Friday, 14 August 2009

Good decision - wrong reasons

You can probably guess from the contents of this blog that I do try to make decisions in a rational way.

(see the caravan in France episode)

Years back our kids were coming up to High School age and so we had to think about whether or not we had to try to get them into a different school to whichever of the three in our town they were allocated by the local education authority.

So as a parent do you pour through the league tables?

We decided not to, on the basis that the attitude of the child, which can be strongly influenced by the parents, i.e. us, seemed to us to be far more important than any slight statistical difference in league tables which (at that time) took no effect of the quality of the intake to the schools anyway.

As it happens the kids have done quite well, and the school they were allocated (slightly worse by the crude tables when our first child started there - I can now see) was easily top of the three at the time our eldest did his exams.

This article shows why we made a good decision (to ignore the league tables) but for the wrong reason. (doh)

BTW the tables do now take account of the quality of intake (see below) so they are better than they were, but if you don't have a crystal ball, still a waste of time and money in my opinion. Spend the money on helping the schools improve I say.

"The CVA system allows for more meaningful comparisons between schools but, because the CVA figures are published alongside the original (5+A*-C) figures, it is the latter, simpler - but more misleading - measure that tends to be used in the media and subsequently by parents.
Speaking about the findings, Dr Leckie said:
‘Parents need to be aware that the tables contain less information than official sources imply and that this necessitates a lower weight being placed on them as compared with other sources of information available to parents. It is also worth noting that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have either never had or have abandoned publishing school league tables. Now seems a good time for England to follow suit.’"
The paper, The Limitations of Using School League Tables to Inform School Choice by Dr George Leckie and Professor Harvey Goldstein, is available to download from the Centre for Market and Public Organisation website.

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