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Is an A Grade Gcse from a State School a better than an A* from a private School

(128 Posts)
soul2000 Sat 31-Aug-13 10:58:18

In the wake of the reported fact that 32% of pupils from Independent Schools achieved at least 1 A* at Gcse and only 8% from State Schools and now doubt, a large amount of the A* Grade"s from State schools were from Grammar Schools. If someone from a bog standard Comprehensive achieved 2As at Gcse, is that a better achievement than 4A* from a highly selective Independent School

I know these types of discussions are bound to come back to Grammar schools rights/wrongs, or about family finances or parents previous Educational background. I just want to see if people agree that an A from a normal Comprehensive requires a far greater effort than an A* from an a highly selective Independent School.

BeenFluffy Sat 31-Aug-13 11:08:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HmmAnOxfordComma Sat 31-Aug-13 11:11:27

From a really troubled comp where they have huge difficulties in attracting decent staff, massive behaviour problems even in top sets, scarcely proper top sets because all the brightest or better behaved children are elsewhere, poor facilities, etc etc: yes.

From a leafy comp in the suburbs where they have hundreds of applications for each teaching post, huge levels of parental engagement, exactly the same type of kids as in your private or grammar school: absolutely not.

From a 'bog standard' comp with a range of abilities, backgrounds and a mix of some good and some not so great staff: still probably not.

Do all three of these types of school exist? Yes, and everything in between too.

PickleFish Sat 31-Aug-13 11:48:51

the selectiveness will confuse things - what makes those schools selective is in part that those children would have got an A* anywhere. So it's not just the fact that they are at a particular school, but the fact that they made it through a selection process.

so you'd have to compare a child who would have been able to go to a selective school, but who is at a normal comprehensive, with those who are at the selective school, if you want to see if an A at the comprehensive requires more effort than the A* at the selective.

titchy Sat 31-Aug-13 12:03:36

Can you link to that report OP? Is it really true that 68% of privately educated kids don't even manage 1 A* GCSE? If that is the case why aren't the parents clammering to get their fees back - that's an appalling statistic!

NoComet Sat 31-Aug-13 12:34:18

Yes, there is good teaching and well targetted exam technique practice at all schools.

Reasonable state schools get a reasonable number of A and A*.

There are however, 3 huge differences that make more A* likely at private school.

1) *Staff recruitment/retention, a leafy private school is an appealing place to work and you get fee reductions for your own DCs. Round here the private schools are in nice towns to live in or near.

2) Parents are going to be supportive of school and HW and well educated themselves. This tends to apply to state school top sets too, but certain subjects, especially MFL and perhaps Englit., have an easier time if parents went to private/grammar school and can help their DCs.

3) Private school teachers have way more time and energy for pushing the brightest the less time they spend on pastrol care/behaviour management and shoving DCs over the C-D boundry.

Also some private school DCs are tutored, or have other help. DF sent her DS to a French family for a week, to practice his French. I don't know any state school parents who do that sort of thing.

* In reality private schools can be horrible, advantage taking, unpleasent employers, I know two private school teachers who got really pissed off with the home work balance caused by all the sport etc. DFs childless female dept. head was vile, after she had her DS she moved to a state school and is a totally different and much nicer relaxed person

soul2000 Sat 31-Aug-13 12:40:19

Titchy. The report about the statistic of 32% of private School pupils achieveing at least 1A* is on the BBC News website, under Education and Family. The report states that within the 32% who achieved that the average achievement was 2 A* at Gcse, it also states that only 8% of State Educated pupils achieved 1 A* but went on to say that the most well known Independent Schools, like North London Collegiate scored 97.94% at A or A*. This report shows that even highly sought after super selective Grammar Schools can not even get close to those statistics.

BobbyGentry Sat 31-Aug-13 13:17:33

" I just want to see if people agree that an A from a normal Comprehensive requires a far greater effort than an A* from an a highly selective Independent School."

I can not agree with the above statement. Firstly, if the purpose of the exams is to gain a place further education then no distinguishes will be made, the A* will out.

I presume you assert the argument because you feel the student in a Comprehensive has experienced a longer and more challenging educational career? If so, I'd like to point out that sadly many kids suffer, negligence, lack of carers, isolation etc no matter what background.

