Close

Twitter Wall

12/11/19

Today Seniors and Sixth Form we have enjoyed a full day off-timetable with Years 5, 7 & 10 joining forces for a maths workshop, high-paced debating sessions for Year 9, Study Skills workshops for Year 11, and motivational 'Inner Drive' talks for our Sixth Form. https://t.co/g7pXJN8ikD

12/11/19

Retweeted From Year 6 BHS

Year 5 working hard at the Morning of Maths https://t.co/Sgp9MCBIUy

11/11/19

Retweeted From Judy Mitchem

Thanks to the GDST family for being there ⁦⁩ ⁦⁩ ⁦⁩ ⁦⁩ ⁦⁩ ⁦⁩ ⁦⁩ ⁩ ⁦⁩ ⁦⁩ ⁦https://t.co/nUmX5Ccxo9

06/11/19

Retweeted From Year 6 BHS

Happy (belated!) Divali from 6H!🎆 https://t.co/XjHuCgE9Ld

05/11/19

Retweeted From BlackheathHigh Sport

A very enjoyable first Monday back with year 2&3 netball club https://t.co/Oxq6Dxdjyl

22/10/19

Retweeted From Carol Chandler-Thomp

have had a fabulous creative time in Berlin this half term https://t.co/hB8ltajUCq

22/10/19

Well spotted!

16/10/19

Retweeted From Sarah Skevington

Make a splash! Juniors https://t.co/zVsQcfyAbg

15/10/19

Retweeted From Year 6 BHS

Congratulations 5H. Proud winners of the Greenwich Maths Competition! https://t.co/0O16cBPEHI

15/10/19

Retweeted From BlackheathHigh Sport

It has been a promising morning for the U16 netballers at the Kent County tournament. 2 wins, 2 loses, all to play for 🏐💪 https://t.co/IuCiFjD9ge

14/10/19

Thank you to everyone who has donated uniform so far! https://t.co/rDTAYrOraA

14/10/19

We hope you enjoyed our Open Morning as much as we did! For another chance to see how we are preparing young women for the future, sign up for our ‘School in Action’ open events on 7 & 13 November. https://t.co/AZRo2SQpYI https://t.co/yxHVtQs9ac

10/10/19

Retweeted From Carol Chandler-Thomp

Very excited about today’s Wollstonecraft lecture https://t.co/ba1La7oRgj

09/10/19

Retweeted From BlackheathHigh Sport

The rain didn’t stop us!!! Look at this amazing finish at Cross Country Club! 🏃🏽‍♀️🌦👏🏼 https://t.co/5U4Xvu5VLK

07/10/19

Retweeted From Year 6 BHS

hard at work at https://t.co/KtbrXwwzvM

03/10/19

Retweeted From Sarah Skevington

Florence deep in high level discussion with the head Girl team https://t.co/VoC8bioy1K

02/10/19

Retweeted From Sarah Skevington

. Thanks you’ve converted us into rugby fans! https://t.co/fCF5gy8KRE

02/10/19

Retweeted From Sarah Skevington

Did enjoy the tag rugby day . Just a bit! https://t.co/xF6ibNUevj

02/10/19

Retweeted From Carol Chandler-Thomp

Mrs Harris’ early morning fitness club literally going from strength to strength - great work! https://t.co/jRBs3dHjD1

01/10/19

Retweeted From BlackheathHigh Sport

The junior girls cross country team are lined up ready to race! Beautiful weather for the first round of the ESAA 1st round https://t.co/YYgsFTTdDL

01/10/19

Retweeted From BlackheathHigh Sport

Great afternoon of Hockey at Crystal Palace today against other schools! Excellent display of determination, bravery and skill! Well done everyone 💪🏼 🏑 https://t.co/4eyozQnOes

27/09/19

On Wednesday 25 September, our very own Tia presented her first show! It'll be aired Saturday 28 Sep at 10.30am on for all who want to watch. Great job Tia! https://t.co/yH7g35ydaq

26/09/19

You're welcome - so glad they enjoyed themselves.

26/09/19

It was a pleasure to host you! https://t.co/oaHh4XF5Rp

26/09/19

We had a wonderful time welcoming girls from and for our languages day today https://t.co/nyBhPMCQ4B

25/09/19

Retweeted From Sarah Skevington

Fantastic combo from Astonishing numbers relating to https://t.co/l3FZkmJTRx

25/09/19

Retweeted From _CleanSea

Great to see that they’re teaching their students about the importance of environmental responsibility!👍🏼🌊

25/09/19

Retweeted From Sarah Skevington

The sheer of being 6 years old and your heart out https://t.co/kJL78CkbQ3

25/09/19

Retweeted From Blackheath Science

A group of our Year 8 students enjoyed a really inspiring day at the inaugural conference at Imperial College London. They've come back buzzing with ideas and plans. https://t.co/sSLtn9e47J

