Headmistress Jacqualyn Pain, and pupils

Northwood College

5th February 2010

How To Use School League Tables

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League tables are where many parents start when choosing a school. They offer hard data and reassurance that a school is achieving certain results. But do they tell the full story of a school’s academic achievements?

To get the best out of the league tables parents need to understand a school’s approach to admissions and exams, says Jacqualyn Pain, Head Mistress at independent girls’ school Northwood College.

She suggests parents ask a school the following questions to help them interpret its league table position.

1) How selective is the school? The league table position may be a greater reflection of the selectiveness of the school, than of its ability to bring out the best in each child. Ask the school also about its value added score, which tells how well children have done relative to their predicted grades.

2) Which exams does the school offer? League tables are compiled from standard GCSEs and A Level results. Ironically, if a school offers the more challenging iGCSEs, its league table position may drop.

3) What subjects have the children taken? It is easier to get a high grade in some subjects than others, but all give equal league table points.

4) What is the school’s policy on subject choices? Some schools allow children to take A levels only in subjects, where they are likely to get an A or a B grade.

5) What is the size of the cohort? There will always be some children who don’t achieve their best on exam day. In a smaller school, the impact of one or two results on the league table position will be much higher than in a larger school.

As well as helping parents understand league tables, these questions will reveal a good deal about a school’s ethos and approach to education.

“There is no hard and fast rule about which school will suit which child,” explains Miss Pain. “Different children thrive in different environments, regardless of how bright they are. Sometimes the most able children need the greatest nurturing to help them achieve their full potential,” she adds.

“Parents should have faith in their knowledge of their child when picking a school, and use league tables wisely, as just one measure among many.”
For a longer article about league tables go to:
www.northwoodcollege.co.uk/news.html
To book a tour of Northwood College,
call Muna Ausat on 01923 845072

For a longer article about league tables go to:
www.northwoodcollege.co.uk/news.html
To book a tour of Northwood College,
call Muna Ausat on 01923 845072

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