Statistics get a bad press in education. They are sometimes viewed as the tools of faceless bureaucrats intent on crushing all joy out of teaching. They are seen as the instruments of torture used by Ofsted in the state sector. It is true that statistics cannot tell the whole complex story of a child’s journey through a school. It is true that teaching cannot and should not be measured by statistics alone. Such an approach would lead to the sort of ‘teaching to the test’ that the Chief Inspector of Schools, Amanda Spielman, has lamented.
But nothing in education is, nor should be, binary. Educational ideologues can be as dangerous as political ones. Statistics are not the problem – it is the way in which they are used by some. Statistics used in the right way can tell the most wonderful human story as well as helping to shine a light on part of the truth.
When I asked my colleagues to contribute some stats from their departments to share at our final assembly of 2018 this morning, they approached the challenge in typical South Hampstead style – with academic rigour, energy and, above all, a sense of humour. As you will see below, they are quite quirky, but also paint a picture of just how rich and varied life here is:
- Number of pupils in the Senior School: 665
- Total number of achievements recorded in SIMS since September: 2,195
- Number of minutes spent in lessons this term: 12,500,000
- Number of times Brexit mentioned in the average Politics lesson this term: 13
- Sympathy for Brexit amongst Politics students: minimal
- Number of eyes dissected in Science lessons this term: 50
- Number of pupils who have taken up ‘endangered’ instruments this term: 13
- Number of visiting speakers welcomed this term: 36
- Number of co-curricular clubs and societies on offer each week: 130+
- Number of sports fixtures played this term: 252
- Number of netball goals scored at matches this term: 1,086
- Amount raised for the Waterlow Hall project thanks to the generosity of our community: £2m+
- Number of UK university offers already received by Upper Sixth students: 174
- Number of hours pupils have spent coding: 1,056
- Number of supply and demand diagrams drawn in Economics this term: 7,650
- Number of squares in an orange Maths book: 1,030,000
- Number of alumnae who have attended a reunion or networking event this term: 126
- Number of words written in all report comments this term: 446,665
- Number of hours spent rehearsing Into The Woods drama production so far: 80
- Total number of miles travelled this term by students to and from school: 153,117 (equivalent to over 6 laps of the Earth or 64% of the distance to the moon)
On that note, I wish you all a wonderful holiday, wherever you are travelling, and all my good wishes for 2019.