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Did you take league tables into consideration when choosing a school?

(23 Posts)
mollysmum82 Fri 14-Oct-11 20:00:48

My catchment school achieved 56% at SAT level 4 - do you know if this is average? There is a highly oversubscribed school down the road that achieved 73%.

I think looking round will be more important, but I'm just curious as to how much people took the league tables into consideration.

Thank you!

SE13Mummy Fri 14-Oct-11 20:06:10


SE13Mummy Fri 14-Oct-11 20:08:09

It would have been more helpful for me to explain why....

The league tables are put together by media organisations and, IMO, show little more than how one group of 11 year olds performed in a series of tests during one particular week in a particular year. When looking at schools for DD1 I wasn't that bothered about how children 8 or 9 years older than her had performed in tests.

mollysmum82 Fri 14-Oct-11 20:12:56

Thanks SE13Mummy, that's a great point

Ilelo Fri 14-Oct-11 20:58:53

Yes I am taking them into consideration in addition to Ofsted reports and visiting the schools. I can unashamedly say I am very unlikely to consider a school not achieving highly in KS2 SATs but has an outstanding Ofsted report as I believe Ofsted is probably subjective.

I feel it is useful as it is independent of the school, hence should give an indication of how good the teaching is at the school. It is likely that the schools doing well might only achieve such results because most of Year 6 is SATs revision, but I see no problem with that. Same way students taking GCSEs etc will be studying to pass the exams. Except I am missing something? The child has had Reception to Year 5 to play haven't they?

I realise that some pupils might be tutored privately in addition but since I intend to do that to supplement my 2 DDs schools, it isn't an issue for me. Just that I always had private tuition to supplement school as a child though I went to independent schools.

Guess it all depends on how you prioritise each criteria.

Haberdashery Fri 14-Oct-11 21:05:10

I looked at results and Ofsted reports but what I actually chose in the end was a school that came top in neither for our borough but seemed like a warm, fun, caring, inclusive place. DD is fairly bright and I don't think she will struggle with schoolwork so I'd rather she enjoyed her early experiences of school. I don't want her pushed or hothoused and I don't believe it would do her any good.

As for needing tutoring all the way through school, this seems crazy to me, particularly at an independent school. What on earth are you paying for if not good teaching? I went to a state primary and secondary independent and had tutoring for precisely nothing (apart from one term of, er, handwriting tuition at age 11 because it was so illegible - still is grin).

redskyatnight Fri 14-Oct-11 21:15:15

No. League tables tell you most about the "type" of children at the school. So the 91% at Level 4 SATs tells me that this is a school in a middle class area with supportive parents.

And the 51% at Level 4 SATs tells me this is a school in a more "mixed" catchment.

The 2nd school (yes I'm talking about schools near me) actually had a significantly higher CVA so I guess I would look at that (if it's still reported?)

GrimmaTheNome Fri 14-Oct-11 21:21:03

Yes, but its one of many considerations. The school we chose for DD had excellent yr6 SAT scores but more importantly it had the happiest atmosphere of the schools we looked at.

Mum2be79 Sat 15-Oct-11 21:56:58

CVA - contextual value added tells you about progress from Y2 to Y6 (average is 100 points). To get a true 'assessment' of a school you need to:

1. Visit the school
2. Talk to parents of children at the school
3. Look at the website, prospectus, past newspaper articles (to check for extra curricular activities and awards)
4. Progress children make from ENTRY into reception to Y6.
5. Observe the general well being and happiness of the children

My local Primary school has been graded 'Outstanding'. Though my child won't start at the school until 2017 (29 weeks and still cooking), I'm keeping a close eye on things as I've found (I'm a teacher) that schools with this grade are under enormous pressure to perform to this standard constantly and can put emphasis on targets and grades rather than well-being, pastoral care and social skills - far more important in a child of a vulnerable age. Also, I like my child to go to a school with a mixed catchment of middle and working class, which in my research, tends to be the schools that are 'satisfactory' and have 'lower' results, as it helps ground children and prepares them for what life is REALLY about rather than an environment where most children are from professional backgrounds, who take 2/3 foreign holidays a year and whose parents put education at the VERY top of priorities (nothing wrong in that but happiness is far more important).

As one poster said, why are you bothered about how one cohort of Y6s performed, being 6/7 years older than your child? results DO NOT reflect teaching - they reflect the children's abilities, which in my experience can change year on year depending on:
1. Numbers
2. SEN
3. Individual home life etc, etc.
4. Movement - i.e. how many of those Y6 children actually went through the school from YR.

