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"Good" state secondary when looking at league tables?

(36 Posts)
RichTeas Wed 24-Oct-12 14:20:17

I know this is a "how long is a piece of string" question and that it's essential to speak to school heads, etc, BUT the league tables do provide a standardised measure across schools. Where do you draw the line between a "good" state school and not so good? My sense is that looking at GCSE(Eng,Mat) around 70% or above constitutes good? Or is it lower than that?

Lancelottie Wed 24-Oct-12 14:29:16

Well, our local 'outstanding' school usually scores around 67 to 73% A to C with Eng and Maths, and around 98% will get 5 GCSEs down to G grade. That is, out of about 150 kids each year, about 100 will get 5 good GCSEs; about 8 to 12 of those each year will get all A or A*; and 2 or 3 won't get anything on paper.

The not so near Outstanding school usually gets about 80% through 5 A* to C; it's bigger, so its statistics aren't swung as much by each child.

The 'Good' school gets around 66%. Interestingly, it tends to get more A* than either of the others, but also more D to G grades. i suspect it depends on the intake.

Are you talking fully comp?

Lancelottie Wed 24-Oct-12 14:30:15

Oh, and I think we're going to send DC off to the 'Good' school -- because we like it.

lljkk Wed 24-Oct-12 14:36:10

Not a single state school we're looking at has GCSE stats above 70%, and they never have done, either.
I think schools are more than numbers.

Lancelottie Wed 24-Oct-12 14:38:24

Should maybe clarify that 'not so near outstanding' means it's outstanding, but too far away, not that it's not-Outstanding (confuses self)

RichTeas Wed 24-Oct-12 14:51:12

Is there a difference between "fully comp" and "comp"?

TimeChild Wed 24-Oct-12 16:25:36

My dd's comprehensive (our local community one) is rated outstanding and got 100% A*-C and 78% including English and maths.

Not only are the figures good but we like the school smile (although it is not perfect)

Fully comp I think means a comprehensive in an area where there are no grammars to cream off the most academic. Having said that quite a few dc's around here go private.

AChickenCalledKorma Wed 24-Oct-12 16:34:09

The trouble is, even the league tables don't provide a truly standardised comparison.

For example, a school can bump up its apparent success by (for example) entering students for less challenging GCSEs, limiting certain students to Foundation courses only (so they can get a C, but no higher than that), making extensive use of GCSE equivalents etc etc etc.

There is more information on the league tables than there used to be, but you still have to be something of a mind-reader.

And that's without allowing for any issues like the socio-economic make-up of the intake.

AChickenCalledKorma Wed 24-Oct-12 16:42:03

Regarding whether a school can be described as fully comprehensive, the question is whether they exercise any form of selection. For example, a church school might have religious criteria, but still describe itself as comprehensive because children of all ability are catered for. However, the religious entry criteria will tend to attract families who are motivated enough to jump through hoops in order to get their children in ... and therefore families who are more likely to be supportive of the school etc etc.

Lancelottie Wed 24-Oct-12 17:40:12

Yes, I did mean 'Are you in an area that creams off the top 10% before you start comparing?', though like Timechild we are in an area where lots go private (annoying the primaries, actually, as their better-off kids often jump ship at age 9 and thus vanish between one set of SATs and the next).

RichTeas Wed 24-Oct-12 18:48:53

Interesting distinction Lancelottie (the 10% creaming areas). Hadn't considered that, and it would impact the resulting statistics. ChickenKorma's point on religious selection equally interesting. Will bear in mind.

muminlondon Wed 24-Oct-12 19:27:24

The national averages for 2012 including all types of state school are about 59% for 5 A-C inc Eng and Maths and 18% Ebacc. Highest regional averages are in London (about 61% and 21%).

So anything above that would be good, really, and you can make allowances for intake (included in the league tables - average 'high attainers' is about 33% = primary pupils getting Level 5 in both Eng & Maths). So a cohort with less than 33% high attainers getting 60% on the GCSEs measure or above average Ebacc is doing well. Mind you, a low measure of high attainers might be masked by the number of highly achieving maths/science geniuses for whom English was a second language, so intake statistics have their flaws.

Lancelottie Wed 24-Oct-12 19:59:22

Yes; and our son's school had some who did well in English but missed the C in maths, and vice versa.

The school is not going to send your child away with 70% of his GCSEs just because that's their average score. S/He could get all A*, or fail the lot. Our prospective school gets around 3540% of all passes at A or A*, which suggests to me that the teaching is there for the child who is able to benefit from it.

