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Choosing school - ideal % of grades A* and A at GCSE?

(80 Posts)
Cortina Sat 03-Oct-09 07:27:12

Just musing and looking at possible schools going forward.

What % of grades A* and A would you look for ideally at GCSE?

I know that there are many other ways of judging schools and that statistics can be skewed, plus it also depends on subjects taken & numbers of pupils taking exams. But if you were just looking at this first in isolation as an academic yardstick.

They are 60% at A*/A, 87.8% A*/A, 51% A*/A.

Two are selective schools, the school with 51% A*/A is non selective.

Interested what % would ring alarm bells/worry you possibly?

It seems to me if you love the school and it fits the bill for your child you'd want to put your child in the school that had the best academic track record?

It's a few years yet for us - secondary school - but I am surprised by how much the numbers/pass rates etc vary.


Bionda Sat 03-Oct-09 14:16:32

First of all you should remember that the % only reflects exam results and nothing else about the school. For this reason the Value Added Score (available on the BBC school's website) is a good guide - it tells you how the school caters for everyone.Selective schools will naturally always have higher results since they select their intake on an academic basis, just like a, say, football school would score highly on matches one. When an inner city state school has very high scores research shows that this is a strong indicator of how many of the kids are tutored privately outside of school so that's another reason %s aren't a good indicator of what the school is providing. Proximity to your home and all the benefits that adds - nearby friends, local safety etc. should heavily inform your choice too, I think. We've sent our kids to local schools neither of which are the highgest scoring in the area, albeit good, and they're doing very well and are bright and engaged with learning.

Quattrocento Sat 03-Oct-09 14:27:39

When I was looking for schools I did take this into account because it was a relevant factor

My basic level was 100% A-C and somewhere 75%+ for A and A*.

And yes these numbers are hugely variable between schools. The average state comp gets around 40-45% A-C. Pretty unimpressive.

defineme Sat 03-Oct-09 14:30:38

No it's not unimpressive quattro - do you think everyone is capable of academic exam sucess and those that aren't are worthless?
What do you think comprehensive means?

Quattrocento Sat 03-Oct-09 14:36:24

I said nothing whatsoever about the people attending the schools. I do think that a school that achieves around 40% a-c at gcse is unimpressive. If it is a criticism, it is a criticism of the schools. Set their sights too low IMO. Just been looking at a maths gcse paper and anyone getting less than an A* must be close to having special needs. Or very badly taught.

<throws down gauntlet>

Snorter Sat 03-Oct-09 14:43:49

Well said defineme.

magentadreamer Sat 03-Oct-09 14:45:10

As far as I'm aware I don't think my DD is special needs but I think it'll be a cold day in hell before she gets an A* in Maths. Your comment is pretty insulting to the average DC and to DC's who do indeed have SEN. I thank my lucky stars my Dd doesn't mix with people who would belittle the fact she is capable of an A* in Maths and anything other grade would make her special needs.

magentadreamer Sat 03-Oct-09 14:46:45

that should have read NOT capable

Paolosgirl Sat 03-Oct-09 15:07:49

<Moves the gauntlet aside with her foot in a disinterested manner>

A good school cannot be judged by pass rates alone - there are so many other factors to be taken into account, such as pastoral care, number of children receiving free school meals v results, number of children using private tutors, discipline, school management, extra-curricular activities, and so on and on. Only someone with a very narrow view of education would look solely at the pass rates.

Your comment about special needs is low even for you, Quattro.

Quattrocento Sat 03-Oct-09 15:11:35

What nonsense. Set your sights low if you want to.

Most children would be capable of getting an A* on the paper I've seen, unless they did have special needs. If properly taught. There was nothing remotely offensive to special needs children in that comment. There was quite a lot that was potentially offensive to the management of schools etc. But not to special needs children. By all means take offense if it makes you happy.

Paolosgirl Sat 03-Oct-09 15:25:36

You really are quite something, aren't you.

If you are holding yourself up as an advertisement for private education, then thank God the majority of the population chose comprehensive.

I advise you to reconsider you comments about how only children with special needs would be unable to get an A* in maths. It really is offensive - not to mention ridiculous in the extreme.

cory Sat 03-Oct-09 15:37:05

100% seems quite a high target: then you are
banking not only on none of the children having special needs, but also none of them having a bad time at home, being unwell, having suffered bereavement just before the exam day or simply being quite unintelligent without having special needs. I have absolutely no objection to my children attending school with any of the above.

My dh won a scholarship to a selective school with high expectations and was very well taught- he failed his A-levels for various reasons and then went on to get a 2:1 at university (at a time when a 2:1 was still something of an achievement). I don't see that his exam results say anything about his school or about the quality of his teaching: they say something about where he was, as an individual, at that time.

I am not setting my sights low for my own dd- but I am also glad that she is at school with some friends who are having difficulties and who may well not get top results- it is helping her to develop into a more rounded and understanding person.

cory Sat 03-Oct-09 15:52:56

One of the brightest and most hardworking students I ever taught had to repeat her final year twice due to health problems. Doesn't make us a bad university: makes us a bloody good one imo, being able to support someone at a difficult time until they are able to reach their potential. That is what I want to see from my dcs' schools. That and the awareness that potential is going to mean something different from each individual child.

sarah293 Sat 03-Oct-09 16:55:34

Message withdrawn

cory Sat 03-Oct-09 17:09:53

I should have added that to my post as well, Riven. While I naturally do not think that children with SN should be forced to attend mainstream if it is not in their interests just to educate the rest, yet I am very glad that my dcs attend a school where there are children of mixed abilities, including some with various degrees of SN. It gives a much better idea of what society is like and it is very liberating to find that you can be just as good friends with people with different abilities- it makes the whole world a less scary place. And I would hate my children to grow up so narrow that they can only cope with people who are exactly like themselves.

scrappydappydoo Sat 03-Oct-09 17:10:14

Quattro - can I ask how you would react if your child did not receive an A*???
I came from quite an academic family (both my brothers got all A's at GCSE and A-level). I am not an academic - rubbish at exams but I shine when it comes to creative problem solving and practical coursework. It has taken me years to realise that I am just as intelligent as my brothers and am not worthless simply because i did not get A's at gcse and a-level. There is more to an education than grades.

cory Sat 03-Oct-09 17:10:24

To me, that would be the definition of setting your sights too low.

sarah293 Sat 03-Oct-09 17:13:05

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sarah293 Sat 03-Oct-09 17:14:21

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Quattrocento Sat 03-Oct-09 17:30:41

I apologise Riven, I meant learning impairments.

How would I react? Well in truth I'd be a more than a bit disappointed really. Because it'd mean they hadn't worked (even a little bit).

Paolosgirl Sat 03-Oct-09 17:34:43

Be also aware of future grandchildren, Quattro, and their abilities, or lack of therein. Such sweeping (and nonsensical) comments tend to have a habit of returning to bite you on the backside.

sarah293 Sat 03-Oct-09 17:43:11

Message withdrawn

mollyroger Sat 03-Oct-09 17:59:12

I'm not too fond of the implication that ''learning impairments'' = thick either...
Dyslexics, for example, are not neccessarily thick wink

sarah293 Sat 03-Oct-09 18:07:06

Message withdrawn

onemoretimetoday Sat 03-Oct-09 18:12:29

I'd be looking for at least 80% A-C for a comprehensive which takes into account those children who for whatever reason are unable to get these grades. The feeder comprehensive from our primary had 86% A-B for A'levels this year, truly remarkable for a non selective state school.

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