Why Do the More Able Make Less Progress?

Why Do the More Able Make Less Progress?

(Free-Photos, Pixaby)

The Problem with High Attainers (Entering at Level 5)

 This is another post trying to give you uses for the Performance Tables.

The first thing to notice is that there are only 62 schools in the country with P8 of 0.5 or higher for students entering at level 5. This compares to 243 schools which reach that P8 figure from students entering at level 3!

This probably goes against our natural inclination – bright students learn quicker and should make more progress, shouldn’t they? What is going on?

We are the problem.

My conjecture is this: we vastly underestimate what our more able can do. The ways we do this are endemic in schools. We set, with fewer top sets spaces than the number of students who should be in them. We exclude the lazy, even if they have very high IQ scores or enter on a level 5. We consequently discriminate against bright boys in particular, as they make up the bulk of this lazy group – we fail to pass on our higher expectations to them. I’m willing to bet that the difference in boys and girls progress is equal to the difference in their placement in top sets. But this data goes far beyond that. it suggests that we don’t stretch our top sets enough, no matter who is in them.

Nationally speaking, have particularly high expectations. If you want to see what is so wrong with our expectations, consider this one fact. Nearly every grammar school sets. So, most students in a grammar school are told they are not bright enough, as they are not in a top set. Imagine that – all these students who have already averaged level 5, and passed an 11+ on top of that, the students who would walk into top sets in your school: well, two thirds of them are told they are not good enough the moment they walk through a grammar school’s doors.

How do grammar schools do? Well, only 14 selective schools make it into this list of 62 schools. There are 164 grammar schools in the country! The progress students make at grammar schools is woeful – those are simply facts.

But let’s not get complacent here. With 3117 secondary schools in the country, only 62 of all schools reach this figure of P8 0.5. That’s 2%! Why?

The answer is so obvious you won’t believe it. It’s this. We limit our more able by entering them for GCSE. We cap them, put on the brakes, tell them to hold their horses. What we should be doing is pricking the sides of their intent with the spurs of AS levels.

Now that these are decoupled from A levels, for our most able, how much more interesting and valuable would an AS level be than GCSE?

I’m also willing to bet that the AS exams themselves are a better test of student – not because they are harder, but because they are also more concerned with the subject. Certainly, at English Language and literature GCSEs, students have to jump through an enormous number of exam based hoops which have everything to do with exam technique and next to nothing to do with ability at English.

In other words, we are not teaching our more able students to master our subjects. Instead we are teaching them merely so they will know more than those who are less able than them. It is a bit like owning a Porsche and taking pride because we can drive it 10 miles an hour faster than a Mini, or hanging out with a fat friend so we can feel fitter, healthier and more attractive than them.

 

Here is the table of top schools for Progress 8 with students entering at level 5

