The present league tables inevitably puts schools in leafy suburbs at the top and struggling inner-city ones at the bottom. The challenge is to persuade a cynical media, as well as parents and the general public, that CVA is the real measure of school effectiveness.
CVA was invented to try and pull off precisely the trick Mr Ion is attempting.
"OK, the results are dire, but given the raw material they've done a fantastic job"
In practice I believe that private schools also come top in CVA measurement, but let it pass. Anyway, I was moved by Mr Ion's argument to post the following :
Mike Ion is quite right.
Let's take two schools - say St Cuthberts CoE Secondary in the small Somerset market town of Marston Bigot, and the Learco Chindamo Community College in Maida Vale.
St Cuthberts has a catchment area of mostly well-off middle class Bristol commuters, with a few farmers and agricultural workers, a largish contingent of young Poles who are rapidly replacing the native agricultural workers, and a small number of benefit-dependent natives concentrated on a single 'social housing' estate.
The children reflect this mix (although there are fewer young Poles - they're still in nursery). 71% of year 11s get 5 A-Cs including Maths and English.
At Learco Chindamo Community College, over 950 languages are spoken - remarkable in a school of 800 children. There are large numbers of children from Somalia, Angola, Kurdistan and Afghanistan. There is a fully manned police station in the school. Security guards patrol the corridors. There is a significant gang problem - one Somali pupil was knifed to death outside the gates last year. 31% of Year 11s get 5 A-Cs including Maths and English.
Yet considering that many of the children arrriving in Year 7 have significant language disabilities, learning and conduct disorders, and low levels of educational attainment, this 31% represents a significant achievement by dedicated staff. In CVA terms, the school adds twice as much value between years 7 and 11 as does St Cuthberts.
Well, given the choice, any parent would be crazy not to choose Learco Chindamo Community College over St Cuthberts.
Wouldn't they ?