Schools like ours

Are there any? any schools like ours?

You’d think, like I did, that schools in our local area would be pretty much the same as us. Being in the same postcode area, S10, and in the same Parliamentary Constituency, Hallam, and in the same city, Sheffield, surely seven schools nearby have more in common than separates us?

We do have an interest in finding similar schools, and we are in fact urged to do so by bodies such as Ofsted and the DfE. By looking at a ‘similar’ school, how it spends its money and then its school performance, we can ask questions about whether we are efficient and effective, or not.

In the olden days (aka the 1990’s) Ofsted made a simple judgement in Inspection about ‘value for money’. It sounded a bit too commercial for most of us, like comparing schools with a loaf of artisan bread, perhaps, but it did say something both profound and simple at the same time.

Last week we got notice about the publication of the most up to date (but still a full year old) dashboard, the ‘Benchmarking Report Card’. It gives a few headline scores on the ways schools spend their resources – things like percentage of funds spent on teachers, and pupil : teacher ratio.

Schools like ours, then.

The Report Card finds five schools most like Lydgate Junior School; English Martyrs’ RC Primary School, 35 miles away in Leeds; High Ham C of E Primary School, 168 miles away in Somerset; Saint Alban and St Stephen Catholic Junior School, 123 miles away in St Albans; St Luke’s Halsall C of E Primary School, 63 miles away in Liverpool and Warrender Primary School, 133 miles away in Ruislip, Middlesex.

Normally we compare ourselves with schools just a mile or two away, and that’s how the national performance tables like to present things. Parents make informed choices based on information presented geographically based on a search point centered round a postcode. Yet what the DfE’s own Benchmark Report Card suggests is that our Division of the League table should be much wider spread!

So here is our own league table, formed round these five schools and our point of interest this year, greater depth writing scores:

School

Percentage of pupils achieving at a higher standard in reading, writing and maths

Lydgate Junior School

18%

English Martyrs’ RC Primary School

17%

High Ham C of E Primary School

17%

Saint Alban and St Stephen Catholic Junior School

12%

St Luke’s Halsall C of E Primary School

5%

Warrender Primary School

10%

The Report Card suggest we question why we spend 55% of our budget on teaching staff (above the average of our statistical neighbours, while running a pupil : teacher ratio above all bar one) but the school performance tables suggest we are doing rather well, even in an area where we are looking to improve further. Whoever we are like, we really do appear to be doing rather well by our pupils.


There's a public version of benchmarking available here. https://schools-financial-benchmarking.service.gov.uk/?utm_source=BRC_maintained_19&utm_medium=email


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Attendance

We've achieved...

97.6%

Our target is...

97.4%