One of benefits, in my opinion, would be the attitude of 'if you get knocked down, pick yourself up & get on.' Kids work hard to get great results ( A & A*) , irrespective of background, so I wouldn't wish to diminish their hard work.

Crumbledwalnuts Sat 31-Aug-13 13:22:58

In terms of effort, maybe. In terms of exam passing ability, no, the A* is better. In terms of actual education, hard to say.

leosdad Sat 31-Aug-13 14:10:19

Maybe things will change with the terminal exams and no more coursework, "controlled" assessments and endless resits giving less chance for independent schools to ensure their students get that high grade. Throw in after school tutoring and the A* is yours!

I feel that getting an A* in a comprehensive school is a much greater achievement than in a selective/independent school.

Many of the classes in comprehensive schools will have children who go on to get A*, C or F being taught together - a much more difficult job for the teacher who will not have time to concentrate on the "harder" topics required to get that A*/A.

FoundAChopinLizt Sat 31-Aug-13 14:15:18

The selective schools select more able pupils. Comprehensives don't. The end results reflect this.

titchy Sat 31-Aug-13 14:17:18

I think most comprehensives teach in sets actually leosdad so likely that top set at being taught A* to A topics, set 2 B to C etc so not sure that argument holds, except for schools with a large cohort of under achievers where top set may comprise 25 B/C kids, and one kid capable of more - but this would be rare - most comps have enough in their top sets though.

leosdad Sat 31-Aug-13 14:23:22

not the ones around here (DH is a teacher) and DD's school only sets for maths and has done so for many years.

ontheallotment Sat 31-Aug-13 18:04:59

I read the bbc report as saying 32% of GCSE entries from independent schools were graded A*, which is rather different from saying 32% pupils gain a single A* or more. It also squares better with the average result from a private school being 2A* and 7As.

It's virtually impossible to say if an A from a 'normal' (whatever that is) comprehensive is better worse or the same as an A* from an independent - there are too many variables.

HmmAnOxfordComma Sat 31-Aug-13 18:43:34

Yep, the report is 32% of all entries sat from private schools achieved an A*.

That tallies with ds's (independent) school which is non-selective (academically) with a genuine range of ability which this year achieved 48% A and A*.

I don't know what percentage of private schools are academically selective and what are not (though I know the meaning of 'selective' can mean any one of a number of things, from a vague test of suitability to highly selective, so it's probably not a useful statistic).

WorrySighWorrySigh Sat 31-Aug-13 18:54:17

I have DCs at at school in the BBC bottom 20 (oh the pride, oh the honour!) and DD has now moved on to a 'good' mid range comp for 6th form. What we see is this:

- staff at the poor school have lower expectations of students than at the good school. At the poor school the students are left very much to sink or swim.

- good staff at the poor school tend to be junior and are fighting against a tidal wave of indifference from more senior (time served) staff and managers

- staff turnover at the poor school is ridiculous. There is no consistency. Substitute teachers may not be subject appropriate. There is no handover as staff move on at very short notice. For some students this meant a loss of examinable coursework. Staff at the good school have a far lower level of turnover and the the turnover is managed.

- facilities at the good school are far and away better than at the poor school.

Unless you have experienced it, it is very difficult to explain just how unutterably crap a poor school is.

DD left this school with 3A*s and the rest As. She would have done better at a better school I am sure. Are the grades 'worth' more? I dont think so as you cant do better than an A*.

The tragedy is that the student from the poor school is more likely to struggle at the next stage (we are seeing this with DD). There is far less preparation for the next stage from the poor school than from the good school.

lotsofdirections Sat 31-Aug-13 21:21:17

Well I teach at a 'good' secondary in the 6th poorest council ward in the country, in my top set out of 4 100% got A or A* in either ENG LANG or LIT. Nobody got below B in either. There were 36 children in the group. My friend works at the local (girls) indie, her group achieved similar results. There were 17 in the class. Out of my class 19 got double A*. I think they are far less likely to struggle at the next stage, they already learn independently. Clever hard working children will achieve.

JammieMummy Sat 31-Aug-13 21:30:08

My reading of the piece is the same as oxfordcomma's and ontheallotment's which essentially means 1 in 3 GCSE's from independent schools are given an A* grade.

