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Letters Extra: Were you paying attention?

Has anyone else noticed that differences between secondary schools for the recently-published KS3 to GCSE 'value added' scores are only tiny?

The figure is based on 100 being the average, with each point above or below this representing one GCSE grade per pupil for the total of all their GCSE grades (not for each GCSE they take).

This means that in a school with a value added score of 101, pupils can expect to get one additional grade, in just one of their GCSE subjects.

From the tables I have seen so far, it looks as though about two-thirds of all schools will only gain up to one GCSE point or lose up to four GCSE points.

Even a school such as Elmhirst, in South Yorkshire judged to be 'in the danger zone' of closure (TES 24.1.03) only loses 7.8 points - less than one grade per subject.

The highest value added score was achieved by Feversham College, Bradford, which gained 10.9 points - just above one grade per subject.

Such differences could be easily accounted for by a range of additional factors such as more or less parental support for revision and coursework, the pupil mix of different schools, and even variations in the criteria for the different exam boards used.

Perhaps all schools are doing the same, a relatively good job. Attempts to encourage schools with poor intakes to achieve at an average level might therefore be like asking schools with good intakes to teach every child in yr11 up to A level standard!

Martyn Long
Lynn Road,

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