Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Scottish school league tables 2012

Do we have to keep making the same point every year? Like last year, and the year before, and the year before that, the league tables show that not only is there no causal link between things like 'faith' and 'ethos' and exam results - there isn't even a correlation. Social class, on the other hand, is shown to be very strongly correlated to academic performance.

 However, in Glasgow there are two schools that seem to buck this trend: one that promotes Gaelic and the other that excludes boys. With regards the former, there's a significant degree of overlap with social class. A working class Gaelic speaker I have never met. This alone doesn't explain the very strong performance of the Gaelic school though. With regards to the school that excludes boys, on the other hand, the opposite is the case - with the overwhelming majority of the roll being working class Catholics and Muslims.


Update: Having taken a closer look at the Glasgow figures, perhaps a little qualification is required.  With regards to the Gaelic school, perhaps the overlap with social class is enough to explain much of its strong performance.  At 10% it has the lowest proportion of children receiving free schools meals in Glasgow and this figure is also below the national average.

With regards the girls only school, it remains likely that its status as a single-sex school is a more significant variable than religion since the mean score for Glasgow as a whole would tend to suggest that the latter has little impact.  In Glasgow, denominational schools actually score slightly lower (-2%) than non-denominational schools - with denominational schools having slightly more (0.7%) of their pupils receiving school meals.

I also missed the very strong performance of Hillhead High School, which scored around 10% higher than the Scottish average in Higher results, yet has nearly three times the number of pupils receiving free school meals than the national average.  There are a number of possible explanations for this but none of them have anything to do with religion, Gaelic or excluding boys, obviously.

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