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Please help. '100 top prep schools'

(25 Posts)
preposterous Wed 23-Apr-14 06:47:35

Please can someone help me interpret this.

There is a published list annually of 100 top prep schools.
These include ONLY those prep schools that follow the National Curriculum and do SATS, which isn't by any means all of them.

I am trying to find out the KS 2 SATS results of the schools we are looking at for DS.
State schools publish this in an easy to understand format. But I cannot find published figures for the prep schools (as they are not legally obliged to publish them).

The list ranking the 100 best prep schools instead orders on an aggregate of KS2 L5 scores between 2009 - 2011, and comes up with a number to rank. But I don't understand how this aggregate is reached or what it means. So top scorers have an aggregate around 650 and bottom third around 350.

Please can someone tell me how I work out what this number means so I can understand on average what percentage of the year group achieved L5. Does each L5 equal a number of points? Is the information provided of any use if I don't know the size of the year group?

I know sats aren't everything. But it would be helpful to know if our local state schools are achieving similar to some of the unselective prep schools we are looking at. That would be quite telling, given the advantage of the prep schools and the fact that they ram homework down their throat. I find venturing into this prep world very disconcerting and largely smoke and mirrors.

Thank you!

MrsC1966 Wed 23-Apr-14 07:01:12

This is probably the wrong way to choose a prep school. My daughter's one didn't do Sats and success was measured by scholarships and entry into the senior schools. Best to visit the schools you have in mind, both state and prep, and let that little inner voice inside your head tell you which one is right for your child. Talk to kids & parents at the school and have a long chat with the head. If you're not keen on the head,the most brilliant Sats results really aren't going to sway you. It's an imprecise method but you know your child best and you will just know when you've found the best school environment for them. Good luck on your search

preposterous Wed 23-Apr-14 07:03:32

Thanks. I agree. But I still would like to know how to interpret tables if anyone can help.

Bowlersarm Wed 23-Apr-14 07:07:16

I don't think it would be telling at all, prep schools are working towards different academic goals. Common Entrance for example.

preposterous Wed 23-Apr-14 07:08:13

so googled and it seems L5 aggregate is 33 points. SO a school with 330 points is getting 10 kids to L5? Is that right? So if I know the year group size is 40, that means that only 25 per cent are getting L5. Which is what the averagely good state schools - without huge reams of homework - are achieving in our area.

preposterous Wed 23-Apr-14 07:09:51

It's telling to the schools which advertise themselves as the best 100 preps based on the NC level results.

EdithWeston Wed 23-Apr-14 07:15:39

If it's buried somewhere on the website, fair enough.

But any school which actively markets itself as "best" probably isn't (or at least that's how I see it). For example, newspaper tables can use unexplained filters leading to weird omissions (like a recent one for secondaries which did not have Westminster in the Top 100).

If the preps you are interested in do SATS, then just ask for their results. The DofEd tables will show all state school results for local comparison. Though of course the demographics won't be reflected in any useful way.

SanityClause Wed 23-Apr-14 07:20:07

The junior school my DDs went to used to get in the 90%s for level 5 when they used to do SATS. Even then, it wouldnt have been on your list, probably, as it is the junior school for a school that goes to 18.

I'm not sure what you're trying to achieve with this thread. Are you looking for a school, or looking to discredit the schools on the list you have found?

EdithWeston Wed 23-Apr-14 07:26:51

And of course, if you want high SATS results and it was your single measure of good primary education, then you would look for a school that prepared pupils only (or mainly) for SATS.

Preps generally don't do that, even if SATS are used. Preps prepare pupils for a range of possible final exams and cover quite a different syllabus, SATS (if taken in at all) are often just chucked in as an unprepared-for extra. So ascertaining how much SATS preparation features on the curriculum matters too - especially when making comparisons between state schools (as the level of 'teaching to e test' varies somewhat).

tiggytape Wed 23-Apr-14 10:46:52

If you are concerned about "huge reams" of homework it is probably worth considering that many state primary schools do massive amounts of preparation prior to the SATS with booster classes, booklets sent home at Easter, practice papers in class etc.
There are cases on MN where PE, art and other 'fun' lessons have been cut back or cancelled for the duration as well to allow extra time for drilling the children.

If you are looking to escape added pressure, many state schools with the high number of level 5s you are looking for only get this through pretty intensive coaching.

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 23-Apr-14 13:26:29

I think when looking at any school you need to think about what you want education to give your child is it
Entry to particular senior schools?
High SATS results?
No SATS at all?
Early exposure to languages?
I could go on, but my point is that preps cater for a wide variety of wants. There is no one prep school that is best for everyone there is the best school for your individual child.

tobybox Wed 23-Apr-14 13:32:34

The responses on this thread have been excellent and I agree with them all.

