In the opinion of Norwich School, league tables should come with a health warning! They have some value in indicating the general level of academic performance if one uses the right criteria over a period of time but they need to be taken with more than a pinch of salt in assessing the true worth of a school.
The official Government statistics for schools, published every January, do not include certain qualifications followed by Norwich School and many other leading independent schools. A prominent example is iGCSE English which usually has the effect of giving the school 0% in the assessment of 5A*-C, including Maths and English. We are happy to report that this is not the case; indeed, the actual figure is usually 100% or thereabouts! We prioritise choosing the syllabus for each subject which most suits our pupils and our healthy figures for university admissions show that our decisions do not adversely affect our pupils.
In our view, the 'points per pupil' measure which is used for GCSE and Advanced Level is misleading, particularly for academic independent schools, because the figure can be raised by qualifications such as General Studies which do not count towards the more competitive university offers. Norwich School gives priority to quality rather than quantity: we focus on academic subjects which provide appropriate preparation for competitive university courses and do not put whole year-groups in for marginal qualifications to boost cumulative points totals.
‘Points per entry’ is a better measure of quality because it concentrates on how well pupils did in each examination which they took. Many Norwich School pupils aspire to competitive courses and universities; consequently, they receive university offers which specify only three grades at A2 Level and the School is comfortable that its curriculum prepares pupils well for this process.
The league tables produced by newspapers before Christmas are generally agreed to provide a more helpful indication of academic schools’ public examination performance than the Government tables in January because they are ranked according to the proportion of top grades achieved in the examinations taken. IGCSE is included, while General Studies, Critical Thinking and non-academic subjects tend to be excluded at A Level.
Measured by the A*/A grade percentage at A level and GCSE, Norwich School is the highest achieving school in Norfolk and Suffolk. However, we continue to set ourselves high standards in the less tangible areas of an all-round education, too.