English and maths turn the tables

12th January 2007 at 00:00
The new requirement to include two core subjects to calculate their league position has hit some rising secondaries hard

MORE THAN 100 secondaries slid 1,000 places or more down national GCSE league tables yesterday as new rankings that include performance in English and maths were published.

The figures showed that one in six secondaries - 539 in total - had a quarter or fewer pupils achieving five or more good passes when the core subjects were included. These schools will now be under pressure to raise results.

Fifteen of the 24 academies that published results were in this position, including one, Marlowe academy in Ramsgate, Kent, where only 5 per cent achieved the new benchmark.

The tables showed that only 45 per cent of pupils achieved the core subjects benchmark, heaping fresh pressure on the Government. This was only one point up on last year. The proportion of pupils achieving five or more good passes in any GCSE or vocational equivalent rose from 56 to 59 per cent.

For some schools the new measure brought better news - 301 improved their positions by 500 places or more.

The tables - which revealed that secondaries often thrive on one statistical measure while struggling on another - were condemned by a parents' group as potentially "incomprehensible".

They featured three main measures, which in many cases painted vastly contrasting performance pictures. And Ministers pledged this week to add yet another statistical indicator.

The tables showed that the school with the best results in England on one indicator was only "coasting" on another that is the main statistical judgment used in Ofsted inspections.

Some schools with as few as one in six pupils achieving five good GCSEs, with English and maths included, were rated the best for pupil progress.

One of these was an academy, St Francis of Assisi in Liverpool, which became the first privately sponsored state school to top a national ranking.

Grammar and private schools dominated the new tables. Top-ranked was Chelmsford county high for girls, one of 141 secondaries with a 100 per cent score.

But some schools have lost out dramatically. The TES analysed the difference between their performance now and before the new measures were introduced.

Madeley Court in Telford, Shropshire, was the biggest loser. It had 82 per cent of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs, but the figure has collapsed to 16 per cent.

Other schools had hauled themselves off the bottom of the tables only to slide back down on the new. Parkside community college in Plymouth had improved its GCSE score from 15 to 58 per cent since 2002. On the new scale, it has dropped to 6 per cent.

Kingswood high, Hull, had 62 per cent on the old measure, but 7 per cent on the new. The Ridings school, Halifax, once dubbed the worst in Britain, but which seemed to have been turned round, found that the inclusion of core subjects had pushed it down to 4 per cent.

New-look tables

Top five schools:

Chelmsford county high for girls, Essex: 100%; average points score: 738.1; Newport girls' high, Shropshire: 100%; 709.5; Newstead Wood school for girls, Kent: 100%; 676.7; Peniel academy, Essex: 100%; 657.3; Colyton grammar, Devon: 100%; 651.4.

Bottom five schools

Temple school, Rochester, Kent: 2%; Oldborough Manor, Maidstone, Kent: 3%; St Luke's, Southsea, Hampshire: 3%; The Ridings, Halifax, West Yorkshire: 4%; The River Leen, Nottingham: 4%; The Lafford high, Lincoln: 4%.

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