Progress, of course, is the measure of how a child, in practice, achieves against expectation, as measured against baselines and predicted flightpaths established when a child joins a school.
A few issues here. First, this area is hugely contentious. More selective schools have less interest, quite logically, in its gaining profile because it distracts parents from the be-all and end-all of exam league tables in which they excel – or should. It is much more difficult to measure outstanding value-add in the most academically selective schools (although that does not mean it cannot be, or is not, delivered.)
Second, it is almost impossible to compare value add and child progress schools between with different curricular.
Third, within even the same curricular schools, there is disagreement on how you measure it (or should do).
Fourth, much value-add data is not reliable because, outside a school, it cannot be accessed independently with ease. Many organisations managing the data do not favour its being used for “marketing” purposes. The information, as a result, is not published for all to see – as it is now in, for example, the UK (in part).
Finally, there are concerns around just how much testing should be “inflicted’ on children and VA absolutely depends on data and the testing required to generate performance feedback over time.
We have evaluated this category on the following basis:
(1) We have calculated a baseline score for each school based on reported KHDA and ADEK child progress data across Science, English and Mathematics, curriculum adaption, data management and SEND through each phase of school provision. This is not an exact science because we do not have date-comparative reporting for all schools. For consistency in some cases we have to rely on older data, this to the detriment of some schools where we know more recent data would support very different results. Where a school only provides secondary education, we have simply doubled the score to reflect an estimate of data for Primary and Middle phases. There are strong arguments against doing this, but we are dealing with broad approximations only here to guide our view. There are also discrepancies in the way ADEK and the KHDA measure adaptation with ADEK much more concerned with integration of Arabic context within the curriculum (not our concern here) rather than the KHDAs concern with SEND adaptation. ADEK is also more demanding across the board. Where we can support it, we have adjusted the ADEK scoring. For each, we have used a simple scoring aligning 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 points with each of the KHDA Outstanding, Very Good, Good, Acceptable and Weak descriptors in each category. We have contextualised this score first through the lens of the degree to which the school is academically, SEND and culturally inclusive and secondly through the prism of eventual performance in examinations. This is not a perfect science by any stretch, not even close – and the KHDA use GL to calculate Progress which, arguably, is more flawed a measure than alternatives.
But by pulling these aspects of KHDA reporting together, with our broader knowledge base, we have been able to add another comparative variable that measures across VA related school provision. These are all the areas that provide context to VA. It is also worth noting that any exercise in VA is problematic because of churn. Across the UAE’s schools we estimate a maximum of just over half of students make the full journey from Year 7 to Year 11.
(2) We have looked at schools that have actively promoted VA in this area, not just with regulators, but also with other schools that do not publish. It is our view that if schools all reported VA scoring, it would transform education and the ability of parents to better choose the right school for their children. We have deliberately here looked at the bigger picture of how schools shortlisted here have, but also could, make the biggest impact in securing change in the sector and encouraging parents to start looking beyond exam league results in deciding on the best school for their children.
(3) We have looked at the balance of inclusion aspiration and role to concomitant investment in facilities, teaching faculty and subject breadth to support progress.
(4) We have used confidential data that schools have shared with us with caution in guiding our decision. Where we have been able, given issues of confidentiality and permission, we have shared parts of this.
We introduced this award because we believe that schools should publish two sets of results. The first examination grades at 16 and 18 and, second, with these, value add. This would result in very different ‘league tables’ enabling parents to make significantly more informed decisions based upon the needs, ability, potential and aspirations of their children.
This is not to undermine academically selective schools – these are important for a number of extremely academic children. Publishing value-add should not, despite the objections raised by these schools, undermine them with parents. What it should, however, mean is a reduction of families applying for schools on the erroneous assumption that schools with the best examination results automatically equate with the best schools for all children. Inclusive schools, under this very different system we propose and lobby for, would be able to showcase the value of their offer in ways that are impossible in the current exam league table driven culture.
Value add analysis arguably shows the genuine impact that a school can make on each individual student. It factors in each student’s starting point and highlights the impact that is made during a student’s education. Schools exist in so many different contexts and, as a result, have students with a large variety of differing starting points. This is particularly acute in the UAE with so many children starting school with English as an Additional Language. The value of this analysis is that it is the most powerful single method to statistically enable communities and parents to make meaningful and honest comparisons of the effectiveness of education across those differing contexts. There are currently a limited number of Principals who are working to try and initiate change in this area that should be credited, although they often work disparately.
It is hoped by raising the profile of AV through the awards, capacity and consensus can be built in this area. It is likely to require investment by schools (for example in CEM). It will also require schools to start having the courage to openly publish data that leaves them open to their peers, parents and government. This is no small ask.
But once one schools start doing this, we believe the floodgates will open – and there will be no going back…. If these Awards can be one part of the jigsaw in achieving just one school, or better, a major school’s group, to start publishing AV results and context, the impacts on children and education in the UAE will be profound.
