Putting the WOW into teaching...
If a school has won one of our subject awards, it has outranked all other English schools in its category (independent, state selective or state non-selective) for the subject and exam concerned: teaching is likely to be very good.
We also give Excellence awards to the runner up schools in each category. The number of excellence awards depends on the number of schools that offer the particular exam and subject: in general we aim to recognise the top 1 percent of achievement.
Note: awards for AS level are given in respect of students who do not take the subject on to A level. That these non-specialists do well and flock to the subject can be a good indicator of teaching quality in highly academic schools, where everyone gets top grades (making comparisons difficult).
How we calculate which schools receive our coveted A level, GCSE or equivalent exam awards for teaching excellence
Each year we give awards to schools to celebrate teaching excellence in individual subjects. We base these awards on our WOW Factor calculations (50 is the average value, and 70 is a very good score) - a combination of:
- Relative popularity
- Relative performance
- Absolute performance
- Percentage taking
NB schools where all pupils get A* will not show up particularly well because it gets hard to distinguish brilliant teaching from brilliant pupils; in such results AS results can be a better indicator of which subjects are best in these schools, because they are for pupils who did not take the subject on to A level, and show a wider spread of grades.
1) Relative popularity. Subjects which are consistently well taught become popular over time, as pupils gravitate towards them. We measure the popularity of each subject relative to similar schools which offer that subject. As a measure on its own it can be a fallible indicator of quality - where a once brilliant department has faded, but pupils are still influenced by past reputation, or where a preference for a particular subject area has become part of the spirit of the school.
2) Relative performance. We compare the performance of pupils in each subject with the grades that they got in all the other subjects that they took. Good teaching should lead, on average, to better performance. Note that some subjects are known to be easier than others, and that on this measure such subjects will always appear to be better taught than they are in reality.
3) Absolute performance. We weight top exam results
3 points for A*
2 for A
1 for B
Then average the result.
4) Percentage taking. The actual percentage of pupils taking a subject.
All the other measures mean little if they relate to a small number of students, so we bias such results back towards the average.