Shortlisting schools – Performance

Following on from this we can now look at Performance measures to help our decision. By Performance I mean non-subjective measures which are driven by exam results.

The current headline measures used on the Gov site (new version) are:

  • GCSE (or equivalent) Percentage gaining 5+ A*-C grades (incl Maths & English)
  • A-level Average Point Score (APS) (per exam or per pupil)


Let’s cover the easier one – A-levels. GCSE’s are being reformed and new Progress and Attainment measures are being introduced, so I will leave this for later.

Here I mention why the APS per pupil measure may not be meaningful, i.e. it is biased towards quantity over quality.

So, the headline measure of choice is APS per exam entry. So it’s easy, select your schools, go into the 16-18 schools results and sort by APS A-level entry. Well, not quite I’m afraid!

In the top table in the image below you can see some schools ranked by this measure. You can also see the APS per student score in the sixth column of the top table.

Firstly, King Edward’s doesn’t have any entries. This is because they offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) instead of A-levels. So, instead of using the ‘A level results’ dropdown entry we’ll use the ‘Academic results’ one instead; this gives us the middle table in the image. The King Edward’s IB results appear, converted into APS. They now appear as the top-ranked school (in this list).

You can also notice that the highlighted figure for ‘At least 3 A-levels’ is low for Archbishop Holgate’s. This is due to a number of pupils taking vocational courses such as Level 3 BTECs (Sport, IT, etc) instead of A-levels (this is shown in the bottom table, by using the ‘Vocational results’ dropdown entry).

Gov A-level APS new

If you use the ‘Progress’ links you will see a Value Added score. Taken at face value a positive value (number of grades) is good, as pupils are progressing more than the average, between KS4 and KS5. However, a school with a high value may have underperformed at GCSE level, or vice versa. A high VA coupled with a high APS per exam entry score should indicate a high performing school at A-level (+ equivalents).



For 16-18 performance, use the ‘Academic results’ APS per exam entry. Take into account vocational courses if your child is more likely to lean that way. Also note though that just because a child attends a high-performing school it will not guarantee that the child will also be high-performing.


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