Within GEMS Education schools, “JC has staggeringly good VA data”.
The mission statement of Jumeirah College grounds VA within the school’s foundations with the stated commitment to “enable students to progress beyond limits.” School Principal, Simon O’ Connor told us: “fundamental to us is the firm belief that one of the most limiting factors in all our lives is expectations – those of others and, in particular, those of ourselves. This is why a focus on value add is so important, both in order that the qualifications students leave the school with are as high as possible but, secondly, and more importantly, that they understand that they must always aim high and never allow themselves to be confined by what others believe they can do.”
Jumeirah College uses GL to set targets in KS3 & 4, and ALPS for A level. GL baselines on students CAT scores, whilst ALPS use GCSE grades. JC use this information initially to set a minimum target grade for a student in each subject. This is very much influenced by the teacher and can be moved up at any time. The ambition is that the minimum target is very much the beginning of the journey and the responsibility of the school is to support the student in meeting and exceeding this ambition.
In 2018, 142 students out of a total of 152 (93%) exceeded expected results. Average value add was 1.27 grades. English VA was 0.95 grades. Mathematics VA was 0.99 grades.
On data we have seen, every subject at JC added value.
Highest performing subjects were French (2.06); Computer Science (1.95); Biology (1.89); Core science (1.85) and History (1.82). Lowest performing subject is Geography which still had a VA score of 0.7
At A’ Level, the ALPS system is designed to be aspirational and works on a system which aims for students to achieve within the top 25%. ALPS at JC is used in both AS and A2.
Given that this is the school makes the most compelling case to take this award, in our opinion, it is important to go into some depth here. All elements of review are given a number between 1-9. This is based on a relative performance calculation. 1= highest performing, 2 = top 10%, 3= top 25% etc. This is then represented on a thermometer as follows:
The analysis looks at a variety of different parameters. These include:
Provider score – % of students who achieve or exceed their challenge targets
‘Red teaching’ – the performance of students who have higher previous attainment
‘Blue teaching’ – the performance of students who have lower previous attainment
T score – an overall provider score which amalgamates all scores above.
T score three-year average – looking for consistency over time
Individual department scores.
At AS Level, Jumeirah College achieved the following:
Provider score = 2, with 85% of students achieving or exceeding their target
Red teaching score = 2
Blue teaching score = 1
T score = 1
T score three-year average = 1
At A2 Level, Jumeirah College achieved the following
Provider score = 3, with 75% of students achieving or exceeding their target
Red teaching score = 3
Blue teaching score = 2
T score = 2
T score three-year average = 2
At AS Level this places JC consistently in the top 1% of providers as measured by value add. At A2, this places JC within the top 5%.
Average value add of the JC SEN cohort at Grade 11 was 1.05 grades in 2018.
Every student achieved a set of grades which exceeded expectations / added value.
The highest performing SEN students achieved over 2 average grades above expectations. Tellingly, the highest performing student in 2018 at JC in GCSE is a SEN student. (7 Grade 9s, 3 A*s and 1 Grade 8 at GCSE.)
These results as a whole we think make this such a strong school measured for VA. This is an inclusive school but results are regularly outstanding.
What all this means for parents is that Jumeirah College achieves for students significantly beyond expectation. A parent looking for a school in which their child, every child, is guaranteed an education in which they can be the very best that they can be – and more – will find no better home in the UAE.
Unlike schools in which the aim is only exam results, Jumeirah College works with the very different needs of individual children to deliver to their unique potential, ambitions and ability. That means a potent combination of different styles of teaching, broad range of subjects and the highest calibre of teaching faculty driven to fire up every child’s interest in/love of learning and their achievement.
The bigger picture is a supportive whole child framework at Jumeirah College that works in concert with these – this level of progress and child engagement comes only with the broadest, most impressive investment in the needs and interests of children and their care.
KHDA Rating: Outstanding
KHDA weakness: Arabic subjects
Subject breadth/meeting the needs of children: Outstanding
Fees: AED 72K – 89K
Number of students: 1126
Age of role: 11 years – 18 years
School type: Private, for-profit
Number of students with SEND:86/7.6% (Above 5% in an international school we rate as outstandingly inclusive for SEND)
Number of Emirati children: 14/1.2% (Above 10% in an international school we rate as outstandingly inclusive to the local population)
SchoolsCompared.com scoring SEM: 60/60
SchoolsCompared.com scoring SEND: 16/20
SchoolsCompared.com scoring Teaching: 20/20
SchoolsCompared.com scoring Assessment: 20/20
SchoolsCompared.com scoring Adaptation: 20/20
SchoolsCompared.com scoring Improvement Planning: 5/5
SEND inclusion, academic inclusion (on the basis of its slipstream): Outstanding
Cultural inclusion: Good
Baseline score: 97.2% across progress reported for children in Science, English and Mathematics, data management, planning, teaching, SEND and Curriculum adaptation.