It's official: if you want to do better at sixth form, Paston is best.
The latest league tables show that for students who want to achieve the best A level and BTEC results they possibly can, Paston Sixth Form College is the best place in Norfolk to be.
[UKPRwire, Fri Jan 22 2010] Paston is top of the CVA (Contextual Value Added) table, which compares the achievements of all sixth form establishments, both state and independent. What CVA measures is how much better students perform, academically, when they leave a sixth form compared to when they arrive. In other words, how much better their actual results are compared to their predicted ones.
Paston's CVA score indicates that, on average, students attending the College achieved one grade higher in all subjects than was predicted when they arrived. (Paston achieved a CVA score of 1033 in 2009. 1030 is the 'magic number' indicating that, on average, the sixth form's students gain a higher grade in all subjects. Paston is the only sixth form in Norfolk to achieve 1030 or more).
"CVA tells you how good the school or college is at teaching, at helping students progress to achieve their real potential," explains Peter Mayne, Principal at Paston Sixth Form College. "To be top in Norfolk is a huge achievement for the College. It's testament not only to the ability of students and the passion of staff, but also to the academic commitment and enthusiasm that the College's ethos and environment generate."
Paston Sixth Form College's academic achievements are now attracting applicants from a huge catchment area covering around 500 square miles. "For example, we now draw many more students from Norwich," says Peter. "Luckily North Walsham is well connected, with excellent train and bus links, and the College is currently working with local transport organisations to help make journeys even easier.
"We certainly are not sitting on our laurels," he adds. "Paston's results have improved year on year – but it's not just about being a centre of academic excellence: we aim to provide the best possible environment for sixth form learning."
If you have any questions about CVA or any other sixth form issues, please feel free to contact Peter Mayne at Paston College on 01692 402334. If you want to know how CVA is calculated you can find out more in the 'Post-16 Guide to CVA' at www.dcsf.gov.uk.
What IS CVA?
The CVA (Contextual Value Added) table is very useful for young people and parents who are trying to choose a sixth form. What they need to know is how good the school or college is at helping students succeed. The familiar league tables don't do this because they are based on average scores for students, so they only measure how well the students do, not how much the sixth form has helped improve their performance.
In other words, with 'average score' league tables, if a sixth form only selects the most academic pupils, and if the students take four, and sometimes five A levels rather than the more usual three, then the institution is bound to get a higher average score.
This is where the CVA tables come in: they demonstrate how good a school or college is at actually teaching, by showing how well all their students have progressed.
Because CVA gives a much fairer measure of the effectiveness of a sixth form, it can give meaningful comparisons between different schools and colleges. It does this by assessing the progress made by the sixth form's students between GCSE and A-level or BTEC (this is the 'value added' bit of CVA). Statistically, a student's performance at GCSE is the best way to predict their A-level grades. A sixth form's CVA score measures how many of its students get better than their predicted grades at A-level and BTEC.
CVA also makes allowances for any factors that might skew the score, such as gender, pupils taking more than three A levels, and the types of qualifications studied – this is the 'contextual' part of CVA.