Day 60 – The Key Stage 1 SATs Myth

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.

5 Responses to Day 60 – The Key Stage 1 SATs Myth

  1. JamesD says:

    Sorry SMS, but the Education Officers also explained that whatever the true differences are between Bedford Borough and our Statistical Neighbours the DCSF, OfSTED etc only care about the raw results. The Council Officers are held to account for these results so whatever is driving the GCSE performance in reality does not matter to them!
    Remember it is not the Councillors’ fault that Bedfordshire spent less on education than the English average or than our better performing Statistical Neighbours. It is not the Officers’ fault that they did not enforce good transition arrangements until after the 2006 decision to retain 3-Tier. It is all the fault of school structure – so no one has to take responsibility.
    PS Who pays the salaries of these Education Officers – the Council Tax payers of Bedford or the DCSF?

    • A Governor says:

      “The Council Officers are held to account for these results so whatever is driving the GCSE performance in reality does not matter to them!”….

      ….except that, without having a full understanding of the what *is* driving the GCSE performance you cannot be certain that any change you initiate is going to influence them – or even influence them in the direction you want.

      In other words, it should still matter to them very much, even if they think the comparisons are “unfair”.

  2. jack says:

    I’m a kid at Middle School and I am privilaged that the openings to my learning for opporunity to prepare for my upper schooling was given to me at middle school. I have a cousin in St Albans who is the same age as me and we where discussing the differences between 2 teir and 3 teir as we have in Bedford. The big difference is that she was unable to progress in Physical eduction where she feels her skill is, she unable to access this in year 5 and also the opportunity to conduct science experiements in well equipt sciene labs or hands on in FTT. The difference is that they stay in the same class until they go to Senior school where they join a large number of pupulis. Her grades/sats/level are a lot lower than is expect of our school after discussing at great length we decided that being 3 teir was better and gave greater opportunity than 2 teir. I also have a cusoin who goes to private school in St Ablans and he is taken his GCSE’s (aged 16) the family think he is really clever but I pointed out that in yr8 their where a number of children taken GCSE’s without paying for this unique opportunity! My other cusion expressed that she would love to go to school in Bedford as she felt it gave more and wider experience of subjects. I feel that if I had stayed at lower school for an extra 2 yrs I would not been able to cope with all the future organisation/pressures that upper schools hold. Do we as children in middle school have a say, be honest don’t avoid the point!

  3. jack says:

    lol sorry for the spelling mistakes

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