Two Things to Ask Every School

Selecting the right school for your child can be a daunting task. There are thousands to choose from, each promising different locations, courses, teachers, and outcomes. This week, Cherwell College offers its perspective on what parents should be looking for in any school.

Look for value-added

League tables are often misleading. They have a tendency to be self-fulfilling and do not give a complete picture of what it is like to be a student at each school. For example, schools that select on ability are already choosing the brightest students who are most likely to achieve the highest grades. Those schools will therefore always show as having excellent outcomes. What really matters is the value-added. This is the measure of how much the student improves at that school. Imagine school 1 takes on a student who is predicted to get a B grade. In the end, they achieve an A grade. The student can be said to have improved by one grade.

Imagine now school 2 which takes on a student predicted to get a D overall, ie, nearly a fail. But at school 2 they end up achieving a B. They have improved by 2 grades. On paper, school 1 looks better with the A grade student but in reality school 2 has greater value-added.

Therefore any parent would do well to check the value-added of each school. At Cherwell College, we pride ourselves on excellent value-added. With our specialist one-to-one and small group teaching, we expect students to improve by 2 or more grades from when they first join us.

What are the class sizes?

This question is seldom asked but is hugely important. Some schools have classes of thirty students, others have groups as low as ten. Ask yourself how your child likes to learn. Do they prefer larger groups, in which they require the confidence to ask questions in front of their peers and are prepared to go at the pace the teacher sets for the class? Or do they prefer small groups where they can dictate the pace of the lesson themselves? If a student is not suited to that particular class size, then they cannot be expected to achieve the highest grade.

At Cherwell College, we offer one-to-one and small groups of not more than 6 other students. We believe that this is truly the best way to learn as it allows students to work at their own pace, ask as many questions as they like, and focus on the topics with which they need the most support. Ours is a truly personal approach. This way of learning is seen as the gold standard of UK education – in fact, it is what the universities of Oxford and Cambridge pride themselves on too!