More schools reach GCSE target
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.
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.
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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Harvard CitationBBC 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 23rd Apr 2014]
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With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
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