SCHNAME TOWN TELNUM RELDENOM ADMPOL EGENDER High attainers level 5 total P8 of high attainers 
Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School Blackburn 0125 454021 Muslim COMP GIRLS 41 1
St Andrew’s Catholic School Leatherhead 0137 2277881 Roman Catholic COMP MIXED 42 0.83
The City Academy, Hackney London 0208 5255440 Does not apply COMP MIXED 30 0.79
Feversham College Bradford 0127 4559500 Muslim COMP GIRLS 17 0.78
The Compton School London 0208 3681783 Does not apply COMP MIXED 53 0.75
Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet Barnet 0208 4414646 None SEL BOYS 164 0.7
Uffculme School Cullompton 0188 4840458 None COMP MIXED 63 0.7
Tauheedul Islam Boys’ High School Blackburn 0125 4918670 Muslim COMP BOYS 20 0.7
Nonsuch High School for Girls Sutton 0208 3943400 None SEL GIRLS 165 0.69
Mossbourne Community Academy London 0208 5255200 Does not apply COMP MIXED 65 0.69
Our Lady & St. Bede Catholic Academy Stockton-on-Tees 0164 2890800 Roman Catholic COMP MIXED 47 0.69
Sacred Heart Catholic School London 0207 2746844 Roman Catholic COMP MIXED 26 0.68
Woodford County High School Woodford Green 0208 5040611 Does not apply SEL GIRLS 95 0.66
Bolton Muslim Girls School Bolton 0120 4361103 Muslim COMP GIRLS 41 0.66
Wallington High School for Girls Wallington 0208 6472380 None SEL GIRLS 147 0.64
Tiffin School Kingston upon Thames 0208 5464638 None SEL BOYS 133 0.64
Westcliff High School for Boys Academy Westcliff-on-Sea 0170 2475443 None SEL BOYS 119 0.64
Wallington County Grammar School Wallington 0208 6472235 None SEL BOYS 114 0.63
Millais School Horsham 0140 3254932 Does not apply COMP GIRLS 109 0.63
The Rochester Grammar School Rochester 0163 4843049 None SEL MIXED 130 0.62
Hethersett Academy Norwich 0160 3810924 Does not apply COMP MIXED 35 0.62
Preston Muslim Girls High School Preston 0177 2651906 Muslim COMP GIRLS 24 0.62
The Hertfordshire & Essex High School and Science College Bishop’s Stortford 0127 9654127 None COMP GIRLS 78 0.61
St Augustine’s Catholic High School Redditch 0152 7550400 Roman Catholic COMP MIXED 40 0.61
South Hunsley School and Sixth Form College North Ferriby 0148 2631208 Does not apply COMP MIXED 114 0.59
Wilson’s School Wallington 0208 7732931 Church of England SEL BOYS 132 0.58
Ursuline High School Wimbledon London 0208 2552688 Roman Catholic COMP GIRLS 85 0.58
Impington Village College Cambridge 0122 3200400 None COMP MIXED 84 0.58
King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys Birmingham 0121 4443188 Christian SEL BOYS 77 0.58
Bishop Thomas Grant Catholic Secondary School London 0208 7693294 Roman Catholic COMP MIXED 75 0.58
Watford Grammar School for Girls Watford 0192 3223403 Church of England COMP GIRLS 103 0.57
Balcarras School Cheltenham 0124 2515881 None COMP MIXED 79 0.57
Outwood Academy Portland Worksop 0190 9471010 Does not apply COMP MIXED 44 0.57
St Thomas More Catholic Comprehensive School London 0208 8506700 Roman Catholic COMP MIXED 41 0.57
St Benedict’s Catholic School Bury St Edmunds 0128 4753512 Roman Catholic COMP MIXED 38 0.57
St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School London 0208 4462256 Roman Catholic SEL GIRLS 95 0.56
The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial RC School London 0207 6038478 Roman Catholic COMP BOYS 64 0.56
Ark King Solomon Academy London 0207 5636900 Does not apply COMP MIXED 22 0.56
Invicta Grammar School Maidstone 0162 2755856 None SEL GIRLS 143 0.55
St Paul’s School for Girls Birmingham 0121 4540895 Roman Catholic COMP GIRLS 66 0.55
Heartlands High School London 0208 8261230 Does not apply COMP MIXED 23 0.55
Greig City Academy London 0208 6090100 Church of England COMP MIXED 22 0.55
Parkstone Grammar School Poole 0120 2605605 None SEL GIRLS 144 0.54
Connaught School for Girls London 0208 5393029 Does not apply COMP GIRLS 28 0.54
Buxton School London 0208 5343425 None COMP MIXED 12 0.54
Harris Academy Morden Morden 0208 6871157 None COMP MIXED 8 0.54
Beauchamp College Leicester 0116 2729100 Does not apply COMP MIXED 164 0.53
Upton Court Grammar School Slough 0175 3522892 None SEL MIXED 116 0.53
Waldegrave School Twickenham 0208 8943244 Does not apply COMP MIXED 99 0.53
Brampton Manor Academy London 0207 5400500 Does not apply COMP MIXED 81 0.53
Wembley High Technology College Wembley 0208 3854800 None COMP MIXED 69 0.53
Wren Academy London 0208 4926000 Church of England COMP MIXED 67 0.53
Loxford School Ilford 0208 5144666 Does not apply COMP MIXED 61 0.53
Bethnal Green Academy London 0207 9207900 Does not apply COMP MIXED 18 0.53
JFS Harrow 0208 2063100 Jewish COMP MIXED 155 0.52
St Mark’s Catholic School Hounslow 0208 5773600 Roman Catholic COMP MIXED 65 0.52
Linton Village College Cambridge 0122 3891233 None COMP MIXED 47 0.52
Paddington Academy London 0207 4793900 Christian COMP MIXED 42 0.52
Baylis Court School Slough 0175 3531760 None MOD GIRLS 32 0.51
Bowland High Clitheroe 0120 0441374 Does not apply MOD MIXED 31 0.51
St Albans Girls’ School St Albans 0172 7853134 Does not apply COMP GIRLS 86 0.5
The Heathland School Hounslow 0208 5724411 Does not apply COMP MIXED 75 0.5

 

Some Thoughts

24 of these schools are religious. We should ask ourselves what this helps the school adopt in terms of ethos and culture. (Given that these schools are Jewish, Muslim, Church of England and Catholic we can safely assume it is not one particular deity at work).

