Thursday 22 February 2018

Value Added

League tables are published in national and local newspapers and are often strongly criticised by many educationalists because many schools massage their figures, therefore they are not a true reflection of the learning that takes place in many schools.

Raw league table results do not measure the student progress that a school achieves for its youngsters. Westbourne measures its success on the added value delivered to each individual child, whether a high achiever or a slower learner. Our added value across the board is very good.

We use CATs (cognitive ability tests), Key Stage tests, baseline tests and value added data to assess our students and to measure their academic progress against their raw ability.

A variety of national associations provide us with data and it is therefore officially recognised and moderated.

All pupils sit CATs tests at the start of the academic year in Years 3,5,7 and 9. The feedback we receive enables us to set realistic, yet challenging targets for our pupils. We have an assessment system in which staff review students' progress in terms of meeting their set targets.

Our aim is to "add value" to every pupil in the school. For example, a recent cohort of twenty three pupils who left Senior School made a fantastic improvement on their predicted grades at S9. They amassed a total of 42 improved GCSE grades across the 3 core subjects, Maths, Science and English at the end of S11. Simplistically this means each child improved on their predicted grades in 2 (1.8 to be precise) out of the 3 subjects.

Two years ago, twenty five Westbourne pupils improved by an even bigger margin of 63 grades i.e. 2.5 grades each from the 3 core subjects. This might be translated in the following scenario: If an individual was predicted a C in English, B in Science and B in Maths at the end of year 9; they would have got a B in English, an A in Science and B/A in Maths.

Unfortunately non core subjects are omitted from national statistics hence key stage testing is relatively limited. Now that KS3 testing has been abolished Westbourne is developing its own system of tracking and 'value added' will still be a key objective for all our pupils.

Westbourne does not discriminate against pupils who are not expected to achieve a grade C or above as all our S11 pupils are entered for GCSE examinations in all the subjects they study. This is not common practice in all schools.

We could, if we were selective, create a league topping result by only accepting the highest achievers, but instead Westbourne believes in providing a first-class education for all. Our most able students achieve outstanding results, and equally importantly to us, slower learners are surprising themselves by reaching levels far beyond their expectations.

Small class sizes which average under 16, quality of teaching, a wide diverse curriculum, opportunities to excel and a traditional outlook on mutual respect and discipline are also unfortunately not listed in any of the league tables.

Westbourne School aims to develop the whole person; the imaginative, practical, and physical as well as the academic. Music, art and drama flourish. Team games are encouraged as well as individual sports and indoor games and hobbies. Unfortunately it is difficult to measure added value in these key areas.