...and fewer pupils eligible for free school meals
The top ten mainstream state-funded schools in England based on provisional Progress 8 (P8) tend to have low proportions of pupils with a special educational needs statement or an education, health and care plan, Schools Week reports.
The ten schools tend to have a lower proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) in January 2018 than other schools. Only one exceeded the national proportion for secondary schools (12.4%) and its local proportion*: Eden Girls’ School, Coventry, which has 24.2% FSM pupils. The local proportion of secondary FSM eligible pupils is 16.5%.
Three exceeded the national figure but not the proportion locally. Six fell below both the national and local proportions.
Fewer previously low-attaining pupils
The breakdown of schools’ intake showing how many GCSE pupils were previously low-attaining, middle-attaining or high-attaining isn’t available for 2018 until January. But if the pattern from 2017 is repeated, then the top ten schools have far more previously high-attaining pupils than low-attaining ones**.
There was one exception. The Steiner Academy Hereford entered 23 pupils for GCSE in 2017. Two were previously high attainers while six were previously low-attainers.
Previously low-attaining pupils are less likely to take the eight exams eligible for Progress 8. This disadvantages schools where the intake is skewed towards previously low-attainers. Conversely, it’s an advantage when schools have few of them.
Faith schools dominate
Seven of the top ten are faith schools: four Muslim, one Jewish, one Church of England and one Catholic school.
Over half are single sex schools
Six of the top ten are single sex schools: five for girls and one for boys
All types of schools feature
All types of schools appear: four academies (converter or sponsored); four free schools and two local authority maintained (LA) schools.
Three haven’t been inspected since becoming academies
Three of the schools, Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High, Wembley High Technology College and Bolton Muslim Girls’ School haven’t had a full inspection since becoming academies. All three were judged outstanding when LA schools and one, Wembley High, hasn’t been fully inspected since September 2008.
Not possible to use a small sample to draw conclusions
It’s not possible to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of different types of school based on a sample of ten schools. But that's what is happening. The New Schools Network boasts about the four free schools in the top ten but this bragging ignores the number of free schools bouncing along the bottom.
The data could just as easily be used to claim the success of faith schools, non-faith schools, single-sex schools, co-educational schools, comprehensive schools (except that most of the top ten can’t be described as fully comprehensive and inclusive), schools in the north, schools in London…
But all such conclusions would be equally misleading.
* Caution is needed with these figures. The government database, GetInformationAboutSchools, gives FSM figures based on number of pupils eligible in January 2018. The enormous spreadsheet showing for local authorities free school data has at least three separate FSM figures. I chose the ones headed 'school performance tables'. These may show pupils eligible for FSM for six years. If this is the case, my conclusion may be misleading. We won't know definitely until the full league tables are published in January 2019.