New Secondary Schools for Richmond 4

(1001 Posts)
BayJay2 Fri 09-Nov-12 21:26:33

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 ....

muminlondon2 Sat 19-Jan-13 12:55:53

Nelsonelson was right to point out that there may be good reasons why Ebacc scores are low for the sponsored academies. But now some of our schools' specialisms no longer have equal weight or count towards the Ebacc, so are already at a disadvantage even if they do amazing things in motivating pupils, developing confidence, creativity and communication skills, or technical project planning expertise, business innovation, etc. Compare:

Hampton - the arts
RPA - English and business with Maths and ICT
Twickenham Academy - Digital Technology and sport
Teddington - Visual arts
Christ's - Humanities
Grey Court - Science, computing and maths
Orleans Park - Maths, computing and language
Waldegrave - science

Jonathan Ive, the iMac and iPod designer, is just one in a whole list of critics. And much of the criticism of GCSEs has already been addressed or could be reviewed gradually, e.g. equivalents in league tables, resits, balance of coursework and exams in English and Maths, etc. They're not broken at all.

Heathclif Sat 19-Jan-13 13:48:53

Goves other other justification for changes is that we are falling behind International standards. Asian and in particular Singapore's system is one he holds up as a model, and yet, rather like the work of our greatest Scientists wink(is a similar ignorance of Darwin to blame for the apparent tolerance of creationism in free school proposals?), he seems to have completely missed the controversy that is raging in Singapore over their government's failure to achieve it's aim to ensure it's education system fostered the skills of creatiivity and innovation that are seen as essential to it's future as a world economy. Some (rather dry) background here

In fact they are looking to America to provide the education models that will deliver that aim.

Twix45 Sat 19-Jan-13 15:46:33

Thank you, all very comprehensive explanations! I do find the English system so confusing despite having a child doing GCSEs (He is finding Music one of the hardest). I had a continental European education where we chose the type of college we wanted at 14 and then studied all subjects to 18 - seems simpler to me as what I am used to!

muminlondon2 Sat 19-Jan-13 17:11:23

Michael Gove is always quoting international studies like PISA to prove we are behind other countries. But the UK is, according to a Pearson study, sixth in the world and ahead of the US, Germany, France, Canada, etc.

As for ditching tests at 16 altogether and having different school pathways of equal value for 14-18 year-olds, that is what Conservative ex-education minister Kenneth Baker (who brought in GCSEs) is proposing in his new book. And Labour have started talking about a technical baccalaureate too. Successful education reform will only work with consensus. As parents we need to understand and be reassured that our children will not be left out. But in my view Gove is very elitist and divisive, not a consensus builder.

Twix45 Sat 19-Jan-13 20:48:40

The model I was brought up in was certainly not perfect, very classroom based without all the practical resources here eg science labs, but it was very egalitarian in the sense that going to technical or teacher training college was not looked down on or seen as a lesser qualification, so a technical baccalaureate might be a good idea. It is worrying though that our kids seem to be constantly used as guinea pigs, my youngest will be one of the first to take the new exam if it's introduced - just as I am beginning to understand GCSEs!

muminlondon2 Sun 20-Jan-13 12:45:06

I think you've defined the problem here - the headline on this Telegraph article on Labour's technical baccalaureate implies it's for those who wouldn't otherwise pass Gove's new EBCs, rather than an equal alternative (and one taken a different stage). Meanwhile Lord Baker's vision would require a structural reform/redesignation of schools and I can't see how it can be planned or accepted by individual schools. A technical baccalaureate could be a fair alternative if it can be offered in all or the majority of schools but that assumes sixth forms and large size for economy of scale. 

In the end Labour will probably abandon Gove's plan but not before he has undermined confidence in GCSEs - wilfully and unnecessarily in my view.

ChrisSquire2 Wed 23-Jan-13 18:24:16

Michael Gove delays much of A-level revamp leaving schools with sixth forms facing big changes to exams in 2015 (the Guardian on today's news)

LProsser Wed 23-Jan-13 21:29:53

This is very confusing for us parents who are nothing to do with education! Does the current AS level not have any standalone value?

Twix45 Thu 24-Jan-13 08:33:15

Another very interesting article from Lord Baker . If only he were in charge rather than Gove!

Heathclif Thu 24-Jan-13 09:22:35

Lottie With daughters having gone/going through A levels I would say there were advantages and disadvantages to AS levels. The disadvantages were that:

*there are three years of relentless exam taking, especially hard if you are moving to a new school / college at 16 and are thrown straight into two terms of covering the syllabus at a fast pace followed by exams, one term if you are taking modular A levels. Latymer and Oratory have already done away with sitting any exams at 17, they sit AS and A2 at 18 on the basis it gives them a third term of teaching in Year 12, as well as takes the pressure off and turns Year 12 back into a year where there is more room for achieving other things beyond the exam curriculum, both academic and extra curricular. Of course it puts the pressure back on at A2 and my daughter said she would not have wanted to do them all at once just because of the sheer workload, but then she did all 4 through to A2.

