A total of six Doncaster schools have been told to improve as a ‘matter of urgency’ after failing to meet the national benchmark in GCSE performance tables.
Figures released this morning revealed how a total of six of the borough’s secondary schools failed to ensure that at least 40 per cent of their pupils gained at least five C grades at GCSE, including English and maths.
The Doncaster schools that did not meet minimum benchmarks, as set by the Government and based on exam results published in August, were:
- Ash Hill Academy (28 per cent pass rate)
- Armthorpe Academy (29 per cent pass rate)
- Danum Academy (30 per cent pass rate)
- Balby Carr Community Academy (35 per cent pass rate)
- Mexborough Academy (35 per cent pass rate)
- Don Valley Academy Performing Arts College (37 per cent pass rate)
All of the six schools failing to achieve the minimum pass rate are academies, and as such are independent from local authority control.
Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, Cllr Nuala Fennelly, called the results ‘unacceptable’.
She added: “It is vital that the leadership of these schools address this underperformance as a matter of urgency and the Council will support them to do so.
“Notwithstanding that we must also address the wider issue of low educational attainment and skills levels in Doncaster.
"Whilst there are some very successful teachers, schools and training establishments, overall we must do much better if we are to ensure that local people are able to access the new job opportunities that are being created in the borough.
“We will therefore soon be announcing detailed plans for a root and branch review of education and skills in Doncaster, so that we can ensure local children and adults are able to gain the qualifications they need to secure a good job with good wages, and create a bright future for themselves and their families.”
All six schools were contacted for comment.
Ash Hill Principle, Dave Williams said: “In recent years, the performance of the academy has increased significantly and therefore, although we are disappointed in the 2015 results, it is important to note that 28 students attained a grade C in either English or Maths and a D in the other subject.
He added: "This had a significant impact in the overall performance of the academy and if the grade boundaries for English had not been moved affecting a significant number of students, the academy would have attained above the DFE’s 40 per cent benchmark.
"A thorough review of the results has been completed and steps have been put in place to address the issues that were identified.
"Due to this, it is expected that the academy will achieve above the national benchmark in the 2016 examination series.
"The data released today is also inaccurate as some qualifications have not been included, which should have been. The DFE have been contacted in relation to this and the results will improve, once this error has been rectified.”
Headteacher at Danum Academy, Rebecca Staples told The Free Press that problems with the english IGCSE and 'issues' with the maths papers had impacted on the school's results - something she believes will have been reflected in results nationally.
Ms Staples added: "We are confident that results will be considerably better this year because of the improvements we have made at the school."
She continued by saying that the tragic car crash that occurred in Conisbrough in November 2014, which led to the deaths of one former pupil and four current pupils at the school, had affected scores of Danum students and believed that in some cases this had a knock-on effect on GCSE performance.
"As the psychologists predicted, what happened had a devastating effect on a lot of students here. While there are still many affected, progress has been made and we are moving forwards."
Commenting on their results Richard Wood, head teacher at Mexborough Academy, said: “I’ve been in post at Mexborough Academy since September.
He added : "Past results have not been good enough. I know that. “I also know that a huge amount of work is going in from the staff and Wakefield City Academies Trust to ensure results improve.
“I hope the community of Mexborough can already see some of the changes that we have made. Given time, they will have an academy of which they can be proud. I’m determined this will be the case.”
John Innes, head teacher at Balby Carr, said: “We accept we are not where we want to be in the performance league tables.
“I would stress, however, that, with the support from Wakefield City Academies Trust, we are turning things around.
“We can see from our data that students are making better progress. A huge amount of effort is being made by the staff to improve our standards and the students are working hard.
“We are confident we are on the right track; Ofsted inspectors said as such following their last visit in November.”
Today's statistics show The Hayfield School, at Auckley, to be the best performing state school in Doncaster, with 76 per cent of its pupils passing five or more GCSEs at grade C or above.
The best performing private school was Hill House, where 93 per cent of pupils achieved the minimum requirement for GCSEs, as set by the Government.
In the borough, 50 per cent of pupils obtained five or more GCSEs at a grade of C or above compared to 49.4 per cent in 2014.
In total, some 10 schools across South Yorkshire failed to meet the minimum standard of 40 per cent of pupils attaining five A-C GSCE grades, including English and Maths.
Nationally, a total of 250,955 youngsters are being taught in under-performing state secondary schools, the data reveals - down from 274,351 last year.