Lancelottie Wed 24-Oct-12 19:59:49

3540% would indeed be impressive. 35 to 40% was what I thought I'd typed.

roisin Wed 24-Oct-12 20:05:50

It depends so much on your area. Where we live there isn't a state school within a 20 mile radius (at least) that has got over 65% in the last 10 years!

muminlondon Wed 24-Oct-12 20:28:22

I would consider 65% good for a comp anywhere.

I think about 24% of all GCSE entries were A/A* this year. As Lancelottie says, they're not evenly distributed - most may go to the bright children taking lots of single science subjects and generally more exams than anyone else, or an extra foreign language GCSE for a language spoken at home, etc.

Blu Wed 24-Oct-12 21:16:48

I don't think you can know how 'good' a school is from it's exam stats. You have no idea whether those stats represent mediocre resutls ofrm an extremely high ability cohort, or a great result from an, on average, low ability cohort.

Neither do exam stats tell you how well a school will educate a high ability child, a medium ability child etc.

I would look on the more detailed info and stats for each school on the Dept of Ed website. Does each ability group make expected progress? How many A* results? How well is the school performiong against the demographic profile of the iintake, etc etc.

brandnewnickname Thu 25-Oct-12 23:35:05

I have had a quick look at the stats for my son's school which is one of the consistently highly oversubscribed comps in our city. Its statistic for 5 GCSEs A*-C including English and maths was 75% in 2011, but in the sixties for the three years prior to that (60% in 2009). Don't know whether that level of fluctuation is normal. We are in an area of genuine comps in the sense of no state grammars in our local authority's area and few going private (-as far as I know, no pupil in my son's year at primary went on to a private school).

Kez100 Fri 26-Oct-12 06:03:35

A comp may have a skewed cohort depending if higher ability local children go to Grammers. Take a look at the exam statistics breakdown for the school between low middle and high ability and then think which section your child falls in.

seeker Fri 26-Oct-12 06:23:02

The crucial thing is to look at the progress made by low, middle and high attainers. And in my opinion, the crucial one is the low attainers. It's easy for a school to make good progress with the high attainers- what it does with the lower sets says more about the school than anything else.

Rache101 Sat 27-Oct-12 23:51:55

It matters on the area. Our local area has a mixed, comp state school with 90% A*-C with 40% A & A*. The worst in the area has 70%. However in our neighbouring area the best state school is 68% A*-C.... it can be a real mix

muminlondon Sun 28-Oct-12 12:32:35

I've just had a look at the 2011 league tables and filtered out independents, faith and selectives. I think there are still some partially selectives in the top 100 and intake for those schools is definitely higher attaining and least deprived. Two schools stand out - Mossbourne and Bethnal Green Technology college. In fact, from 2012 provisional stats  there are some amazing results for Lambeth, Hackney and Tower Hamlets even before you adjust for intake. And they are not all faith schools or academies either.

TalkinPeace2 Sun 28-Oct-12 12:51:32

Have a look at this page
Knowing quite a few of the state comps on that list, anything above 62% getting 5GCSEs is cool
My DCs school got nearly 80%
NB Hampshire has NO selective state schools

if you look at the states for the areas of each school, you can see what you could expect in your area

teacherwith2kids Sun 28-Oct-12 13:34:58

It depends SO much on the individual school.

Our local secondary - technically a secondary modern, because I live in a county which still has superselective grammar schools - gets over 80% 5 A* to C almost every year, and broke 90% this year.

HOWEVER, it is a relatively small school in a VERY affluent catchment, with a very small percentage of pupils on FSM or with SEN. The above results prpobably represent not much more than 'expected' results given their intake.

On the other hand, another school I know of, in one of the most deprived areas of the country, with an exceptionally high percentage of children on FSM and a very, very strong policy of inclusion (including taking lots of children that other schools have given up on, including re-admitting children who have spent years in PRUs) obtained just under 40% on this measure - and in terms of what the school itself contributed to each pupil's progress, it is a much 'better' school than my local one....

Headline statistics are a very blunt instrument...

TalkinPeace2 Sun 28-Oct-12 13:42:42

That is why I would always suggest clicking onto the Dfe data page and looking at VA, ESL, FSM, top middle bottom, spend per pupil

and MOST importantly of all, stand outside the school gate at kicking out time and see if the 'vibe' feels right
(bearing in mind that 1500 teenagers will always be intimidating but they can be 'happy' intimidating or just unpleasant)

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