New measure calculates difference secondaries make

Another new exam measure was introduced yesterday. This is contextual value added, which assesses the progress pupils make between key stage 2 and 4.

All the top 10 schools on this measure were comprehensives. Yet only two were above average on the proportion of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs, including English and maths. Most appear to have benefited from large numbers of their pupils taking General National Vocational Qualifications. These are worth four GCSEs on the CVA measure.

The Academy of St Francis of Assisi, a joint Anglican-Roman Catholic school in Liverpool run by the United Learning Trust, was top of this list despite only 17 per cent of its pupils gaining five GCSEs passes, including English and maths. However, the school said CVA provided a much better measure of pupil progress, given their starting points.

Phoenix high in west London, another school with a troubled past, came second on the CVA list.

In contrast, Chelmsford county high returned below average CVA figures, even though 100 per cent of its students passed English, maths and three other subjects. It could face a tricky Ofsted inspection.

Margaret Morrissey, of the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, said: "I find all of this very difficult to follow. How Mr and Mrs Average are going to make sense of it, I do not know."

The Government is now looking into introducing a new mechanism, which might rank schools according to the proportion of pupils who progress at least two levels at each key stage.

CVA: the new rating

Top five: Academy of St Francis of Assisi, Liverpool: CVA score: 1,079.

Phoenix high, W London: 1,078. Moreton, W Midlands: 1,071. Salisbury high, Wiltshire: 1,063. Bartley Green, W Midlands: 1,063. Bottom five: Eastbourne comp, Darlington: 919. Birkdale high, W Yorkshire: 934. St George Roman Catholic, Westminster: 935. New College, Leicester: 942. Washwood Heath, Birmingham: 944.

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