An overwhelming number of these schools are in the south and London. Apart from funding, what else might be contributing to this? This is interesting, because the bias toward London was not apparent with students entering at level 3.

Because there are relatively few such schools outside of London, it will be well worth visiting them to see what they are achieving without the apparent advantages London and the south have.

 

Here is a table of all those schools outside London

SCHNAME TOWN TELNUM RELDENOM ADMPOL EGENDER High attainers level 5 total P8 high attainers P8MEA_HI
Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School Blackburn 0125 454021 Muslim COMP GIRLS 41 1
St Andrew’s Catholic School Leatherhead 0137 2277881 Roman Catholic COMP MIXED 42 0.83
Feversham College Bradford 0127 4559500 Muslim COMP GIRLS 17 0.78
Tauheedul Islam Boys’ High School Blackburn 0125 4918670 Muslim COMP BOYS 20 0.7
Uffculme School Cullompton 0188 4840458 None COMP MIXED 63 0.7
Our Lady & St. Bede Catholic Academy Stockton-on-Tees 0164 2890800 Roman Catholic COMP MIXED 47 0.69
Nonsuch High School for Girls Sutton 0208 3943400 None SEL GIRLS 165 0.69
Bolton Muslim Girls School Bolton 0120 4361103 Muslim COMP GIRLS 41 0.66
Tiffin School Kingston upon Thames 0208 5464638 None SEL BOYS 133 0.64
Wallington High School for Girls Wallington 0208 6472380 None SEL GIRLS 147 0.64
Westcliff High School for Boys Academy Westcliff-on-Sea 0170 2475443 None SEL BOYS 119 0.64
Millais School Horsham 0140 3254932 Does not apply COMP GIRLS 109 0.63
Wallington County Grammar School Wallington 0208 6472235 None SEL BOYS 114 0.63
Hethersett Academy Norwich 0160 3810924 Does not apply COMP MIXED 35 0.62
Preston Muslim Girls High School Preston 0177 2651906 Muslim COMP GIRLS 24 0.62
The Rochester Grammar School Rochester 0163 4843049 None SEL MIXED 130 0.62
The Hertfordshire & Essex High School and Science College Bishop’s Stortford 0127 9654127 None COMP GIRLS 78 0.61
St Augustine’s Catholic High School Redditch 0152 7550400 Roman Catholic COMP MIXED 40 0.61
South Hunsley School and Sixth Form College North Ferriby 0148 2631208 Does not apply COMP MIXED 114 0.59
King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys Birmingham 0121 4443188 Christian SEL BOYS 77 0.58
Impington Village College Cambridge 0122 3200400 None COMP MIXED 84 0.58
Wilson’s School Wallington 0208 7732931 Church of England SEL BOYS 132 0.58
St Benedict’s Catholic School Bury St Edmunds 0128 4753512 Roman Catholic COMP MIXED 38 0.57
Balcarras School Cheltenham 0124 2515881 None COMP MIXED 79 0.57
Outwood Academy Portland Worksop 0190 9471010 Does not apply COMP MIXED 44 0.57
St Paul’s School for Girls Birmingham 0121 4540895 Roman Catholic COMP GIRLS 66 0.55
Invicta Grammar School Maidstone 0162 2755856 None SEL GIRLS 143 0.55
Parkstone Grammar School Poole 0120 2605605 None SEL GIRLS 144 0.54
Loxford School Ilford 0208 5144666 Does not apply COMP MIXED 61 0.53
Beauchamp College Leicester 0116 2729100 Does not apply COMP MIXED 164 0.53
Linton Village College Cambridge 0122 3891233 None COMP MIXED 47 0.52
Bowland High Clitheroe 0120 0441374 Does not apply MOD MIXED 31 0.51
St Albans Girls’ School St Albans 0172 7853134 Does not apply COMP GIRLS 86 0.5

 

You may notice that 6 of the top 11 have a religious denomination. Something clearly 1s up. What is it about the culture of these schools, and how can we find out?

One way is to visit. That’s why I’ve kept the phone numbers for you.

Another is to add comment below, especially if you teach in one of these schools, and we can crowdsource some solutions all schools can steal.