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Value added – what is it and why do we care?

For over 30 years the Centre for Evaluating and Monitoring (CEM) has produced value-added data for pupils of all ages and for over a decade Leweston has sat within the top 5% of schools in the country in this important measure. However, parents are often unclear about what exactly value-added means and why it is important. Deputy Head, Academic, Mr Whittle, explains. 

Every year as our Year 13 leavers depart, a new group of fresh-faced Year 7 pupils join us. These students are just starting out on their academic journey and will, in five and then seven years, sit public examinations which provide them with a set of results that tell them how well they have done. What many parents want to know, and what the value-added measure was designed to provide, is how much contribution the school has made to those results.   

In reality the calculation is remarkably simple. When pupils start at Leweston they sit a standardised set of national assessments which provide a baseline against which future progress can be measured. The ‘value-added’ is simply a measure of how much better a student does than their baseline data would predict; literally the value that is added to the pupil’s progress by studying at the school.  

Over the past two years over 32% of the GCSE grades achieved at Leweston were one or more grades above baseline predictions. 

There is, however, another less talked about aspect of value-added. Whilst the majority of schools, Leweston included, publish these mathematical measures of pupil progress we talk less about the change that takes place outside of the examination room.  

We all want students to make academic progress, achieve the results they are capable of, get into their first choice university and land the job of their dreams but we also want them to be the best versions of themselves they can be. We want them to develop the characteristics embodied by the ‘Leweston Learner’ programme: to be determined, resilient, independent, inquisitive and confident. We want them to learn to work alongside people different to themselves, to be adaptable, articulate and kind.  

By exposing them to as many opportunities as possible and encouraging them to try everything, regardless of success or failure, they will learn about themselves and others. They will, ultimately, add value to themselves by developing qualities beyond what we can teach them in the classroom or measure in statistics.  

We are incredibly proud of our pupils at Leweston because they test themselves in many different ways. We are equally proud of our teaching colleagues who work so hard to embed this ‘value-added’ mind-set, in the classroom, on the sports field, theatre, music room or art studio.