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How important are KS2 results in a school?

(17 Posts)
Smurfing Tue 26-Jan-16 15:20:15

My catchment school is historically poor - based on local gossip and old ofsteds. When I visited the school and got the inside info from a chatty school secretary the blame was placed on poor leadership and governors - all since changed. The school was taken over by an academy group two years ago and I have no recent Ofsted to go on. Its a small school - 115 pupils but only 9 took most recent KS2 tests - does this seem odd? It seems like such a small number.

only 33% achieved L4 and the other children L3 or lower. But 100% progressed two levels up in writing and maths. Only 78% progressed two levels up in reading. No previous years data to see whether becoming an Academy has improved the school results.

This is my catchment school, but not my preferred choice. Realistically, DC still stand a good chance of being allocated this school.

I'm swinging between ignoring all results and seeing what comes in September when my first DC starts school to immediately putting the house for sale and moving asap. Anyone else been in the position?

Tiggles Tue 26-Jan-16 21:45:24

Similar size school to ours and we do have small cohorts like that then some are a lot larger (Well more like 15pupils so not massive) DS1 was in a small cohort of about 10.
The progression of 2 levels is actually very important - if the children had all reached level 4 but only made 1 level of progression since year 2 it could show they had a good KS1 but not so good KS2 for example.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Wed 27-Jan-16 00:01:13

Could you contact the school and ask about the results? In particular the 78% reading progress and why % of children achieving level 4 was so low. With a class size of 9, the results are likely to be fairly unreliable. But in my experience new leadership teams that are turning around schools that have been failing in the past are usually quite happy to talk about what they have achieved when asked.

It might open up a bit of data that wouldn't otherwise be available to you.

steppemum Wed 27-Jan-16 00:12:34

my kids go to a school which is now outstanding.
7 years ago it was in special measures. They had new head, new leadership and within 2 years there was a massive change.

so it is possible. I think I would ask to meet head and ask her/him directly how they are turning the school around.

progress is always more important than levels. But small cohorts are very hard to judge anything on.

Mashabell Wed 27-Jan-16 06:55:51

I would visit the school and also talk to some parents whose kids are there, but my main consideration would be how close the school is to where u live. (That was always our choice, including local comp over grammar 9 miles away. They both ended up at Oxbridge, so i have no regrets and am probably a bit biased and perhaps a bit big-headed too. I always thought that what we did for our kids would make the biggest difference.)

The KS2 results depend more than anything on the kids the school gets. The abilities children are born with and the learning support they get at home are reported still the main determinants of how well children do. If large numbers of parents who are able to exercise their choice, by doing things like moving house, start to shun a school because they are worried about its performance, it becomes very difficult for the school to score well.

So to a large extent it's the parents of bright kids who determine how well or badly schools do with the choices they make. If u get a small group of parents with bright kids sending them to a particular school, they make a big difference.

Feenie Wed 27-Jan-16 07:28:52

The KS2 results depend more than anything on the kids the school gets. The abilities children are born with and the learning support they get at home are reported still the main determinants of how well children do

I find this kind of attitude absolutely staggering from an ex-secondary school teacher. shock

Smurfing Wed 27-Jan-16 08:03:17

I did try visiting the school, but I found the head friendly but quite evasive. To be fair she is new to the post and school but she just stuck to the party line of everything now being changed for the better and with better resourcing. I got far more honest info about the school from the school secretary beforehand.

I felt the HT was trying to jargon her way out of some of my questions and didn't really acknowledge any of the challenges the school might currently have. They had just had a mock ofsted conducted by an outside company but whilst she wanted to tell me about it, she just kept repeating that their teaching had been judged as good. My main concern based on local anecdotes and old ofsteds is more behaviour management. But my visit was booked by the school for 9am so all classes we visited were of course well behaved.

I haven't yet found a parent to ask who has pupils currently at the school.

It would be such an upheaval to move and private school would be a last ditch alternative as we would struggle to pay for it from year 1. So I guess we just wait and see, and hope it's a non-issue if DC get into the preferred choice school! I never knew schooling would be so stressful when they haven't even started!

catslife Wed 27-Jan-16 09:15:08

As other posters have said with an extremely small year group, it's very difficult for KS2 results to be consistent. If the school has undergone a lot of changes in recent years then this could have affected the higher year groups more and is less likely to be a problem in future.
In some areas able pupils are moved into the private sector aged 8 or 9 and this can mean that SATS results are lowered compared to schools with a better retention of pupils from aged 4 to 11.
The most important thing isn't the actual levels achieved, but the amount of progress made by each child and 2 levels progress is actually higher than average progress.
Having said that our child went to a primary school with below average KS2 results and it improved enormously over the years. The KS2 results for my dds year group were the best ever and it's now regarded as one of the best schools in the area. Hope that provides some encouragement for the future.

