Thursday, January 10, 2008

The League Tables

The BBC revealed today that if, like Brighton College, you find the present 'A' levels too easy and you opt for the International Baccalaureate (IB) instead, then no credit will be given in the latest school league tables and you'll show-up as a failing school, even though the IB is a much tougher exam. The Department of Education doesn't dare let itself be drawn into any comparison I suspect and so ignores it instead!

The secondary school league tables are out today and here's the link to Kent's results..

Pulling a few of the percentage results out - Grammar schools are 'SEL' - for pupils achieving five or more GCSE's including maths and english, we see that:

Chatham House Grammar School for Boys (SEL) 96%
Clarendon House Grammar School (SEL) 96%
Dane Court Grammar School (SEL) 96%

Ursuline College 48%
Ellington School for Girls 30%
The Charles Dickens School 29%
The Hereson School 20%
St George's Church of England Foundation School 18%
Hartsdown Technology College 16%
King Ethelbert School 11%
The Marlowe Academy 7%

You also need to take account of the "Contextual Added Value", explained here, being used by Ofsted inspectors. The way CVA is calculated is highly complex. It involves adjusting pupils' test results by taking account of such things as gender, ethnicity and poverty. It has also been accused of disadvantaging schools with previously high performance and The general secretary of the Association of School and College leaders, John Dunford, told BBC News it was the latest example of the way ministers "thrash around from year to year" as they were "desperately trying to find a way to make the tables more acceptable.


Anonymous said...

Here we go again how long is going to be these exams are getting easier comments start.

Why cant we just for once think that.

1:Teaching is getting better

2:Or even the fact that children are just getting better at learning.

As a parent of two children who do well in exams and see how hard they revise it really annoys me that children dont get the credit were credit is due

Secondly the mile must be getting shorter as adults are running it much quicker every year.....

DrMoores said...

I don't think you have been watching or reading the same news reports as me today somehow which concern some 25% of children failing to meet the minimum stndards.

"Underperforming schools fail 500,000

One in five secondary schools is missing the Government's key target on GCSEs."

The Thanet league tables are revealing in their own right.

Anonymous said...

No but 75% of children are reaching targets

DrMoores said...

But 25% of children after £billions upon £billions of education spend over ten years still can't read or write properly or add up a column of figures.

What does it take I wonder to achieve basic standard to the same level, as say Sweden or Finland?

Anonymous said...

These children who are taking the exams now were born under a tory govenment in schools which were falling apart sharing books one book between 2 and years of under investment.

Yes I agree that schools should be doing better with the amount of money being invested but wonder if that amount of money would still be matched if you get back into power?

DrMoores said...

Teachers, would, I hope, be left to teach but much of the real damage was done by the BBC liberalism - Grange Hill etc - that was done to teaching and the constant imposition of standards, targets and moving goal posts.

Ten years of the destruction of the nuclear family hasn't helped much either. We now have a sizeable and illiterate underclass, reminscent of Dickensian times - like it or not -who regardless of investment and effort don't give a damn about education.

chris wells said...

To deal with the variety of issues trailed above.

Exams are always getting easier, when you look back a number of years to your own experience, and you have passed them! I can assure you to the young people of today the exams feel as difficult as they ever did for us. If they are not, it is our (adult society) fault, and we cannot and must not undermine our young peoples achievements with such loose talk at mopments like this.

Over Kent as a whole, students achieved the best ever GCSE results. In 2007 65% of students achieved five A* - C passes, a rise of 3.6% over 2006, and ahead of the national rise of 2.8%.

Student performance at age 16 has improved year on year since 1995, and has exceeded the national improvements for the last 10 years. The 2007 figure exceeds the tough target agreed with DCSF in 2005.

It remains clear that at keyb stage 3 and 4 Kent pupils fare very well and the longer you stay in education in Kent the more likely you are to achieve well.

This is a good news story for the county as a whole, and whilst there may be some areas that do not do as well, including Thanet, they too are making improvements and moving forward.

Let us not allow an established and comfortable prejudice get in the way of the fact - Kent students have lots of results to be very proud of and we should acknowledge that in our comments.

DrMoores said...

If you remove the selective schools and the top secondary from the local tables then the other six remaining schools average just over 16%, which suggests to me, at least, that we still have a long way to go and with it illustrates the continued social/deprivation problems in well-defined pockets of the island that remain highly resistant to change and educational progress.

Michael Child said...

Last time there was a debate on Thanet Life about schools it appeared to me to lack some important input, namely that of Steve Ladyman and Allan Pool, so I wrote to them and asked them what they thought. Here are their replies, sorry you have to paste the link, I am yet to receive any IT education

Michael Child said...

