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School performance at GCSE: Is this really bad?

(51 Posts)
perplexo Fri 23-Oct-15 13:29:18

I need some advice. Our local school which is the only one DD is likely to get into for yr 7 had a 33% GSCE pass rate for 2015. That is pretty bad, isn't it? I have emailed the headteacher to ask for reassurance but she has not replied to me and it has been a couple of days now. Any of you with experience, can you say what other factors one might take into account in judging this and in thinking through whether the school we provide a decent environment for my DD. It is a good 20% lower than all the other schools in the borough.

TeenAndTween Fri 23-Oct-15 14:09:49

Unless the vast majority of kids are low achievers (entering with level3 or lower) then this looks pretty poor to me. You can find this out on the department of education website.

Autumnsky Fri 23-Oct-15 14:11:01

Unfortunately , it is bad. Our local school used to be like this, and everyone tried hard to avoid this school. However, the headteacher appointed a few years ago has done lots to improve this school, and the results have been gradually pulled up to 58% after a few years hard work. By this point, people start to have confidence to send their children to this school now.

If this is the only school your DD can get in, then there is not much you can do to get her to another school then. I would look at their data to see how many percentage students can get A*-A, find out if they do settings. As one of our local school is in a council estate, the overall decipline in the school is not very good, but they divide their class by accademic ability, so the top students are all in fast pace class, and they do have a few students go to Oxbridge every year despite the GCSE pass rate is not high. I have to say I am impressed by their leadership team. You can feel the school atmosphere is good. They tried hard to encourage students to achieve.

Also, I think you may need to pay more attention once your DD is in the school, mointor her progress, her friendship etc.

WildStallions Fri 23-Oct-15 14:11:57

33% tells you nothing.

You need to go to the DfE league tables and find out what % of low / middle / high achievers pass.

Then compare those figures to other schools.

perplexo Fri 23-Oct-15 14:17:31

what are you looking for there then Wildstallions. Is it better if a high percentage of low achievers pass, or high achievers? What type of thing is that telling you? The school does take a lot of low achievers. It does not do much setting of its students - though at GCSE I think they split off into different subjects and so that is self-selecting by interest, I guess. Would this mean that classroom teaching has to remain fairly basic and unengaging? Autumnsky - your story is interesting - but I wonder what happens to the middle achievers - whether they fall through the cracks.

perplexo Fri 23-Oct-15 14:20:31

Ah I see the low attainers can pull the average right down. Unfortunately the 2015 info is not yet available in detail, only the headline figures, and it is 17% lower than last year. That is why I wished the head would get back to me and give me a little more detail. Don't think she will though.

Pooka Fri 23-Oct-15 14:24:27

If you think your dd is, say, a middle achiever, then from the dofe stats, how do middle achievers do? If the school takes in a lot of low achievers, then that will skew the overall school stats, but the proportion of Middle/high achievers doing well may be more positive.

Just bear in mind that for some kids, an outcome borne of hard work and effective teachers may be below a C, but that they have done well to get to that position. The idea that a good school can get all kids achieving a-c grades is ridiculous because it fails to take account of academic variance.

It is concerning to have a low percentage overall, it's only natural on the face of it to then extrapolate that the school is failing the children, but it may be take the intake hasn't caught up with things the school has put into place to improve situation. I don't know. What is the ofsted like (though usually I don't pay much heed), and how does the school do in their value added stats?

bigTillyMint Fri 23-Oct-15 14:28:39

That is really poor, but if it is 17% lower than last year, I expect they had a very low-attaining cohort for some reason. However, it could mean that the school has lost the plot and hasn't retained the good teachers they had previously. The HT not getting back to you is not a good sign, I'm afraid.

Autumnsky Fri 23-Oct-15 14:36:37

I agree it's impossible to get all kids achieving a-d grades, but I always believe that for a student with average academic ability can get a-c in a good school enviroment.

There is an outstanding state school nearby to us, the school is in a middle class area, they have over 90% a-c. The other good school around our city generally has around 65%. But in the city, our local good schools are 50%-60%. Even the school in council state area has managed 50%( used to be 30-40% under the old leadership).