Mashabell Wed 27-Jan-16 09:23:21

Catslife
U probably helped to improve your kids' school enormously by sending your kids to it.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Wed 27-Jan-16 10:50:42

2 levels isn't higher than average progress. It is expected progress and 78% making expected progress is low although given each pupil is roughly 10%, one child missing by a couple of marks would make a significant difference and bring it much closer to an average figure.

The high % of children achieving expected progress in writing and maths might also be masking lower than expected progress across KS1. Making 2 levels of progress doesn't necessarily mean that children have achieved what they are capable of.

steppemum Wed 27-Jan-16 11:36:05

Mashabell.

my kids school is in an area which lies on the border between a large estate and a more mc residential area. The school has a higher than average number of children who receive free school meals.
The intake of the school scores well below national average across the board.

Yet at the end of year 6 they have excellent results, in fact they are in the top 200 schools in the country. Every year they have a higher than national average number of children achieving level 4, 5 and 6.

Not only that, but those kids have achieved that by having to progress MORE than your average kid, as their base line starting point was lower than average.

yes the intake is relevant, but the school has a responsibility to get the best it possibly can out of the kids. I find your attitude, as someone in the education sector, shocking. Low expectation = low results. Every teacher knows that.

catslife Wed 27-Jan-16 13:31:44

mashabell I doubt that in a year group of 75-90 across the school, one child's performance at KS2 would be statistically significant compared to the small year group size at the OPs school.

The factor that made the biggest difference at dds school was having a new Head who wanted to raise the achievement of all pupils regardless of their family background and academic ability and recruited teachers and staff who followed his vision and enabled this to be achieved. It did take approx 2-3 years for significant improvements to feed their way up through the school.
The fact they have had a "mock" OFSTED implies to me that they are expecting a real inspection soon. (OFSTED don't visit new academies in their first academic year).

steppemum Wed 27-Jan-16 13:36:47

actually Cat, the mock ofsted is used by a school to see how they are doing.

Our school pays to have one every year, it is a way for an outsider to take a good look and tell them which areas they need to work on. It also ensures that all policies etc are all up to date and Ofsted ready at all times.

If they have had poor results then they will be high on Ofsted's list, however Ofsted can come at any time.

Smurfing Wed 27-Jan-16 18:52:18

I do know they are expecting an Ofsted anytime after January, but I dont know how quickly Ofsted will actually inspect once it is due to.

We moved here from out of area a couple of years ago and my expectation based on my old LA area was the school would be forced to improve as it was so bad (I used to work in an LEA where this would have happened at least in the short term).

Thanks for the reassurance Cat that schools can and really do turn themselves around. The Academy group as a whole has a good reputation (and results) but they have recently expanded significantly and taken on at least two "failing" schools and its not been long enough to see concrete results.

bojorojo Wed 27-Jan-16 22:41:37

Where I am a Governor, at a LA school, all the schools signed up to the Lesrning Trust had mock inspections one year ago. They were not all expecting the real thing, but it gives valuable feedback on whether the school is going in the right direction, what it needs to improve and the basis for the Head's performance management discussions. It also lets Governors/SLT know if the school matches up to their opinions. It is also useful for checking teaching and the accuracy of assessment. Therefore an inspection may not be imminent.

Regarding progress, the progress you quote is the basic progress expected. In the OPs school, there is an obvious lack of bright children. Not a single one at Level 5. The Level 3 children have probably been more difficult to teach and progress can be slower than one would wish. We find better progress with our brighter children. It looks like all the bright ones went to other schools and the ones who couldn't move, had to stay. I would be very interested to look at the progress of other year groups and to know if any are on target for Level 5. Not that the school has to tell you that! If your children are bright, will they, realistically, have plenty of bright children to work with? A school that lacks brighter children may not inspire your child to do well. I would not be keen to send a bright school into this scenario. I would also check to se if the curriculum is inspiring and what sport is like, given the lowish numbers.

Yes, schools are expected to improve, but they do not all do it at the same rate. Not all children make the same rate of progress. It is positive the teaching is now considered good but I would want a lot more detail about progress of all the year groups and what the school's Development Plan looks like. What do they think needs to improve and how are they going to do it?

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Wed 27-Jan-16 22:42:59

An obvious lack of bright children or an obvious lack of good teaching?

steppemum Thu 28-Jan-16 11:29:38

smurfing - our school is part of a multi school academy. When they turned our school round the academy was in its infancy, now it is bigger and more organised. It regularly takes on new schools and turns them round. It likes taking on failing schools, because they know that putting into place their systems can have a good effect in a short time. In other words what they are doing works.

So if the academy as a whole is good, I would expect that your school would see a turn around fairly quickly.

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