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New CaSPA Principal sees value in UK model of school evaluation

Posted on 21 February 2017
New CaSPA Principal sees value in UK model of school evaluation

Above: David McFadden in May 2015 while Head of the Oratory School in Westminster, UK

School league tables should show the amount they "value add" the difference a school makes to students' achievement the new headmaster of prestigious Catholic boys' school Aquinas College says.
David McFadden, former head of London Oratory School which taught the sons of former British prime minister Tony Blair, said Australia should consider adopting a measure similar to one used in Britain to show the contribution schools made to student improvement.
Mr McFadden said if schools had to be compared based on their Year 12 achievements, they should at least show the value they added to pupils who did not have an academic head start.
"In Britain, they create league tables based on the value added, not on attainment," he said.
"It would be really interesting to have that model here, particularly the schools that are attracting very high academic kids, because it gets more difficult to move them up."
He said about 95 per cent of students from London Oratory School, which was a state-run Catholic boys' school, were offered places at top universities.

"The school down the road might get 50 per cent of their students into university but their value added was much higher than ours because they were taking these kids from way down, and doing a terrific job, and they deserved to be on top of us," Mr McFadden said.
Under the British system, children's progress across the five years of secondary school are measured by comparing their results from tests taken at the ages of 11 and 16.
Mr McFadden said while he was not a big fan of school league tables, he understood the need for accountability.
"We live in a post-economic society where people want value for their dollar," he said.
Before his move to London, Mr McFadden spent 20 years in WA where he was head of secondary school at Aquinas and headmaster at Christian Brothers College Fremantle.
He said the British model of education was "all about the head" but he preferred Australia's more "holistic" focus on children's all-round physical, social and academic development.
Mr McFadden said WA schools' recent focus on students' emotional wellbeing was a trend that had also swept through British schools.
"To be fair, it's a response to a real need to help the youth of today deal with the difficulties of losing their childhood so early," he said.
"We're lucky in a faith school that we've got this set of Gospel values that helps provide a framework for life."


From: The West Australian, February 10, 2017

Tags: Catholic Secondary Principals Australia

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