Isle education chiefs hit out at “unfair” exam tables

Axholme Academy principal Joe Sellars.
Axholme Academy principal Joe Sellars.
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Leading Isle education chiefs have raised concerns about secondary school performance tables saying they are not a fair reflection of results.

The Department for Education performance tables show how schools performed at Key Stage 4 in 2013-14. This year they have been based on first entry, which means the first time a student took a GCSE. Headteachers say it is unfair to compare the recent results to those of 2012-13 as these were based on best entry – the best GCSE result a student achieved in more than one sitting.

Joe Sellars, principal at North Axholme Academy in Crowle, said: “I am very pleased with our 2014 GCSE results. Sixty six per cent of our students left the academy with 5 or more GCSEs graded at A*-C and this is close to our best ever. It is a pity that so much confusion has been caused by the DfE changing the criteria for measuring school performance whilst students were mid-way through studying for their GCSEs.

“DfE did the equivalent of moving the goalposts at half time by deciding that for performance tables only the results of the first entry for a GCSE exam for a given student would count, not their best entry. Our aim is to ensure that our students leave us with the very best set of results possible because this is so important for their futures. We took the decision to continue to enter some students for some exams early because we know that the feedback from their results often results in them working on weaknesses and doing even better at the end of year 11.”

South Axholme Academy principal Sarah Thompson said: “We are proud of our students’ achievements at GCSE, especially in light of the numerous changes that affected this year group. Our first entry and best entry results were the same, which is something that we worked hard for and are very pleased about.

“We are not complacent and continue to strive to ensure all students achieve the very best that they can, across all subjects, regardless of ability. Our latest set of results will only help with recruitment of students for our new 6th form, where we will be able to show teaching and learning both pre and post-16 are of an equally high standard.”

Councillor Rob Waltham, cabinet member for people said: “Our schools are working hard to ensure students make excellent progress. This year, 59 per cent of pupils at South Axholme Academy achieved five or more A* to C GCSE grades (including English and maths). Axholme Academy’s and South Axholme Academy’s expected progress were higher than the national average: 68 per cent in English and 67 per cent in maths for Axholme Academy and 67 per cent in English and 71 per cent in maths at South Axholme Academy.

“It is fantastic to see progress being made. Axholme Academy’s disadvantaged attainment gap is narrower than the national average.

“We are fully committed to improving education outcomes and these results both in the Isle and across North Lincolnshire demonstrate the dramatic improvement in the quality of secondary age education in recent years. We will continue to invest in our schools and provide pupils with fantastic learning experiences.”