Disappointment at this year’s GCSE performance tables extends beyond results to changes made by the Department for Eduction which some headteachers feel have left them with too-low scores.
The heads of several schools are angered by changes to the way tables are formulated. These include taking into account only a pupil’s first attempt at a qualification, a measure brought in to end the practice of schools repeatedly entering pupils for exams to boost their ranking.
These alterations to the process play a part in one Grantham school landing at the bottom of the table, says its CEO. Only 17 per cent of pupils at West Grantham Academy St Hugh’s achieved five or more A*-C GCSEs or equivalent (including English and maths), significantly down on last year’s figure of 38 per cent.
Academy CEO Trudy Brothwell said: “There were some real success stories for individual students at GCSE last year. The overall results for the academy were, however, very disappointing.
“Much of the downturn can be attributed to the significant changes made at short notice to the exam process. We have put strong processes in place to address the issues and welcome the support of the Diocese and other larger trusts who are contributing to this work.”
Also seeing a drop in the table in pupils achieving five or more A*-C grades is Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School. The grammar school reached just 91 per cent, compared to 100 per cent last year.
Headteacher Graham Burks said: “Whilst we were delighted with the performance of our Year 11 students last summer we were disappointed with the 91 per cent 5A*-C EM figure published in the league tables, which does not reflect the actual outcome for our students, but is a result of the fact that the Minister for Education changed the rules part way through the year.
“Like many other schools, in the past we have used an early entry policy with some students to provide experience and boost confidence. The previous year KGGS achieved 100 per cent by the 5A*-C EM measure.
“By far the best measure of secondary school performance is the Best 8 Value Added score which includes English and Mathematic. This reports how far students have been enabled to travel, how much value has been added over a broad range of subjects and is a far better indicator of school achievement as it relies on all students and staff achieving well.
“By this measure, a schools ability to add meaningful value, KGGS was ranked 1st in Lincolnshire and is celebrating being in the top four per cent of schools in the country for adding value to its Year 11 students last summer. The percentage 5A*-C including English and Mathematics is not an intelligent measure. The value added measure is.”
Meanwhile, King’s School came in at 98 per cent compared with 99 per cent last year, Walton Girls’ High School was at 55 per cent compared with 64 per cent last year, and Priory Ruskin Academy came in at 48 per cent, up by one per cent on last year.
WGHS principal Chris Horrocks said: “We are delighted to see our position in the performance tables in terms of pupil progress in terms of their best eight subjects, placing Walton in the top five schools in the county, with the top four places taken by grammar schools.
“We are also delighted that the performance tables clearly show that, as in previous years, Walton continues to hold its own academically compared to national data. The tables also indicate that students continue to be above or in line with the national five A*-C targets (En/Ma) performance measure.
“Walton has always offered students a wide breadth of opportunities both academic, sporting and within the arts and our ethos of developing the whole-student is renowned.
“We are all committed to ensuring that Walton continues to be fully inclusive school and students of all abilities, whether gifted and talented or with particular needs, benefit hugely from the range of opportunities we offer. I was, therefore, particularly pleased to see the reduction in the gap of achievement between the disadvantaged students compared to other students, and this will continue to be a focus of our academy.”
In the rural areas, Charles Read Academy in Corby Glen achieved 44 per cent compared with last year’s 32 per cent, and Sir William Robertson Academy in Welbourn came in at 46 per cent compared with 45 last year.
SWRA headteacher Mark Guest said: “In a year when GCSE results have dropped by seven per cent across Lincolnshire and nearly six per cent nationally, we are delighted to have delivered an improvement in our results at GCSE in 2014. This is down to a huge amount of hard work and commitment from our staff and students.”