Simon I noticed you missed Ellington School for Girls 30% which seems to be the best non grammar result so you may wish to revise your 16% figure. I was thinking it’s strange that between them our local politicians would like to take 3 of our best schools out of the town of Ramsgate remove their single sex status, probably the grammar school status from the 2 grammars.

I also noticed that the headmaster if Chatham House tendered his resignation last week and wonder if this is related to the building plans.

I would have thought that schools within a town and within walking distance of students homes to be an integral part of a balanced community, I wonder if our politicians could have a bit of a truce on Ramsgate’s schools to allow them a period of stability.

As far as standards go one of my children is doing AS (first year A level) maths, chemistry, biology and physics, both my wife and I studied sciences and can assure any sceptics that the standards are high.

Finally I noticed that Marlowe Academy is being reported by the local BBC news as one of the worst schools, however no mention is being made that their result is a 20% improvement on the previous year.

DrMoores said...

Thanks Michael for pointing out my ommssion of Ellington. This brings the average up to 18.7 if the leading secondary is removed or 222.3% with the Ursuline College included.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Michael for your posting and the link from your website.

We need input from our MP but reading it it doesnt make sense after reading.

both Steve Ladyman and Ed Balls the sec of state for Education both went to Grammer Schools I believe.

So if they are now saying that Grammer schooling should be scrapped for the above ave children in thanet I for One will never vote Labour AGAIN.

Anonymous said...

My son goes to a school in Canterbury where the A Levels have been ditched at least a year ago because the head firmly believes that "A levels are no longer worth the paper they are written on." He says the IB stretches children much more and are widely recognised around the world (hence international) and more highly valued abroad.

There are different levels in the compulsory subjects but a top end pass is worth at least eight A* A levels, more than enough to get most unis if you wish.

Cllr David Green said...

By any measure, these are not good results, to judge the system overall, one can compare the 40.27% of pupils gaining 5 GCSE at A-C in Thanet, with and average of 46.7% nationally, and 48.5% in more affluent parts of Kent. This overall problem is compounded by Kent’s antiquated selection system which condemns 67% of Thanet’s children a school system that only delivers 5 A-C’s to a fifth of the intake.
You would think that the people responsible for this system, and who allowed the old Ramsgate School to fester for years before government action forced the creation of the Marlowe would show a bit of humility? But no, they are now setting about to destroy the option of single sex schooling and with it the ethos of Ellington and Hereson, between them the two most successful Thanet Schools in terms of added value. The Kent Tories today ignored all advice from local Thanet members and supported destruction of both schools and the creation of a mixed school without a sixth form. Luckily, the Government has seen through their plans and is insisting that others have the opportunity of providing a better scheme. There is still hope that a confederation of schools with a sixth form will emerge.
The dumping of the Portal House School in Newington is again against the wishes of Local County and District members, who are concerned about the impact of a school for children with emotional and behavioral needs. The decision is bad for the children who will be bused from all over east Kent to the school. Sometimes this is a 2 hour journey each way. Also ignored were the police and District Council views who were concerned about absconding pupils.

Ken Gregory said...

The system of selection for later education is one that I was brought up with, and on reflection, I feel it is sustainable. The more damaging factor to our children's education is poverty, as pointed out by David. (Poverty that Thanet DC and KCC have been fighting to alleviate for years, shame central goverment is bleeding us dry to pump cash into its northern and Scottish heartlands)
It was KCC who came up with the concept of the Marlowe, although for some considerable spell it was a Lib/Lab pact that ran that Council.
As to 2hours each way on the Bus, well thats been going on for years in west Kent, and I suspect, in rural communities all over the country as well.

Pedagogue said...

I am delighted to see that the distortion of BTECs and GNVQs has been removed from League Tables and that Maths & English must be included in the 5 A -C tables.
For comparison:
2007 2006 2006**

Ursuline 48% 36% 50%
Ellington 30% 30% 38%
Charles Dickens 29% 28% 45%
Hereson School 20% 18% 33%
St George's 18% 20% 48%
Hartsdown 16%
King Ethelbert 11% 15% 43%
Marlowe Academy 7% 5% 28%

(** 5 A-Cs without Eng & Maths)

The sad fact is that Government Targets of 5 A-Cs meant that schools were able to demonstrate improvement by a 'fiddle'! Schools up and down the land embarked on easier BTECs that were 'equivalent' to 4 GCSE passes and thus in many cases pushed the school up the Legue Tables. Nationally, the worst case was 88% 5 A-Cs in 2006 and in 2007 when Eng & Maths were included the figure became 17%. As the table above of our local schools shows, some of our schools embarked on the same BTEC option to 'improve' and have now been caught out!

