16/12/2009

Grove Academy Top Dundee Comprehensive School in Herald League Tables

Congratulations to staff and pupils at Grove Academy for their position as the highest performing Dundee Comprehensive School in The Herald's League Tables of Secondary Schools in Scotland. They are comfortably placed at 37th in Scotland's top 50 performing schools. These league tables have been calculated by comparing the higher exam results from each school on the basis of S5 pupils gaining 5 or more Highers at one sitting. 19% of Grove pupils achieved passes in 5 or more Highers in the SQA examinations in May/June 2008. Without detracting from their performance, league tables like this do come with a health warning.

Brian Boyd, emeritus professor of education at Strathclyde University, quoted in The Herald today said:
“Once again, we have the annual ritual of trying to give parents information which helps them choose a school, but what we end up with is often very misleading because what league tables tend to show you is the affluence of the catchment area, ­rather than the input of the schools or the effort of the teachers. Exam results give you no indication of how much value is added. If you were trying to measure what a school does you need to measure what level a young person is when they enter the school and compare that to where they are when they leave, and exams do not do that – they give no indication of the contribution the school has made.”

For that reason, when I was Education Convener of the City Council (May 2007 - April 2009, I encouraged the Directorate to work with our schools to collect the data to also publish 'valued added' tables that can measure the difference between a pupil's starting points on entry into primary one and secondary year one and their exit level of attainment on leaving secondary school. Jim Collins, Director of Education, should clarify whether the Council has now collected the data to be able to publish value added tables for our schools. The new Education Convener, Liz Fordyce (SNP), should clarify whether she is willing to publish these results.