25/09/19

Retweeted From BlackheathHigh Sport

Another great session at HIIT club this morning! Well done to everyone who came 👏🏼💪🏼 https://t.co/zCMQLby9ro

24/09/19

Retweeted From Natalie Argile

So jealous of Year 10 and 11 right now! https://t.co/gelkjgVoyA

20/09/19

Year 10 and 11 getting their first taste of rowing and building team development on their special day trip to the Royal Albert Docks! https://t.co/CZl5dyxkfq

20/09/19

Retweeted From Year 7 @ Blackheath

Raft Building, as ever, is such fun! Warning there are lots of wet clothes coming home! https://t.co/MFd4cxHijT

19/09/19

We're impressed, Ms Wood! https://t.co/5V01XxzyGI

18/09/19

Retweeted From Year 7 @ Blackheath

After lunch abseiling https://t.co/pE16nSwLJ4

18/09/19

Retweeted From Year 7 @ Blackheath

And we’re here! https://t.co/DSAAXghR9I

18/09/19

Enjoy your PGL trip, Year 7! https://t.co/DjxGdGLdQX

18/09/19

Such an awe-inspiring view right on our doorstep ❤️ https://t.co/4s0yAXJGQD

December 13

League tables and the illusion of Parent Power

It is argued that the aim of the annual publication of the 'Parent Power' league tables in the Sunday Times is to provide parents with an informed choice. Armed with a rank order based on percentages of A*-A, SATs scores, choices can be made for secondary and primary school based on cold hard evidence. Well, this is partially true. League tables have utility, they tell you the grades achieved by students in a school in a certain year in public examinations. Sometimes, they even refer to the previous year’s results so that you can gauge year-on-year progress. It is a great celebration of a really impressive achievement of many students and the hard work of teachers in schools.

Unfortunately, that is about all you can tell from League Tables. Suggesting that this limited array of information puts ‘power’ in the hands of parents is a little misleading as it is really just presenting some of the information, as if it were all of the information. This is a classic case of ‘valuing what we can measure’ as opposed to measuring what we value.

Speaking to most parents, all the qualities they really truly value in a school are not visible in these kind of league tables. As a teacher, I have taught in schools at the very top of the league tables, but also those not at the top. All these schools were and are, great schools. A more sophisticated judgement is needed.

Absolute measures, such as percentages of A*, do not demonstrate the progress made by students as they have moved through school. A highly selective school may have a predominance of students whose baselining testing indicates that they are already highly likely to achieve A*s when they arrive in Year 7. It is extremely hard for any school to ‘add value’ in this situation, although of course, students still have to be well taught to reach their predicted A*. In a school with a wider range of abilities, however, a student may arrive in Year 7 with a baseline prediction of a ‘B’ or a ‘C’ but eventually achieve an ‘A’. This grade is not as seemingly impressive as the A*, but the rate of progress and ‘value-added’ is extremely impressive. Great schools work to help every student flourish and aim high, but unfortunately that cannot be reflected in a league table such as ‘Parent Power’. Arguably, you learn more about the selectivity of the admissions process than the effectiveness of the school when only considering outcomes without context. Recently St Olave’s Grammar in Kent came under fire for its policy to ask ‘failing’ Year 12 students to leave the school mid-way through their A-levels in the interests of preserving league table dominance. If a league table place can only be preserved by ruthless exclusion, not inspiration and great teaching, something is going seriously wrong; the student is no longer at the heart of the school. To quote Margaret Attwood: “context is all.”

The plethora and complexity of different testing regimes has also muddied the waters. If a Junior School, such as my own, chooses not to subject 11 year-olds to SAT tests, they simply do not appear in the Primary tables at all, even though the education they are offering is absolutely superb. The impossibility of comparison within a jungle of qualifications (IGCSE, GCSE, Grade 9 with A*, A-level with IB) exacerbates this muddiness no end.

This is only to focus on public examinations, but a great education is about so much more. Sending students out into the world with a clutch of exam certificates and nothing else, is not a great education; they will falter at the first real hurdle. Students need to be confident networking and speaking to people from all different walks of life; they need to present publicly; they need to be resilient to life’s challenges; they need to be creative problem solvers and team-players, they need confidence. All this comes from a genuinely balanced and engaging curriculum and co-curriculum. These are not visible in league tables.

Lastly, the least measurable quality of a great school, but probably the most important, is its values and ethos. Is it a place that a student can genuinely discover their own personal qualities, feel valued and build positive and genuine relationships with peers and adults? Can they be happy and develop their appreciation of non-material aspects of life? It is totally impossible to measure these qualities of a school, but they can make or break a student’s experience. This can only be appreciated in person, through absorbing the atmosphere and sense of community in a school, not through the centre pages of a weekend supplement.

So keep the tables in their place: a tiny part of a very big story.

Also In the News