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This school is the best...? Exploring 'Inputs' as well as 'Outputs'

As you start the process of choosing a school for your child, it is likely that you will simultaneously feel bombarded by opinions but lacking information. You will hear lots of anecdotes, horror stories and rave reviews. However, you know this is all opinion, so as diligent parents, you will probably check-out the information published by government bodies - one of which is performance on academic assessments. The outputs.

I have LOTS of thoughts about this data - which I will post about in the future. However, one thing I always do when looking at this data - the outputs - is to start by finding the inputs first.

Let me explain using an analogy.

Imagine there are two hospitals in the local area. Hospital A publishes fantastic results. Almost everyone who is admitted comes out cured. On social media the hospital receives glowing reviews. Hopital B on the other hand looks quite poor in comparison. The results are average and while some patients come out cured, others do not make a recovery. The forums are mixed about this hospital.

With these outputs, it is easy to make the following conclusions:

Hospital A is better

Hospital A will cure my illness

Hospital A has the best doctors

I really don’t want to go to Hospital B!

However, if we look at the inputs, our opinions may change.

Hospital A has strict admissions criteria. It is only available to people under 45, who have never smoked or touched alcohol and have no family history of complex illness. Each year, patients on roll have to run a marathon in under 3 hours. If you do not pass these tests, you are not allowed treatment.

Hospital B on the other hand has no barrier to entry. Anyone can attend - in fact, all in the local community are encouraged to attend. There is no criteria to stay in this hospital - all patients are treated, no matter how trivial or serious.

Do you draw the same conclusions? Is Hospital A really the better one? Does Hospital A have the best doctors? Which one do you want to attend now?

I will leave you to transfer the analogy to the school system…

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