*I gather research shows boys do seem to do worse by taking AS levels so hot on the heels of GCSEs, especially if they are modular, and a lot under perform. I would say from my daughters peers that frankly it is because they are less mature, though there may be other sound psychological reasons why this might be.

*They can encourage a resit culture, students thinking if they don't do well this time, there is a chance to change it.

The advantages:

* The reason they were first introduced was to widen post 16 curriculum, to have something of the breadth of the IB. In the rest of the world the UK system is seen as narrow, specialising early. It gives students a chance to do a fourth discipline, sometimes something quite different to their main specialism. For instance I think it is quite favourably looked on if a would be medic has studied a humanity or other non Science subject, shows they are rounded. It can also give an academic student a chance to enjoy a talent e.g art, theatre studies. I don't know if Gove plans to have some means of a student doing a half subject or whatever, the Labour party are talking about taking Maths to 18 for instance.

*It gives students a chance to road test four subjects before dropping one, my daughter looks like dropping the subject she most wanted to do at A level, and possibly uni, because it turns out not to be what she thought and it also turns out she is actually doing much better at A level at her other subjects than she did at GCSE.

*It gives students evidence of achievement to offer to universities in their applications to back up predicted grades. Universities do not want to see the demise of ASs for that reason.

* They can act as a kick up the back side for the lazy, room for making mistakes and learning lessons, because they can resit with A2.

I have mixed feelings about what Gove is proposing, it doesn't seem as if it will be as disastrous as what he is proposing at GCSE, and it rather depends on what emerges in terms of the curriculum, workload and implementation plan. I think putting the curriculum in the hands of universities might be a good thing, providing they get the necessary resource, in terms of protecting it from political meddling, the old universities joint matriculation boards did seem to make for a more stable playing field. From the point of view of (an element of) my specialism, at least putting the History curriculum in the hands of universities should proof it from the sort of changes he proposes at GCSE which are out of step with how it is studied in universities, unless he puts Niall Ferguson in charge.......

Twix45 Thu 24-Jan-13 09:38:36

Very informative as ever Heathclif! Have to say am quite relieved my eldest has just chosen to take the IB rather than A Levels, a known quantity to me which seems exempt from government tampering! But worried my youngest will be one of the first to go through new system if it's introduced, even if it works better fear it will take some years to bed in. Fun and games ahead...

LProsser Thu 24-Jan-13 09:52:38

Thanks Heathclif. The idea of roadtesting several subjects in the first year of the sixth form and then dropping one or two seems a good one to me and I also thought it seemed quite a good idea to get some of the assessment out of the way after one year given that there would be internal exams anyway but I can see it must be stressful. The idea of deciding what type of school to go to at 14 as proposed by Kenneth Baker seems quite strange. I would have no idea at 13 when presumably you have to apply whether my child should be going to study how to design pistons for Rolls Royce or staying in an academic setting or learning to grout bathrooms although I'm pretty sure she wouldn't want to go to performing arts college! It seems a bit divisive and not to allow for children who develop at different paces. My old flatmate from University was a disaster at school and only did two A-levels but got taken in for a degree probably because of his lowly parentage (dad a dustbin man) and went on to get a first and is now a Professor at UCL. He didn't really get it until he was about 19 or 20. I'm sure he'd have been pushed into the vocational college and been a very bad grumpy plumber!

ChrisSquire2 Thu 24-Jan-13 10:26:07

Twix45: please correct this link as it it points to the picture only not the article.

Here's his recent Guardian interview:

ChrisSquire2 Thu 24-Jan-13 14:29:52

Failing schools and top schools:

Chris Cook writes: Today is league table day, when school exam results are published. The most interesting part of the table is the bottom: 195 schools* are below the government’s “floor targets”. These schools are risk of being taken over by a third party to turn them around (if the process is not already underway). Schools in this category have fewer than 40 per cent of their pupils get Cs or better in English, maths and three other subjects. They must then also have fewer than 70 per cent of the schools’ pupils making “expected progress” in both English and maths.

A few system-level observations:

- London does really well. Really well. Only 11 of its schools are below target. Only four are in inner London. The outer boroughs are now a bigger educational problem than the inner city . .

For those of you more concerned about ultra-high performers, we can take a look at the other end of the table. One of its oddities of the league table is that it relies on the government’s five A* to C measure – so about 100 schools are tied at the top with 100 per cent.

To help tell them apart, here is how those schools did, ranked on the FT score;

. . 6 The Tiffin Girls' School Kingston upon Thames ACC Grammar 39.07
. . 43 Tiffin School Kingston upon Thames ACC Grammar 38.01
. . 52 Kingston Grammar School Kingston upon Thames IND 37.69
. .

he doesn't provide a link to the actual league tables.

