham. The table tells us, for example that children in Camden (score = 4.1) beat children of a similar social background in Birmingham by four GCSE points on the FT score. That means they would do better by one grade in four GCSEs.
The 4 worst performing London boroughs are:
Richmond upon Thames 0.0
The 6 best performing London boroughs are:
Tower Hamlets 4.3
Hammersmith and Fulham 4.5
The average London score = 2.1; Kingston = 1.0 and Hounslow = 1.9.
Richmond borough is trailing badly vis-a-vis the London average. Why should that be, I wonder?
"Why should that be, I wonder?"
Hi Chris - I've only looked at it briefly so can't be sure, but I suspect it will be something to do with a combination of:
a) an anomalously high number of local children transfer to private schools at secondary level,
b) some schools close to the borough borders have intakes that differ significantly in socio-economic terms from the area they're located in.
The model excludes children at private schools, and (if I've interpreted it correctly) assumes that children go to school in the same MSOA that they live in.
Just to illustrate that with an example, according to its IDACI ranking, RPA is in one of the least deprived areas of the country, and its results will have been compared with areas that have similar IDACI rankings.
However, neighbouring Roehampton, where some of RPA's pupils presumably come from, has a much lower IDACI ranking (1077 for random local postcode SW14 8RG, compared to 30137 for RPA's postcode).
(The SOA with a rank of 1 is the most deprived, and 32482 the least deprived).
BayJay2: thanks for making this point: I have emailed the author, Chris Cook, asking him to clarify his method, which is only described informally in earlier posts:
Benchmarking school systems [Nov 05]
' . . I fit a simple line through all the pupils school results in the country after asking it to account for the childrens ethnicity, poverty and prior test results . . '
Londons big lead and social mobility [Aug 05] (FT score)
' . . I fed each childs region, special needs, ethnicity, neighbourhood poverty, mother tongue and free school meal eligibility . . '
The social mobility challenge for school reformers [Feb 22]
' . . We standardised the lot, then divided them up by the poverty of their neighbourhoods . . '
Note that Roehampton should be described as having a much higher ranking as the top rank = 1 and the bottom rank = 32482. Small number = high rank = poverty.
Camden, Newham, Tower Hamlets didn't have any sponsored academies with results in 2011, (Hammersmith just one, but their community schools showed massive improvements (e.g. up to 35%) compared with three years previously. Elsewhere academy improvement results are mixed - good and bad.
GCSE results without 'Equivalents' were given in 2011 - they clearly have bumped up pass rates for all types. But WITHOUT equivalents the lowest GCSE pass rates (5A-C inc E&M) for schools in Camden and Tower Hamlets were 45%. Contrast with Richmond schools:
2012 results should show if real progress has been made.
Sorry, just to correct one figure there:
Camden state school with lowest 2011 5 A-C inc EM GCSEs excl. equivalents was 43%. Profile:
18% 'high' attainers, 59% English not first language, Disadvantaged 44%
Tower Hamlets state school with lowest 2011 GCSE score excl. equivalents 45%. Profile:
15% 'high' attainers, 70% English not first language, Disadvantaged 66%.
RPA 39%. Profile:
21% 'high' attainers, 31% English not first language, Disadvantaged 29%
TA 36%. Profile:
17% 'high' attainers, 24% English not first language, Disadvantaged 15%
I'm not suggesting RPA and TA are especially appalling schools compared with most with that sort of intake but HATS OFF to those other schools/LAs with a similarly level of prior attainment but twice as much poverty and potential language barriers. Chris asked this question:
Richmond borough is trailing badly vis-a-vis the London average. Why should that be, I wonder? How about:
1. Many inner London boroughs have participated in the City Challenge programme for the last few years - lots of highly targeted, specialist and management support, lots of additional funding, lots of cooperation between schools in a local area. Did Richmond get any of it? I think we are a low funded borough without the same scale of inner city problems.
2. The fact that those inner city schools have high numbers of pupils with English as a second language does make me wonder whether the 'low/high' attainers percentages can be accurate. Fewer in those areas are being creamed off to private sector too. Perhaps it's language skills holding them back at primary school and that skews the attainment figures.
3. Perhaps there is also a margin of error in the assessment of Richmond pupils with their level 6 SATs results. I have heard secondary school heads say that on retesting in Y7 about 10% are assessed to be at a lower level than their SATs results. It's to primary schools' advantage that results are high. It's to secondary schools' advantage that they can manage expectations.
4. We don't know anything about family backgrounds but perhaps in Tower Hamlets there are many from immigrant communities with a strong sense of aspiration and self-discipline irrespective of the level of poverty. Studies keep showing how poor white boys generally underperform.
The Richmond academies have changed dramatically from their predecessor schools so I am not sure of the value in dwelling on these 2011 results - 2012 will show a very different picture. These 2011 results reflect the outcomes for students who had most of their schooling pre the launch of the academies. The new systems/approaches which were brought in with the academies started to have much greater impact on outcomes in 2012 because the students have had longer within the academy.
