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Value-Added at A-level:  Good News!

We have had cause to celebrate our girls’ wonderful achievements at A-level at various points throughout the year – from results day in August when it was clear that the raw results were outstanding (breaking school records on a number of measures, including most importantly the key measure of %A*/B grades, which at 87.3% was up five percentage points on 2014), through to the publication of the Sunday Times ParentPower Guide in November (when our results at both GCSE and A-level led to our best-ever position in their league tables of 14th state school in the country).

And then in February 2016, the DfE published their 16-18 performance tables[1]. The most interesting part of these tables is the section on A-level progress, which gives the school a value-added score. Ours is 0.13. That might not look a very big number, but the fact that both confidence limits are positive figures (the lower one is 0.05) means that this is a statistically significant outcome. The score itself shows how much progress students make between the end of KS4 and the end of KS5. The score is shown as a number of A-level grade(s) above or below the national average level of progress for students of similar prior ability. The “similar prior ability” is important: in other words, the comparison is with other bright and able students across the country – and we are doing very well against that benchmark. In a simple comparison of scores with nine other girls’ grammar schools in our network, our 0.13 is the second highest score. We are delighted! This means not only that our girls are achieving very highly in terms of their raw scores, but also that they are doing 0.13 grades better than might be expected, given their exceptionally high GCSE scores. Well done, girls – and well done, too, to the teachers!

Kate Barnett, Headteacher


Value Added Explained 


The gist is simple:  it indicates how well a school has brought on pupils from one test level to another.  Each pupil’s performance in a set of tests is compared with the middle performance of all pupils nationally who had a similar performance at the previous test level.  Someone who is academic to start with is compared with other academic students – so the result does not depend on how well they do in outright terms, but how much they have improved, whatever their ability.  This means that a special school for children with learning difficulties can be compared with a grammar school that selects children by academic ability.

Results of all the pupils in school are averaged and added to 100, which is the middle level nationally – so you end up with scores such as 95 (below average) or 105 (above).

Girls’ schools dominate the top of the value added league tables.  Could it be that – as other evidence suggests – girls are the better learners? 

We think so!