I would think 33% mean the school management is not strong enough, no matter the intake. But if there are still some students can get A*-A, that would mean the teaching is not bad. The trouble is the school dicipline, like the other post, it would be hard to learn if the class is disruptive. A school with 33% would mean lots of disruptive students.

Electrolux2 Fri 23-Oct-15 14:47:00

It's just a bit higher than my local comprehensive that's been in RI or worse for 3+ years.
When was this schools last ofsted? Not that I think everything they say as gospel but their intervention can 'encourage' a school to pull their socks up so things may improve?
Trying to see a good side to the problem...

ReallyTired Fri 23-Oct-15 14:55:37

33% is truely dire. Maybe you have not got an answer because the head is on exteneded sick leave/ been sacked. I agree you need to look at more detail. 33% might not be so bad if the school is a secondary modern.

honeysucklejasmine Fri 23-Oct-15 14:56:28

It's likely a school that low may soon go in to special measures. This means either but will get a cash injection, or an academy will come in (bringing cash with them). Expect a bit of turmoil this year, but really the only choice the school has is to get better.

BertrandRussell Fri 23-Oct-15 15:03:27

What do the dfes league tables tell you about the 2014 cohort?

When was the last OFSED?

Do you know any parents at the school already?

What does you Ds's form teacher say?

Sorry about all the questions!

BertrandRussell Fri 23-Oct-15 15:06:47

And, sorry, more questions! Are you sure it's the 2015 figures you're looking at? A lot of schools had a drop in their pass rate in 2014 because of changes in the exams that happened during the year- but most of them had got their act together for this year.

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Oct-15 19:22:17

33% is awful, and below the floor target. The school will presumably be Ofsteded shortly, put into a category and targeted for conversion into an academy (if not already). Teachers will leave in droves at this point, and they will struggle to recruit.

Electrolux2 Fri 23-Oct-15 19:52:54

Honeysuckle. Unfortunately not all schools improve even with huge cash injections. Ours hasn't

BertrandRussell Fri 23-Oct-15 21:08:35

"As one of our local school is in a council estate, the overall decipline in the school is not very good, "

grin Oh, I do love mumsnet!

honeysucklejasmine Fri 23-Oct-15 21:14:06

Electrolux sad we managed it, but at high cost in the form of staff burnout, huge turnover and lots of union meetings. Out the other side now, but we never got any money so struggling hugely with needing more staff for the increasing roll, but barely able to afford to pay existing staff. SLT went from 9 to 3. Desperate to prove the results weren't a fluke (as claimed by neighbouring schools) meant last few years have been hell. But now, outcomes for students are great! Every cloud, and all that. Fingers crossed your school gets there with less damage among the way.

perplexo Fri 23-Oct-15 21:26:10

It is definitely the 2015 performance figures. It is a real shame, as the school has rebranded itself 3 years ago, new building, new start. It does not appear to be working. I was suspicious on the open morning as they largely kept us away fro. Students and talked up the building and the hopeful future partnerships. I will probably be give this school anyway. We live next door and it has lots of unfilled places. last Ofsted 2012 and was good, but I think because then and till last year it managed to get below average ability students up to the average.

BertrandRussell Fri 23-Oct-15 21:55:01

This is very puzzling. It was good in 2012 but such poor results 3 years later is very odd. Don't suppose you'd be prepared to name the school? No- of course you wouldn't! I'm so curious though!

BertrandRussell Fri 23-Oct-15 21:56:02

And why did it do a big rebranding if it was good?

The thing that worries me most about your post is that you've not had a reply. If there was a 'good' reason for the poor results the head would have been eager to explain them to you. What are your alternative options?

BertrandRussell Fri 23-Oct-15 22:02:06

Bear in mind it is the end of term and it's only been two days. But yes, the lack of reply is potentially worrying.

Electrolux2 Fri 23-Oct-15 22:03:03

Bertrand. Our crap comp was also good in 2012. It's been shite ever since though
Similar story. New building, rebranding new head ( x3 I think, now) results very similar to this.

BertrandRussell Fri 23-Oct-15 22:04:13

But if it was good then why rebrand?

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