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Added value? – Headmaster’s Blog – Wednesday 2nd March 2016 – Ballard School

March 2, 2016

Added value?

Much is being debated through articles in the Press currently about whether or not independent schools ‘add value’ compared to schooling within the maintained sector. The ‘Good Schools’ Guide’ seems to suggest that state schools are ‘catching up’ with private schools whilst other commentators disagree.

The Independent School offer

I believe that independent schools can indeed be distinctive in what they offer, not least because they are largely free from many of the curricular restrictions and expectations within the maintained sector. That’s not say that we can’t learn much from our local schools nor that there isn’t a great deal to be gained by all children through strong independent/state partnerships, such as we enjoy at Ballard.

Recent research by Durham University’s Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) which we use for our baseline assessments, has strengthened support for what we offer, not least academically. The Independent Schools’ Council (ISC) has just released their own report based on Durham’s research and it’s worth quoting a portion here:

Evidence has long suggested independent school pupils enjoy greater ‘academic value added’ and relatively higher returns for their education. But despite much interest in the subject and various other studies over many years around the world, few had given clear, robust and statistical evidence to determine the extent to which differences in academic achievement could be credited to attendance at independent schools alone, without factors such as prior ability and family background being considered.

The researchers employed a statistical procedure to control this bias, details of which are reported in the paper. With these factors taken into account, the researchers note “the evidence from this study suggests similar students achieve more in independent schools than in state school.”

Julie Robinson, General Secretary of ISC said: “Independent schools have always believed that their broad curriculum offer, commitment to excellence and study support provides an academic cost-benefit. Fee-paying parents have the right to expect value for money and it’s always been important that we can demonstrate this.

“We’re acutely aware of the difficulty in comparing different systems of schooling and drawing accurate conclusions, as there is much excellence to be seen in schools of all types. However, this ground-breaking report from such a world-renowned and respected research unit at Durham University really does give us solid ground to say that based on academic results, independent schools are worth paying for.”

At Ballard we put great store by our holistic education believing that this will indeed enhance pupils’ academic performances whilst also stretching, challenging and interesting them – thus equipping all pupils to be better citizens and contributors in the world. It’s thus encouraging to note the main findings of Durham University’s research includes the following:

In the research, commissioned by the Independent Schools Council, it is also revealed:

* Independent education is favourable academically at ages four, eight, ten and 16.

* Independent schooling accounts for a 0.64 of a GCSE grade increase.

* At GCSE independent schools have higher average scores in all subjects – Greatest differences are found in French, history and geography. – Smallest increases are found in chemistry, physics and biology.

* If independent schools were measured on international PISA outcomes, they would outperform the best European nations and be level with Japan and South Korea.

Please see one of the ISC tweets from February 2016.

Adding value at Ballard School

No school can rest on its laurels and must continue to strive after excellence. Last year’s GCSE results and subsequent accolades from the ISA, the British Council, the International Schools’ Award body and CReSTed (amongst much else) attest to the fact that we are continue to do all we can to ‘add value’.

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

We tweet @BallardSchool and to read our Headmaster’s welcome, please visit our website.our website.

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