But I would also strongly agree with worrysigh I went to a not particularly good comp, looking back now the issues were mainly with the low expectations of staff, massive staff turn over and old "established" teachers having all the pull. If you had a good teacher, which made a lesson enjoyable, they were often gone within a year. I was a student expected and able to achieve straight A's at GCSE which I got pretty close to but with no little help from the school however, A levels were a whole different ball game, there were huge gaps in my basic knowledge and I had no proper study/revision skills and I totally bombed (much to mine and the schools surprise).

Is an A from comp worth the same as A* from independant at GCSE - honestly, I don't think so as a dedicated student can do it with very little help, but IMO there is a huge difference at A level where I believe universities make allowances.

Coconutty Sat 31-Aug-13 22:02:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

horsemadmom Sat 31-Aug-13 22:47:35

Gotta correct you on this point, Leosdad. I don't think indies allow resits or January exams. My childrens' certainly don't. They don't do them a year early and then resit which is the fudge that state schools have been using and which will be abolished with the end of coursework. They don't do any modular exams at all. Sadly, with the formulaic, tick-box nature of GCSEs, the teaching of exam technique is very important and an indie with small and well disciplined classes may have the advantage. Add to this mix, indies prefer the IGCSE which seems to have more reliable marking and a more stimulating content (IMHO) and you have another edge.

WorrySighWorrySigh Sun 01-Sep-13 07:58:55

I think that the apparent endless resitting depended very much on the school.

My DC's school sat only maths early. There was some intent to get the A grade students to resit to achieve A* but this came to nothing. Some students did resit but only with the intent of moving fail grades up to pass grades.

Again this was an example of monumental incompetence by the school management. An inadequate teacher was allowed to remain in post despite numerous complaints (including from me). This teacher was tasked with getting the students who had failed maths up to a pass grade. She had a huge breakdown in class and was removed. None of the resit students passed.

JammieMummy, I feel your pain at the lack of preparedness for A levels. Were you able to recover from the this or did your life take a different course?

cricketballs Sun 01-Sep-13 08:16:40

Just to correct the notion that state school sets,my current school only sets in KS4 in English, Maths & science; the rest of us have large classes with targets ranging from A* - F. Every school I have worked in does the same

JammieMummy Sun 01-Sep-13 09:31:49

Thank you worrysigh I picked myself up dusted myself off and via a slight detour got myself to where I wanted to be, (I am in a relatively elite profession, which gets undeserved bad press as only being for those from indie schools and the "old boys network"). However I was absolutely determined to get there and was asked about my poor non exsistant A Levels constantly.

We are very fortunate in that we are able to send DD and DS to indie schools and that is exactly what we are doing (having looked at all local schools and decided they were the best for individual personalities of the children). People on can say what they like about children's achievements being "down to parental input" etc but if the school doesn't teach the material then what can you do! Small cavet our main consideration in choosing a school was not final results, but of course it played a part.

lotsofdirections Sun 01-Sep-13 11:41:40

Lots of state schools are moving to IGCSE's because they are a lot simpler and easier. GCSE English Lit is far more challenging than the IGCSE equivalent. They used to be the province of the indies because they didn't count for league tables but now they do they seem to be the resort of schools who are desperate. I would imagine the indies will soon be running back to GCSE's. We are considering IGCSE English for our C/D borderline because it is simple and straightforward.

Funnily enough I noticed in the local paper's report on A Level results that the local indie did not get one pupil into medicine but spoke about them being wait-listed, the local Special Measures Academy got 4, including one boy who had offers from 4 unis. He got all A* at A Level.

I don't think indies are full of amazing teachers who are too good for the state sector but it is much easier to get good results with smaller classes which are all of a similar literacy/numeracy level.

horse you are naive if you think indies don't allow resits, they are just done 'quietly', as an examiner for the past 20 years I can assure you of that!

Lfs2126 Sun 01-Sep-13 12:04:16

I thought that schools were moving away from the 'monitored' gcse as they were too open to outside interference. The igcse method is simpler as it relies solely on an end of course exam and is therefore a truer measure of a students knowledge?

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