The Schoolsmith Score. Because parents compare schools.
It has always been difficult to compare schools. Yes, there are league tables based on exam results. But that’s just one criteria. And we know that there’s more to education than exam results. There are Ofsted reports, but they’re more concerned with regulatory compliance.
What if you could compare schools across lots of different criteria that included, say, exam results, subjects taught, sports, the arts, extra-curricular, pastoral care, facilities, teaching, pupil participation…? Something more holistic, that reflected all the other good stuff that goes on in schools. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the drum roll for…the Schoolsmith Score; a tool to compare schools across 50 criteria.
The principle is very simple. If a school offers more and better across some of those 50 it will have a higher Schoolsmith Score. And a higher Schoolsmith Score indicates that the school might provide your child with a better education.
For example, if a school teaches more subjects, has more sport, more music, more drama, more community engagement, more clubs, more SEN provision, enters more competitions, has a more visible Head, more enthused staff, a more involved parent body, more useful pupil progress monitoring, better catering…the chances are that it will provide a better experience for your child than one that doesn’t.
Here’s a summary.
What is the Schoolsmith Score?
- It’s a simple score that indicates whether a school offers more than the standard, the norm or the average.
- It’s based on an evaluation of 50 different elements of the school’s educational provision weighted by what parents think is important.
- To have a score, the school must be doing something extra, something more. So far, 3,300 schools have a Schoolsmith Score.
- The higher the Schoolsmith Score the more the school is doing to provide your child with a better education.
What do I do with the Schoolsmith Score?
- Parents can draw up a shortlist of schools based on a broader evaluation of what constitutes a good educational provision. The Schoolsmith Score is no substitute for visiting the schools, but at least it helps you draw up a shortlist.
- Together with the articles in the “What to look for” section of the website, parents can make a more informed choice about the right school for their child.
- School leadership teams can use it in their school development plans.
How is the Schoolsmith Score derived?
- There are two components. The first is a score for each of the 50 different elements of a school’s educational offer (see “What to look for” section). The scoring is very simple and reflects whether the school does a bit, does more, or does a lot of the element, however defined. The scores are a subjective judgement based on evidence submitted by the school.
- The second component is a weighting to each of those elements according to how important they are to parents. The weighting data comes from market research.
Can the Schoolsmith Score change?
The Schoolsmith Score is new, and it will evolve. It is in its early stages and will become more refined over time. The most likely causes of a change in score (up or down) are;
- The school makes improvements according to what the Schoolsmith Score is telling them.
- I decide that certain components become standard and no longer differentiate better schools from average.
- I decide that certain criteria need to be included, or, more likely, refined.
- Parental priorities change.
Why have a Schoolsmith Score?
From my experience, current school comparison measures aren’t enough for parents;
- League tables based on academic results are too narrow. They are one measure, not 50. As we know, education is more than an exam result.
- Ofsted reports, while necessary and useful, are a measure of safety and regulatory compliance. They don’t really facilitate comparison. 90% of schools have a Good or Outstanding rating.
- Department of Education or Association data gives information on number of pupils, religious practice, gender mix, age range of pupils. Useful, it tells you about the style of school, but not whether one school is more likely to provide a better education than another. For example; is a big school better than a small school?
- Parent review websites, while a good idea, usually have too few reviews. And they don’t compare schools.
- School websites, prospectuses, handbooks and visits. Useful, and a must. But not comparative.
- Some parents do make school decisions on the grip of the Head’s handshake, the shininess of the computer room or where the crowd is going.
Is the Schoolsmith Score perfect?
Er, no. But it’s a step in the right direction.