A small survey if I may. League tables of state secondaries what do YOU look at and what do you think it means(21 Posts)
I am quite interested in how individual parents view the league tables in reference to potential school selection
What do you think the figures show?
What would you like to see?
Do you believe you understand the information and how relevant it will be to your individual child?
I am interested in which university / college their leavers go on to.
A*s-C's in EBacc subjects
Round our way there is a startling difference between the numbers of GCSE passes in Ebacc subjects and the overall number.
% A -C passes at A level as well as Gcse. Have no idea what the points mean.
I like the E-bacc passes at gcse as well. Local top preforming school drops from 64% to 8% pass rate when it is used.
The EBacc hadn't been invented when we were looking at secondaries. I'd look at both the EBacc and 5 good GCSE scores - I wouldn't necessarily think that 100% ebacc was a good thing as it implies league-table slavishness rather than considering individuals needs. I'd click the links on schools I was interested in to look at the data there - there's some quite interesting stuff now. I'd look at A level scores for the schools that do them. But we found that to get the real picture you have to get the full results from each school - how many of each individual grade in each subject to see whether its A*s or Cs and whether they're doing soft or hard options. Then you have to think about the intake and rebase accordingly.
Did I mention my DH enjoys doing stats?
The league tables are a somewhat useful first look at schools but no table can really capture the pros and cons of a school.
I looked at the overall pass rate 5 GCSEs A*-C including maths and english and I also looked at overall pass rate any 5 GCSEs A*-C. I then looked more in depth at schools that had 90% achieving 5 GCSEs and that also had 60% including maths and english.
Although I breifly looked at A level scores I have to admit that I did not really base my school choices on the tables, as the way they are scored makes it impossible to gain any useful information e.g. points for general studies & critical thinking given but not helpful for uni entry.
What percentage of GCSE pupils get A*/A/B/C in Maths + English + Science + Language + Humanity.
What percentage of A-level pupils get AAB or higher in 'facilitating' subjects from the list published by the R.group.
But I also visited the schools and spoke to staff and pupils.
League Tables are useful, first-sift, basic information but they are not everything. The tables are produced from mass information, which is averaged. What I wanted to know was how a school would suit my child, not a theoretical.
I looked at leavers' destinations, value-added and extra-curricular provision. I like the new invention of measuring how schools serve high/medium/low attainers.
From information like the above, I decided which was the best school in town. Shame it was oversubscribed and we weren't in catchment for it!
We looked at GCSE grades and the subjects they were in. Also the value added score to see if that was good and shows they are making a difference.
Plus visiting schools to get a feel for them.
I look at value-added - I like to know how good a school really is, not just how good the intake was.
% achieving 5 A*- C and value added
I would really like to see the post level 3 destinations too
The 5 gcse's including Maths and English A*-C what I would like to know is how do you find out whether the Maths and English were achieved from the Higher paper or the Foundation paper ? How would you find out the percentage A*/A/B passes in other words?
I'd like also to be able to rank them easily if they are really comprehensive vs religious vs partially selective vs totally selective vs single sex etc.
Well we don't really have a choice of secondaries, but I still look at:
% A-C passes
Value Added score
% of high/middle/low attainers. I think this gives an overview of where dc would sit in the school academically.
Then I see that the only state school dc could get into is crap.
league tables tell you what academic standard of pupil the school attracted, it tells you very little that is relevant to your particular child. It isn't currently possible to see how well schools do with children who were at similar SATS levels when they started, the attempts to look at value added aren't terribly helpful. League tables are also distorted by e.g. the inclusion of general studies, a total waste of time for students.
What I look at are the financial times tables, these are marginally more useful as they exclude general studies and try to cover core subjects. They tell me things like the number of subjects pupils study and the percentage of results that are A grade or above.
Looking at school websites can sometimes show if the school gains or loses students in the 6th form. It's only a net figure as most schools will both gain and lose students but still informative. A school that can't hold on to its pupils is worrying. If detailed figures are available it can show if the school has weaknesses in some subjects. There is, for example, considerable variation in how many students choose to study science subjects. I'd like to see all schools publish their A level results by subject and to do a split by gender. I'd also like to see all schools publish how many students achieve 3As or above and the destinations of their school leavers. If schools had to present results for children at a particular SATS level when they arrived it would show what progress those children had made. Websites also allow you to see if a school values a variety of achievements.
There is no substitute for visiting a school and talking to the staff and students. The best people to talk to are parents whose children have left as they are more likely to be honest.
Do you believe SATs are a credible reflection of attainment or do you think they are distorted by "teaching to test"?
Are you aware there's a new consultation paper out on league tables, released same day as climb-down on ebacc announcement so little fanfare
I am not a journo by the way, I work in a school
I think the consultation is a positive step forward btw
I don't see the league tables as useful at all.
Very few families would genuinely have a choice across several secondary schools - what actually happens is that you go to the schools that your child might stand a chance of getting in to, then start judging which of these would suit your child best. I've no interest where they happen to be in a national league table, as it's irrelavent.
Mainly I looked at EBacc rates, because I think this measure is one of the few things that Gove has got right, and also at sixth form results and where sixth formers go afterwards.
In our particular case, we have one local school which has suddenly pulled stellar headline results out of the bag, in a suspiciously short time. I looked in forensic detail at their GCSE stats to try and work out how they did it. (Answer: far fewer GCSE entries than other local schools and NO-ONE got less than a C. I take that to mean they don't let you try unless you're going to get the right result ... and as a result DD1 is going elsewhere, because I don't like an ethos which is so entirely geared around league tables).
I look carefully at the high / medium / low achievers results, both to see how they do with each band and what the split of intake is (this is exactly the information that prosopon was complaining was unavailable).
The "narrowing the gap" information is also interesting. Two local schools were producing diametrically opposed results on these measures - one was producing stellar results for disadvantaged and previously underachieving pupils, whilst the other was letting them stagnate while concentrating on the high flyers. The first school appears objectively far better, but for my high achieving, privileged DD, I preferred school 2.
What this may end up with is grammar schools and secondary moderns by the back door, but at least in this case the secondary modern is genuinely good.
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