Cambridge Education Guide Spring:Summer 2020 Newsletter



A Perfect Fit O P E N D A Y S A N D C H E C K I N G T H E L E A G U E T A B L E S W I L L O N L Y G E T Y O U S O F A R W H E N S E E K I N G O U T T H E R I G H T S C H O O L F O R Y O U R C H I L D . . .


hen it comes to choosing a school, the iceberg metaphor is extremely apt. Visiting – in person or online

– may give you a feel for the buildings, the grounds and the equipment, but what parents actually see when they’re choosing a school is about 10% of what life there is all about. The bottom line is that context matters. To be able to make an informed decision, it helps to know what the information you’re presented with can tell you and – more to the point – what it can’t. Many families start off with the results. In theory at least, they leave nowhere to hide – either a school is successful or it’s not. As national league tables are published online within days of exam results coming out, parents can see not just how well the school is doing, but how it compares with others. Whether the most recent results dazzle or disappoint, they are only a snapshot in time, representing just one year in a school’s life; in other words, they should be approached with caution. Some schools opt out of league tables altogether, feeling that they don’t give a rounded picture of everything a school has to offer, or what type of pupil it suits. For some children, an unashamedly academic environment can be just what they need. For others, including those who may be very able, a more mixed intake will be a better fit.

a marginally weaker cohort to do rather worse than anticipated for results to show a significant dip – only to shoot up again the following summer when a higher achieving group sits their exams. And if you’re still none the wiser (schools can be surprisingly reticent with the amount of detail they go into), it’s worth asking for a breakdown of grades for each subject. Again, it’s all about context. If just one pupil takes GCSE German but gains a

Taking a good look at exam results over several years can tell you far more about a school, or at least help you ask the right questions. If results are OK but in gentle decline compared with a few years back, parents should be asking why. Plenty of schools will have a blip that could be down to a revamped subject, a new syllabus or even variations in pupil ability. In smaller schools with correspondingly diminutive year groups, it only takes a few pupils in


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