Senior Headmaster's Blog: Felsted Leads the County

In January, the Department for Education published their league tables for schools across England. These measure progress made across three levels: Primary, Secondary, and Sixth Form. Because we do not make our pupils take SATs, we do not have a score for Primary, and as we are doing some iGCSEs, alongside GCSEs, we do not have a score at Secondary level either.

The discussion over the relative merits of iGCSE and GCSE is perhaps for another post, but as I have pointed out in previous years, it puts us on an equal footing with Eton at the end of Year 11, because the iGCSE grades are not counted in these measures, and we both score 0% for five good GCSEs, including English and Maths (our real score is around 98%).

The Sixth Form measure looks at the level at which each student enters the Sixth Form, and tracks expected progress to A Level (or other qualification), and I was delighted to see that we came out with the best progress score in the whole of Essex. I recognise that I am often not a great champion for league tables in education, as statistics can be used creatively, and they often demonstrate that selective schools tend to produce 'better' results than non-selective schools. These league tables are not immune to those risks, but at least, in the same way that we assess internally each of our academic departments based on 'Value Added' results, here the measure is on improvement, and is designed to demonstrate the average impact of the education being received.

Of course, the other risk with league tables is that they reflect an 'average' position within a school, and actually we are not particularly interested in averages, because we are interested in individuals. League tables also rip out all the quality and character of the education, and look only at exam results, and again, this is nowhere near a full reflection of what a good school does. A kind, socially aware, confident, thoughtful, reflective, resilient, well-balanced young person, who happens to have enjoyed success both inside and outside the classroom is what we hope to develop through each student's time at Felsted. This may well look different for every person, and indeed it should look very different for most individuals. So, I am very proud of the efforts of last year's leavers, for their achievement; I am very proud of the work put in by all of the teachers, to help them to this success, but I also recognise that there is still more for us to do to ensure that every single pupil coming through the school continues to take the opportunity to make progress, while also developing the values and character that will set them up to be successful in whatever their future life may bring.

Chris Townsend


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