OP I echo Lonecat - you need to think about what you what your child's end goal to be and work backwards from there. Prep schools prepare - usually for the 11+ or 13+ - so use those results as your most objective comparison. If the local prep school sends 50% of their leavers to an outstanding local grammar and the local state school only sends 1 or 2 children there, that is more telling than the SATS results, which are less valid IMO.

mumoftwo100 Wed 23-Apr-14 13:43:10

What the Times Parent Power does is gets the percentage achieving level 5 in Maths (so out of 100) and adds it to the percentage achieving level 5 in English (out of 100 again), to get a score out of 200, which is repeated over 3 years to give an overall score out of 600, so even the lowest score of 315/600 in the league table still means over half the cohort have achieved Level 5s or above, and is definitely higher than any of the state primaries.

mumoftwo100 Wed 23-Apr-14 13:44:54

The 33 number which you have quoted is the average point score figure used for state primaries, which is a completely different measure in itself.

Blu Wed 23-Apr-14 13:44:58

"if our local state schools are achieving similar to some of the unselective prep schools we are looking at"

Achievement in terms of SATS levels tells you very little. The Dept of Edn tables on each school give you the SATS in relation to the base level ability of all the children taking them, so shows whether the shool has supported the children to meet or surpass expectation on arrival, or whether top results simply reflect the input. It show you whether a high ratio of low attainers has nevertheless resulted in high score SATS, or whether a high ability cohort has coasted along and gained the expected results.

The DEpt of Ed stats also show the % of children on FSM - which gives a context of the statistical link between economic disavantage and attainment.

All this informs the validity of the word 'best' or 'good' and the best schools are not necessarily those with the highest overall SATS scores.

preposterous Wed 23-Apr-14 13:49:41

Thank you. All very helpful. I appreciate it.

teacherwith2kids Wed 23-Apr-14 18:47:39

"315/600 in the league table still means over half the cohort have achieved Level 5s or above, and is definitely higher than any of the state primaries."

Just done this exercise (roughly) for my DC's state primary. Its score would be 420-450/600 - not taking into account its level 6s. it's not a top performing school in the area...

Schmedz Wed 23-Apr-14 21:16:55

And many of the best prep schools do not even bother with SATS - they don't believe in teaching to tests, but education!

LePetitPrince Wed 23-Apr-14 21:55:00

I would be wary of looking at the "offers" listed by some preps for secondary transfer. A teacher at a top prep once said that they have no polite way of double checking this information, e.g. "I got X, Y and Z but we decided on school A". It's not like secondary state school transfer which is fairly black-and-white.

AnnaMagdalena Wed 23-Apr-14 22:02:07

I have what feels like a lifetime's experience of prep schools, and I can honestly say that we never, ever chose a prep school based on league tables or test scores.

If you are choosing a prep school, think about what you and your DS want/need from it (is he sporty? Musical? Shy? Confident? The list is endless). Single sex, or co-ed? Do you want him to go to his next school at 11, or at 13? Does the prep tend to get children into their chosen schools at 11/13? But above all, go with your gut instinct when you look around (not just on an open day!!)

I have come across better prep schools than others, but smoke and mirrors have never been an issue.

teacherwith2kids Wed 23-Apr-14 22:03:05

Schmedz, though surely the 'reason for existence' of virtually all preps is to teach to an entrance test (or entrance tests) of destination schools? It may not be called SATs, it may instead be called Common Entrance or Pre-tests or Entrance exams - but they are the 'exit tickets' from prep schools, in the same way as SATs are 'exit cards' from state schools. And surely no prep school curriculum (except in those schools where 100% of children progress from prerp to senior school) ignores the requirements of / knowledge tested by such 'exit cards'?

Michaelahpurple Thu 24-Apr-14 18:32:12

None of the preps around here do SATS so that takes the academic London ones out of your reckoning , which has to make a bit of a debt in the "best" cohort. And they aren't OFSTEDed either so you can't use that as a ready reckoner. You can't chose a prep this way and if you were trying to establish that some preps are lower achieving than many state schools , don't bother - clearly there are lots of very ordinary preps and wholly excellent state primaries.

EldonAve Thu 24-Apr-14 19:06:29

You need to be looking at this another way
No prep school is truly unselective - they are selective in terms of parental income in the very least!

What prep schools are near you?
Where do their leavers go?
What is their ethos?
The Good Schools Guide can be useful

Pythonesque Thu 24-Apr-14 23:29:56

The preps I've been most impressed by in our area (sadly mostly boys not girls) don't even make passing reference to the national curriculum because the reality of what they are teaching and aiming for makes it largely irrelevant. The girls' preps seemed more likely to mention that they cover and enrich the national curriculum.

Part of my reasoning for going private was to keep my children a little further away from constant government interference in their education ...

I am not aware of any preps near us that do sats.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 26-Apr-14 13:57:52

The preps near us don't do SATS, nor do they use National Curriculum levels. The only friend I have whose children are educated privately looked utterly blank when I asked. I wouldn't know how to assess a school's academic success other than by asking around.

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