SCHOOLS in Essex are continuing to improve at GCSE level, according to the latest league tables published by the Department for Education.

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The average percentage of pupils getting at least five A* to C-grades at GCSE including English and maths is 58.9%.

The results rank the county 70th nationally – up two places compared to last year.

Colchester County High School for Girls and Colchester Royal Grammar School were among the best performing in the country.

At both schools, 99% of GCSE pupils achieved the required Key Stage Four grades, placing them in the top 100 nationally.

The top performing school in Essex overall was King Edward VI Grammar School in Chelmsford, which achieved a clean set of results.

The A-level achievement rates in Essex have also improved this year, placing the county 20th in the country compared to 25th last year.

Essex County Council’s cabinet member for education Stephen Castle congratulated all teachers, parents and pupils for their hard work and achievements.

He said: “We are aware the changes made to the GCSE English grade boundaries have affected the results in some of our schools.

“We understand that many schools are encouraging pupils to take re-sits, and pupils are performing very well in these.

“We are committed to working with schools to ensure that we achieve our aspiration of a truly world-class education system in Essex.”

However, Jerry Glazier, general secretary of the Essex division of the NUT, said he is “sceptical” about league tables and said it was important to “look behind” the figures.

“The union is quite sceptical about league tables,” he said.

“Being at the bottom can mean all sorts of things.

“Teachers are always trying to get their students in a position to achieve the best possible exam results. I don’t know a teacher who doesn’t do that. The union is always asking how as a society we can take responsibility for students who are from much more challenging backgrounds which undermine their ability to access the education that’s provided for them.

“These results are positive for Essex but we have to look behind that. League tables are a narrow judgement. It’s better to visit schools.

“What’s more important are schools having inspirational and effective leadership, valued staff who are recognised and rewarded. That way kids get a better deal.”

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