The 2011 results were the first to show the proportion of GCSE 'equivalents' as well as results for those with different levels of prior attainment so will be a useful comparison. Provisional results here on p.9. Full 2012 results come out on 24 January.
Meanwhile Michael Gove TES considers even GCSEs without equivalents to be inferior and apart from the new EBCs is offering only a
sticker certificate of achievement (although his own science education appears to lack rigour). The TES asks whether the new EBCs will be Michael Gove's poll tax.
Well those provisional results illustrate the point that 2012 results are significantly different. RPA pushed up their 5 A* to C with EM by 18 points when the borough average dropped by 1 point (presumably due to the English GCSE grade boundary change.
Yes, RPA is the only sponsored academy to have such a significant rise in GCSE results. But the relatively low Ebacc score of 8% hasn't changed much for three years so I think there may be a lot of equivalents. Chris Squires pointed out an FT blog earlier that demonstrated how AET made most use of equivalents out of all the chains (considered to be 'gaming the system'), and the 2011 results for other schools showed a 10-20% drop when they were removed. It rang alarm bells. I don't want prejudge RPA unfairly though, as it didn't make much use of them last year. There are lots of other measures in the full table which help show where progress is being made.
The problem with the Ebac is that is was introduced retrospectively. So the students taking GCSE's in 2011 and 2012 (in any school) did not know of its existence when selecting options. Generally students were encouraged to select a range of subjects but particularly ones where they enjoyed the subject and performed well.
From 2013 onwards, students have made selections knowing about Ebacc. This should push up the proportions. I think RPA fell down due to lower uptake of languages; they are very strong in humanities. Apparently their uptake of Spanish in particular rose significantly for the cohort this year. Of course the subject which suffer will be the arts. And that is another subject entirely.
I think the number entered for two sciences was also lower than average in 2011. But that could be because they don't have the lab space yet. I appreciate the rebuild is still going on in all the academies and it is challenging for staff and pupils alike.
Am confused about all the concerns in the media about arts suffering with the Ebacc introduction. Isn't it only related to 6 GCSE subjects, so presumably students can still select additional arts subjects, don't many take more than six GCSEs?
English Baccalaureate actually mean two different things. At the moment 'Ebacc' in the league tables means pupils who have passed GCSEs in Maths, English (which usually means Lang and Lit), a foreign language, history or geography and two sciences. This was Gove's quick and simplistic way of imposing a GCSE subject curriculum on all schools. So that's 6-7 GCSEs and already a lot of schools are finding it difficult to timetable art, music, drama, design technology subjects, engineering, computing, or there is increasingly less choice.
But Gove wants to go further. He has suggested GCSEs are broken and need to be replaced with new harder exams from 2015 just in the core subjects above with no coursework assessment, only three hour exams at the end and possibly a return to norm referencing where only 10% can pass irrespective of the cohort. He also wants to limit exam boards to one board per subject. This is before the curriculum itself has been decided so some say it's cart before horse, and by downgrading GCSEs (it's unclear even whether they will be abolished) he is giving a signal that art, drama, engineering etc. has a lesser value. He's said that the alternative to passing the Ebacc suite is a 'certificate of achievement'.
See the debate in parliament on 16 Jan (scroll down to 'Examinations reform'. Even Conservatives are questioning why GCSEs can't just be reformed, whether harder exams will demotivate considering only 50% now pass 5 GCSEs inc English and Maths and he wants to limit that further, whether the right skills can be taught and assessed in three hour exams. During the debate David Laws popped out to meet someone and Michael Gove was looking at his phone.
twix45 In addition to what muminlondon has said part of Goves justification for his changes is that he is introducing the rigour of the private sector and which unis are asking for. My daughters went to a very academic private school, actually one is now at another. The focus in the private sector is on a minimum of compulsory GCSEs generally Maths, English Lang and Lit, double or triple Science and a language , precisely so that there is the flexibility for pupils to focus on their talents and interests. Most also set a limit of 10 as a balance between demonstrating academic ability and doing as well as possible in each subject. It can be a struggle to fit everything in if a student wants to do drama, music (which is actually a very tough GCSE) and art which are talents equally valued in the private sector quite a few will sacrifice a humanity because they want to focus on those talents, not least because they can lead to university studies and careers in a thriving part of our economy. Religion and ethics is given also given equal weight to other humanities especially as it leads on to the popular philosophy courses at A level and uni. I an an academic at a uni specialising in area studies and it is a seen as a valuable Gcse for applicants to have studied.
Indeed the Russell group of unis and private school heads are questioning the speed and radical nature of the changes and pleading for some stability, change was needed but it is agreed that the current system could be improved and made more rigorous without throwing the baby out with the bath water. His proposals on the History curriculum are particularly coming in for almost universal criticism.
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