This illustrates the problem of the diktats from on high being got round by the people on the ground as many Soviet Tractor Factories did in order to meet the 5 tear plans! So what do the tables above show?
1. Why are our Grammars not achieving 100%?

2. Ursuline is a comprehensive not a High School and is clearly a GOOD SCHOOL.

3. If Ellington Girls can produce 30% two years running with an excellent value added figure and its girls come from some of the most deprived estates in Ramsgate, it is a GOOD SCHOOL that is the key and not 'poverty' and all the other socialist clap trap that is trundled out to excuse poor achievement.

4. All our other High Schools are not cutting it. If 30% is the target then these schools need to be sorted out.

5. The Marlowe is clearly a £20 million failure in terms of raising standards and needs to sort its act out quickly or be closed if Labour Education policy is applied correctly. It is a classic case of money and resources being wasted.

6. SMALL single sex schools are better for weaker and disadvantaged children (Ellington illustrates).

Until KCC grasps the nettle and puts most of our High schools into special needs , our local schools will continue to fail the vast majority of our children in Thanet.

Anonymous said...

What a shame that the Ursuline College should be in financial difficulties, yet still manage to achieve good results, when we see the Marlow having money poured into it, with no apparant improvement.

Michael Child said...

I do hope that this isn’t a case of the conservatives trying to destroy the high schools while labour try to destroy the grammar schools, are there any politicians out there who would like to see all our better single sex schools maintain their status and their present locations should they want to.

I should also like to make an important point about selection that is that in practice many of the high schools are in fact selecting those children who are likely to be better students. For example St Georges predominately takes children whose families can prove some sort of attendance at a Christian church and Charles Dickens favours children with formal music grades.

So in practice Marlowe Academy would have to take many children that these schools had turned down.

Anonymous said...

Michael, parents avoided the Conyngham,aka The Ramsgate, as much as possible on the grounds that it was a failing school. Now that it is an Academy, has £20 million improved it? Those parents who were taken in by big spend and new buildings and chose Marlowe over Ellington Girls and Hereson would appear to have made a mistake. 93% of children not achieving the basics in English and Mathematics and 3 other GCSE subjects is dismal. When will Government learn that throwing large amounts of money at a problem will not solve it. Conyngham/Ramsgate/Marlowe should have been closed and children sent to other more successful schools and the £20 million 'shared' around the rest of the non-grammar schools to pay for improvements ,extra teachers etc for those children. Reinforcing failure is poor policy.

Michael Child said...

Anonymous ah if government listened to local people we would have our schools shops leisure facilities in our towns, sad to say that housing estates with all the social problems entailed is what we are heading for in all the Thanet towns. Conyngham was just an example of social engineering gone wrong however to produce a 20% improvement in a year in any school is very good especially when one considers that these children will have started their secondary education in the failing Ramsgate School.

Anonymous said...

What a dismal picture your link shows Dr Moores. 5 of our local schools are in the bottom 190 nationally; Hereson, Marlowe, King Ethelberts, Hartsdown and St Georges.
In the case of the Marlowe, only 4 other schools nationally did worse. The only bright light was Ellington Girls whose Contextual value added (CVA) ranking was 43rd in the country and this is the school KCC want to merge etc! When are we going to realise that small, single sex schools, whilst not being 'cost effective' in the industrial approach to education are in fact very cost effective in terms of doing something for the children in their care. Isn't that the raison d'etre for a school? As 12.06 has pointed out, KCC needs to put our 5 failing schools into 'special measures'and quickly, if this viscious cycle of imposed failure on Thanet children is to be reversed.

Anonymous said...

11.05, the children who took their GCSE's in 2007 had 10 years of full time education under a Labour Govt so cut out the political posturing; the scandal of under performing schools in Thanet is harming the education of too many of our children and is too serious a matter to be a 'political' point scoring issue.

Michael, a 2% increase on 5% is a 40% improvement but equates to 2 perhaps 3 more students doing better this year than their predecessors last year and is not statistically significant or a measure of successful improvement by any means! If Ramsgate School was a failing school, so still is The Marlowe and this is an unpalatable but obvious fact of life. There are clear instances nationally of failing schools being turned round within 2 years by new heads and staff and this has not happened at the Marlowe. We should be asking ourselves, why has it not happened here in Thanet?

Jeremy Jacobs said...

Nice to see that Charles Dickens is about as successful (not) as it was in my day. Now had I moved to London a few years earlier......

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that the DFEE did not include 2005 results for Ramsgate School as it no longer existed and thus prevented a 3 year comparison. If my memory serves me well, that was the year that 'new management' took over and many experienced staff were sent packing as the new team got to grips with the problem.To still be one of the worst schools in the country suggests that not much has changed. How many expensive Blair Academies are still in the ranks of poor performing schools at the national level?