Don’t forget to come to our meetings this week…Beauchamp 7pm Mon, Woodside 7pm Tue, Harrold Village Hall 7pm Wed, Bromham Village Hall 8:15pm Thu…
Another one of the great myths that the Education mafia is allowing to become “truth” is that Bedford performs poorly at GCSE despite brilliant Key Stage 1 SATs results which outperform everyone else…and the official consultation meetings showed some incredibly poor graphs to demonstrate this (in Excel – and no professional statistician uses Excel for plots, believe me)…
Beware of complex problems that are shown to have simple solutions – somebody is trying to mislead you.
The problem is that they do not compare like with like. Apples and pears yet again, although I am tempted to call this apples and avocados (like our statistical neighbours mostly having grammar schools). What they should be doing of course is following individual children through the educational system from age 4 (baseline tests) to age 18 (A-levels or equivalent). By comparing one cohort of children at Key Stage 1 with another at Key Stage 4, any comparison is confused (confounded we in the stats world call it) with the cohort effect.
One of the reasons why this is particularly bad in Bedford is that many children attend state lower schools before going on to the independent sector – around a quarter of all GCSE candidates in Bedford are at private schools. Nobody knows how many pupils take KS1 tests in Bedford Borough state schools but are not present in Bedford Borough’s state GCSE results. NOBODY KNOWS.
Another reason is that, especially in the Sandy and Wootton pyramids, some of our pupils cross over into Central Bedfordshire’s school system at some point – the school systems are intertwined. So, yet again, we are not comparing like with like.
There is also an argument that some lower schools, having no responsibility for progress after KS1, are encouraged by their school improvement partners (SIPs) to ensure that their teacher-assessed KS1 SATs are representative of what their pupils would achieve “on a good day”. This is an entirely positive process for all involved, and no implied criticism is intended of teachers, heads or SIPs. However, it does, then make it difficult for middle school teachers at KS2 to show the progress required by their SIPs.
The really important point here is that pupils’ results “recover” over time and our children do no worse, and probably better, than truly similar authorities such as Milton Keynes and Swindon once they get to GCSE.
Hmm…the bureaucrats said at the Biddenham open meeting that they have a professional statistician working for them…maybe they’d like to run these figures by an independent and properly qualified educational statistician for comment…SMS could put them in touch with a few via the Royal Statistical Society.