ChrisSquire2 Thu 24-Jan-13 14:49:58

League table link:

Richmond upon Thames 2012 Performance Tables

muminlondon2 Thu 24-Jan-13 19:51:26

Just had a look at the 2012 performance tables. What's fascinating to compare are intake changes from 2011. It's really difficult to know if they're a blip or a trend, but it does underline how results are pretty much a direct reflection of prior attainment (duh!). I've noticed:

- RPA had a much more balanced intake for its 2012 Y11 in terms of ability, close to the national average - but with higher than average GCSE results (with or without equivalents!), despite other challenges, so that's really positive news.
- TA suffered from a much less balanced intake including prior attainment. Its English GCSE results reflect that.
- Despite the English GCSE unfairness, Christ's, Waldegrave, Grey Court and Orleans Park all did very well for 'middle attainers'. Christ's also significantly raised achievement for 'low attainers' along with RPA and TA.
- Waldegrave and Grey Court did even better on the Ebacc  than in 2011 (both science specialist schools), and along with Orleans Park and Teddington are well above national average.

muminlondon2 Thu 24-Jan-13 22:02:50

There are signs of improvement at Twickenham Academy - 48% of its 'middle attainers' passed 5 A-C GCSEs (or equivalent) including English and Maths (up from 42% in 2011), beating Teddington on 44% (down 20% from 2011). TA's improvement seems to a result of: more entered for double science GCSE, better Humanities results, more entered/better results for language GCSE. Teddington's dip in results seems to be due to English GCSE and a slight drop in Maths.

Hampton Academy also saw a drop in its English results, which is a shame because it improved its Maths passes.

Twix45 Thu 24-Jan-13 22:54:48

Hope this works:

Nelsonelson Fri 25-Jan-13 13:06:02

Picking up on muminlondon's point - looks like Teddington did well with their high attainers who are the easier group to move on (all schools do reasonably well with this group). Teddington had equal numbers of middle and high attainers but only achieved well with their higher attainers. As muminlondon says, only 44% of middle attainers got their 5 with Eng and Maths. That compares to 57% at RPA and 62% at Grey Court.

Then look at the low attainers -some schools seem to be letting these kids down - none of them at Grey Court got 5 with Eng/Maths and only 4% at Teddington (which is one student). On the other hand Twickenham did better with 12% and RPA managed 18% showing that these students can achieve.

Heathclif Fri 25-Jan-13 13:47:06

I would be careful of interpreting and comparing results where the English GCSE grade meddling may have had an impact, also remembering that it affected pupils at the A*/A/B border as well as C/D. It's impact may well have varied between boards so not all schools were affected equally. Not all schools have details of the boards they use on their website but Teddington and RPA were AQA, Orleans Park and Greycourt WJEC.

Nelsonelson Fri 25-Jan-13 15:10:23

Does that mean that OP and GC did not suffer at all from the grade boundary changes?

ChrisSquire2 Fri 25-Jan-13 16:19:14

The Kingston Guardian reports: Kingston Council-backed free school reaches next stage of funding bid (Jan 25):

A Kingston Council-backed free secondary school bid has beaten a church bid to the next stage for funding after gaining the backing of more than 800 parents. A new six-form entry school on the site of the North Kingston Centre in Richmond Road has been submitted to the Government by the Kingston Educational Trust, backed by Kingston University, Kingston College and Kingston Council.

The RTT reports: Extra school places in Richmond under consultation (Jan 25):

. . Vineyard Primary School . . could permanently increase its annual reception intake from 60 pupils to 90, from September 2014, if Richmond Council’s plans go ahead . .

Still no 'need' for extra secondary places, it seems.

Heathclif Fri 25-Jan-13 16:46:30

Nelsonnelson If you remember the welsh government intervened to have the grade boundaries moved back, but that only applied to pupils who sat the exam in Wales. From this it appears they were affected, but if the grade boundaries were moved to the same extent as other boards is another matter.

There is certainly quite a big difference in the extent to which private school results (some have been open with parents, and even the press) were affected in both English and English Literature and in the IGCSE results, which are supposedly immune to political meddling. Here is a local example, look at the Eng Lit results compared to the rest, they don't have 2011 results on the site but they are 40% down on last year, which would be hard to explain by a difference in cohort. The Head at Wycombe Abbey went to the press with similar problems.

muminlondon2 Fri 25-Jan-13 17:40:34

Of the seven schools that got the best grades for high attainers (A/A-) in the whole of Wandsworth, Hounslow, Kingston and Richmond, two were academically selective and three were VA schools (selective on religious grounds), all with more than 42% high attainers and fewer than 10% low attainers. The other two schools are Waldegrave (girls, with 50% higher attainers) and Orleans Park (the only mixed community school, 38% high attainers).

Interestingly, while those schools also achieved more than 50% Ebacc pass rate for high attainers, they did not always have the highest Ebacc scores in their borough for that ability range. Which just shows how hard it is to get high scores in all of the subjects in that range.

muminlondon2 Fri 25-Jan-13 17:42:06

Nelson primary is also consulting on expanding to three-form entry. See Richmond council website.

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