Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Be not afraid of greatness

As we slither towards the new school year and the looming A level and GCSE results' days we thought it might be a good idea to compare the most recent inspection reports of the three main English-medium secondary schools that serve the area - Ysgol John Bright, Eirias High and Ysgol Bryn Elian.

Running a comprehensive school is a complex business, but the person responsible - the Head Teacher - is paid extremely well to do the job, so it seems reasonable to expect that they take responsibility for the quality and results the school produces.

Many students will be wondering which schools do best for their sixth formers and, to those who have children, few things will matter as much as the secondary school they will eventually choose. In the past, that choice was non-existent, the Secondary being decided largely on the choice of Primary.  Things have been changing for a long time, however, and now parents can choose the secondary school they want, within reason.  To add to the local natter about what the schools are like, however, the government made it possible to see the inspection reports and it's from the 2008 and 2009 reports that this blog is taken.  

Inspection reports aren't simple things to read, so we've extracted the most pertinent aspects and shown them below.

The first thing to read is the summary. This shows the overall grade, if you like, that the inspectors have awarded the school.

Eirias: Eirias High School is a very good school which has many outstanding features.

John Bright: Ysgol John Bright is a good school with some outstanding features.

Bryn Elian: Ysgol Bryn Elian is a good school with potential

Probably the next thing to check is how they perform against all the the schools in Wales.  Inspections use a standardised scoring method to assess schools:

Grade 1 good with outstanding features
Grade 2  good features and no important shortcomings
Grade 3 good features outweigh shortcomings
Grade 4 some good features, but shortcomings in important areas
Grade 5  many important shortcomings

so that - in effect - the more 1s and 2s, the better.   So how did the three schools score on the critical Key Questions?

But the most important aspect of the inspection - and that which matters most to parents - is the assessment of the quality of teaching and learning.   Here, the inspectors mark the lessons observed against the Welsh averages using percentages. Again, they grade with 1 (Best) to 5 (worst).

Across Wales 19% of lessons get a grade 1, 57% a grade 2 and 21% grade 3.  So how did our three schools do?

From the table above, it can be seen that Eirias had a massive 41% of lessons judged as  good with outstanding features, while John Bright had 12% and Bryn Elian managed 9%.

Finally, it's always worth looking at the statements made by the inspectors about the same sorts of areas in each school.

Perhaps the most telling statement is made about how learners progress.  About Eirias, for example, the inspectors note that

"the attainment of learners shows outstanding progress when compared to their abilities on entry. They fulfil their potential and are well prepared to move on to their next stage of learning. This, too, is an outstanding achievement." 

while about John Bright they state

"The quality of guidance and support is outstanding. Teachers and support staff encourage pupils to give of their best and give very good pastoral support. The provision for pupils with special needs, and for all pupils at KS4 when preparing for external examinations, is extensive. They are well supported at this time and their progress against their targets is closely monitored."  

In Bryn Elian's report they say

"In KS4, the school has managed to address the fall in performance in 2007, producing a significantly improved set of results in 2008. The standards of attainment in GCSE in 2008 are such that they return to an improving trend established over the three years prior to 2007."

Inspection reports only offer a snapshot into the work and quality of any school.  Nonetheless, it can be seen that the main English-medium secondary  provision in Llandudno and Colwyn Bay is far above average.


1 comment:

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