Number 4 is important. 5 years ago, we did a statistical analysis on Y6. Of those who had been with us, 92% got level 4 or above. But because we had a lot of newcomers in Y5 and Y6, our results were down as 72%. League tables don't tell you that. In fact, they tell you VERY little.

exoticfruits Sat 15-Oct-11 22:18:56

It is laughable really, a school has a really good year group and go to the top of the table-parents flock and the school knows that it can't keep the position-the next year group are nothing like!

HappyMummyOfOne Sun 16-Oct-11 14:29:52

We looked at them but only along side several other things. The Ofsted report shows a lot of data about the school along with any positives and negatives and the school demograpgraphic.

Visiting itself and meeting other parents is vital though.

twinklytroll Sun 16-Oct-11 15:35:10

No, I tried to send my child to the local school. When that failed she was at the nearest after that.

PointyBlackHat Sun 16-Oct-11 18:07:08

I did look at the whole picture, but SATS did not come into it as we are 3-tier (though not for much longer) so no KS2 SATS at the school. I ended up going with visit reaults and chose the school that felt warmest, happiest etc. despite pretty indifferent OFSTED. The school is now rated good and close to outstanding, but that is based on a Yr2 and YR4 cohort who were unusually strong at the time of inspection - it changes from year to year and I wouldn't make it a deciding factor.

I agree that a high % level 4s is an indication of middle class leafiness rather than of the quality of teaching.

CrossEyed Sun 16-Oct-11 18:15:22

Yes, but only as one of many factors. I think a few percentage points here and there are nothing compared to the teachers, ethos, feel, community, ability to walk, grounds, facilities, etc.

If the results were very low, I would want to know why (and there are some good reasons I can think of). If they were very high, I would be alert to whether they were a results-factory and not offering a balanced experience.

Gotarty Sun 16-Oct-11 18:34:31

Yes I did - I was stupid and naive and I believed excellent Sats reflected good teaching instead it reflected the schools obsession with targets and very poor pastoral care and no focus on building social skills -you either had them or you didn't, nothing to do with the school - in fact just as Mumtobe79 described. We moved the dcs and deliberately avoided schools who were obsessed with league tables.

Elibean Sun 16-Oct-11 18:50:48

I looked at value added, but only as one factor amongst many.

Mostly, I looked at how I felt - and then how my dd felt - when I/she went on a visit to the school. I looked at how interested in their work the children seemed, how comfortable they were in relating to adults, how friendly and enthusiastic their teachers were. And I talked to the Head, to get a feel for her ethos.

CrossEyed Mon 17-Oct-11 10:28:57

There is so much to look at!

I looked at a couple of high schools with a friend last week. I was thinking initially how School1's displays and posters were so much better than School2#s. Then my friend pointed out that at School1 the displays were made by teachers, at School2 they were made by the students. Suddenly my feelings reversed....

MoreBeta Mon 17-Oct-11 10:32:36

Yes we did use league tables and we use them intelligently.

Frankly though, I would not put my children in a school that only got 56% SAT Level 4. The school that is getting 73% is where you need to send your child and you know that because it is oversubscribed for a reason.

MoreBeta Mon 17-Oct-11 10:36:22

Incidentally, we did take our DSs out of a school that had 100% SAT Level 4 because it was obsessed with league tables. However, 73% for a non selective school is good enough.

AmberLeaf Mon 17-Oct-11 10:40:18


There is soo much more to a good school than SATs results!

With my eldest I admit being swayed by them, but have found over the years that a school with really high levels is certainly not always the best school.

Many things to consider when choosing a school, this is the least of it TBH.

MoreBeta Mon 17-Oct-11 10:51:23

SATs are just one factor. A 'necessary' but not 'sufficient' factor.

What I mean by that is that If SATs scores slip below a critical level then no matter how good the rest of the facilities, quality of extra curricular activities, pastoral care, nice atmosphere, great sports/drama/music that still does not make up for a lack of basic educational attainment in core subjects.

On the other hand, a hot house school that delivers very high SATs scores through intense selection and has a embedded culture of bullying which teachers ignore is obviously a bad school.

teacherwith2kids Mon 17-Oct-11 16:46:18

I looked mainly at value add - I know that is mainly about KS2 but at least it gave an indication about what the school itself did rather than what the intake was like.

I did also look at average point score, but definitely as a 'minor' indicator. When moving, I was looking or a school where my very able DS would have a peer group, as he had been extremely unhappy at our small village school (leading to selective mutism and me removing him to home educate) priimarily because he was very different in ability to the remainder of his age group which led to him becoming extremely isolated.

At the end of the day, i went for a school with very high value add with a head who just seemed to 'click' with my son and was unusually 'child focused' in his approach (the visit round the school was the head showing my children around, with me definitely tagging along in the background!).

mollysmum82 Tue 18-Oct-11 14:13:11

Thank you for everyone's interesting comments, there's so much I hadn't considered!

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