This is just a quick post because it’s the weekend…I have talked a lot about the “commodification of education” in previous posts, but I thought this was a practical illustration of how far it has gone in Britain.
The Oxford Mail has a convenient website to help parents compare schools. I searched for secondary schools within a 5 mile radius of Oxford – there were 34 of them; 23 independent schools, 9 “academies” which are run with public money but by private “trusts”, 2 “maintained” (what we used to call comprehensives) and 3 “special” schools (not sure yet what that means). That in itself is amazing – the ratio of independent to state schools is approximately 2-1. I hope Oxford is not typical of most British cities.
I took the first 5 state schools to compare.
Here are some definitions:
Ofsted is the school inspectorate – each school gets inspected about every 4 years unless there is a request. The rating scale goes from 1 (outstanding) to 4 (inadequate). 2 is “good” and 3 is “needs improvement”. The independent schools apparently have their own inspection system, which surprise, surprise doesn’t get reported. I note that my neighbourhood school, in a working class neighbourhood, gets a 3.
5 A*-C GCSE’s : this is the percentage of 15 year olds who get 5 passes on their standardized tests
2 or more A-levels: this is the percentage of grads who passed at least 2 A levels (keeping in mind that most students only take 2 or 3 A-levels
It seems that the other categories are not applicable – too bad since they might be the most useful (at least to me).
Now, based on that information, I want my kid to go to Wheatley Park. So we apply, and since we’re out of area, they don’t have to accept us….unless they have space, and my kid has really high scores on their SATs (the tests that 11 year olds take when they finish primary school). So Wheatley Park takes a whole lot of high achieving kids from out of area, and their scores go up, and poor old Gregory the Great….
And what about the aspirations of a student who has no choice but to go to a school that is labeled “needs improvement”? Or the self-image of a primary student in an “inadequate” school, who asked her headteacher, “Does that mean the students are inadequate too?”
Thankfully, I don’t have a child to enrol…but I did go through this last time I lived in Britain, only without the handy comparative tool, and without the Ofsted ratings.
Is this what we’re aiming for in NS?