SCHOOLS have hit back at performance figures released by The Guardian newspaper this week, saying they are out of date and do not give a true picture of education in the area.
Statistics showing how well sites are performing at GCSE present something of a bleak picture for children in Burton and South Derbyshire, but schools are keen to state that the information shown does not include the most recent results, which show a rise in attainment.
The table, published on the national newspaper’s website yesterday, shows that attainment at a number of schools – the de Ferrers Academy, Pingle School and John Port School – have been declining, while others are said to have ‘variable’ performance records.
Steve Allen, principal at de Ferrers, told the Mail the trend for decline had been caused by a change in grade boundaries for some subjects, but that this year’s results had seen a turn in fortunes.
He said: “This year has been quite a turbulent one, with changes to the GCSEs, but I am delighted to say we have had our best ever results.
“69 per cent of our students achieved five A* to C grades including English and maths. It’s a big jump and it is where we should be.”
The figures released by The Guardian, which have been collated with the Open Public Services Network and Cambridge Assessments, show that 54.7 per cent of pupils sitting their GCSEs at de Ferrers achieved five A* to C grades in 2012. This followed a percentage of 58 per cent the previous year, and 55 the year before that, which explains the downwards trend.
Paulet High School, in Stapenhill, was seen to have a variable set of results, with just over 59 per cent of students last year managing the five important A* to C grades.
It followed a percentage of 44 per cent the year before, and 60 per cent in 2010. This year, 65 per cent of pupils managed the top grades.
Deputy head teacher Ian McArthur said: “We have made a lot of progress.”
He added that trends were set over a three-year period, so by next year Paulet should have a better outlook.
Along with the grades achieved, schools have also been grouped in terms of their success in improving performance compared with other schools of a similar size.
Paulet and the nearby Blessed Robert Sutton Catholic Sports College were the only two in this area which were classed as above average in this area.
Mr McArthur said: “I am very pleased with this. Improving attainment is really what we want to end up with.
“Looking at the figures coming from around Burton in generally, it’s a good picture.”
Paget High School, Business and Enterprise College, in Branston, Abbot Beyne School, in Winshill, and John Taylor High School, in Barton under Needwood, all have an average impact on attainment, according to the figures, and William Allitt School, de Ferrers Academy. Pingle School, Granville Sports College and John Port School were below the average in terms of impact.
Last year, the amount of young people achieving five A* to C grades decreased nationally for the first time in a decade. At 58.56 per cent, the figure was only marginally lower than it had been the year before, but it was a remarkable dip considering the previous trend.
The drop was blamed on harsh marking by exam boards marking English papers, as many youngsters who had been expected to achieve higher marks opened their results to discover they had missed out on predicted grades.
Schools in this area were among those affected by the issue, which exam chiefs said was down to nothing more than a shift in grade boundaries.
Referring to the issue as ‘a fiasco’, Mr Allen from de Ferrers said: “You can’t really compare year on year, but this year they rose the standard again, and despite those challenges I am pleased to say that with my team, wonderful students and parents we have gone up in the results. We achieved that and I am happy with that.”
However, just two of the schools in this area – Pingle School and Granville Sports College in South Derbyshire – were classed as below average in terms of their achievement, with just 41.3 per cent of pupils at Pingle School, in Swadlincote, managing to make the grade.
The amount of students achieving the grades had gone down since the previous year.
Acting head teacher Viv Sharples told the Mail: “Achievement at the Pingle School in 2012 was disappointing. The national situation with marking of GCSEs in particular English was a major factor.
“The school is now well placed to make significant and rapid progress.
“We have had a complete overhaul of our systems and procedures and have new monitoring and quality assurance procedures in place which will impact on our standards.
“Progress towards targets of current year 11 pupils is good and set to be on or above predictions for the examinations in 2014.
“Teachers, parents and carers are working together to support our year 11 pupils from the start of the academic year to ensure that they do not waste a minute in terms of learning opportunities.”
The statistics have been published by The Guardian following the success of the newspaper’s popular university guide.
Figures given are the most recent which are available, according to the newspaper.
Results from this year will not become available for comparison until next January.