30/Aug/2014 - Last News Update: 17:03

More schools reach GCSE target

Category: Headlines

Published: 13th Jan 2010 11:18:40

The latest secondary school league tables for England show about 300 schools are below the government's benchmark target for GCSE exams.

More than 50 of these struggling schools, where fewer than 30% of pupils had five good GCSEs including English and maths, have already been closed.

In 100 schools there were 100% of pupils achieving this benchmark.

The lowest performing school was St Peter's Church of England in Chelmsford - where only 8% made the grade.

The highest scoring school was Invicta Grammar School in Maidstone, Kent.

Its pupils averaged 764.5 points apiece, compared with the 214.9 at St Peter's.

The figures also show that 46 of these struggling schools got worse results in 2009 than in 2008 and 15 schools got the same results.

'Tough decisions'

The best A-level performance - for the third year running - was at another Essex school, Colchester Royal Grammar.

Its pupils averaged 1354.7 points. This was slightly less than last year, but still was the equivalent of more than 11 grade As per head.

Colchester, a selective grammar school, describes the academic achievement of its pupils as its "raison d'etre", with exam success its key performance indicator.

The most improved region is London - where 50.4% of pupils achieve the benchmark of five good GCSEs including English and maths. This stood at 29.9% in 1997.

The government has made a point of targeting, in a controversial National Challenge programme, the schools with less than 30% GCSE attainment.

Two months ago the Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, said he expected local authorities to show they could "take tough decisions to do what is right to drive up standards".

He said he was concerned that some were not using the powers available to them, for instance to issue warning notices to schools to improve or face closure or takeover by a more successful neighbour.

These show that a whisker over half of all pupils in England's state schools, 50.7%, attained the benchmark of five good grades with English and maths - regarded as the key to employability or further study.

The government has a target to increase the proportion to 53% by 2011.

The league table statistics also show the gap between girls' and boys' performance has narrowed slightly by 0.7 percentage points.

In 2008, 44.4% off boys achieved five GCSEs A*-C, including maths and English - this rose to 47.1% in 2009. For girls, the figures stood at 52.4% and 54.4% respectively.

New feature

A new feature of the tables this year is an alternative "progress measure" showing what percentage of pupils in each school made the sort of progress they were expected to between leaving primary school and completing their GCSEs.

The tables are loathed by many teachers' representatives.

The government has plans to introduce school report cards. The Conservatives would keep annual league tables - a feature of England's education system that is not present in other parts of the UK.

Schools Minister Vernon Coaker said: "A decade ago, just 35% of children left school with five good GCSEs including English and maths - now with our best results ever it's 49.8%.

"In fact, the average school performance in 1997 is now roughly where we put the absolute bottom bench mark expected - the entire system has shifted up a level and we are determined to keep it moving.

"Thanks to record investment in teachers and schools, coupled with the hard work of pupils, teachers and schools, the improvement in standards means since 1997, over 600,000 more students have left school with at least five good GCSEs."

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BBC News, 2010. More schools reach GCSE target [Online] (Updated 13th Jan 2010)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/10290/More-schools-reach-GCSE-target [Accessed 30th Aug 2014]

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