Duncan Ellerington – Dover College

We have had the pleasure of meeting with Duncan Ellerington, the Deputy Head Academic at Dover College in the UK. Dover College provides some of the best value added results in Kent, but what does this mean? And why is it important? We were there to find out…


Our interview with Mr. Ellerington

What does the term Value Added actually mean and how is it calculated?

The Value Added represents the extra grades the pupils obtain due to the excellent teaching provided in a school. Each pupil sits yearly tests to measure the progress made compared to other pupils of similar ability. A bright child will be compared to other bright children – so the result does not depend on how bright a child is but on how much they improve, whatever their ability.

At Dover College we test all the pupils at different stages in their school life. The year 9 test gives us a predicted score for GCSE. We aim to add as much value as possible to that grade thanks to our teaching and learning methods. We add about ONE WHOLE GRADE extra at GCSE.


How is this different from the results based ranking of schools, which a lot of Education Consultants and parents overseas will be familiar with?

Results based rankings do not show the true picture of how efficient a school is at teaching the pupils in its care. A selective school may not add any value to its pupils and still get ‘A’ grades because someone who is clever to start with won’t have to work as hard and obtain good grades.

Dover College is not a selective school and we aim to add value to all our children in many ways, including by developing their confidence- whether they are very able or not. I can think of an example of a girl who first scored 8% in the maths test she was given on arrival to Dover College but three years later she obtained a C grade in Maths. It was a massive achievement her, an excellent example of value added, yet in terms of results based ranking it looks quite poor.


Does this mean that schools that have a good Value Added score are a good choice for every type of student?

It certainly is the case for Dover College. We add value to all abilities, the very bright and the less able.

How do you think schools manage to achieve a high Value Added score?

We believe in the combination of growing pupils’ confidence and by promoting Independent Learning. If you believe in yourself you achieve a lot more. That confidence is built through positive feedback and recognition of achievements, not just in the classroom but also in all the co-curricular activities which take place in a boarding school such as Dover College.

The independent learning aspect is very important. It’s not just what you learn; it’s how you learn it! We offer timetabled study skills lessons to all year groups in the Senior School. Add to this a huge amount of hard work and dedication from the teachers and you have an ideal combination to grow in value added terms.