Suffolk: ‘No short cuts to quality’ says headteacher on GCSE league tables

Stop students celebrate GCSE results with head of year Mr Cann and headteacher Mr Hurst. Stop students celebrate GCSE results with head of year Mr Cann and headteacher Mr Hurst.

Thursday, January 23, 2014
6:29 PM

The headteacher at Suffolk’s top performing state school has called for more focus on teaching and less structural reform saying there are “no short cuts to high quality outcomes”.

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Phil Hurst, headteacher at Thomas Mills High School in Framlingham, has welcomed Suffolk’s five place year-on-year improvement in the national league tables published yesterday.

But with the county still languishing well below the national average –ranked 137th out of 151 local authorities – he has called for greater focus on the fundamentals of education and less of the restructuring that has happened over recent years.

“Schools are best when they are focused on excellent teaching and learning,” he said. “When there are new schools opening, some closing and a lot of restructuring going on it takes the focus away from what matters, which is the pupils.”

The percentage of pupils in Suffolk achieving five or more GCSEs at A*-C grades now stands at 54.6%, which is 4.6% lower than the national average of 59.2%.

Although that marks an improvement on the 8.5% gap which opened up last year, Mr Hurst fears there is much work still to be done.

“There are no short cuts to high quality outcomes,” he said. “Nothing is more important than all children experiencing excellent teaching with qualified and motivated teachers.

“No restructuring on its own will ever achieve that outcome.”

At Thomas Mills, where Mr Hurst says he “continually makes it clear that teaching, learning and achievement are the priorities” 83% of pupils achieved five or more GCSEs at A*-C grade.

The results showed a 10% improvement on last year’s league tables, placing Thomas Mills at number four overall in the county, the highest ranking state school in Suffolk and well above the national average.

“I’m delighted for the pupils, teachers and the parents for what are an outstanding set of results,” Mr Hurst said.

“I congratulate the hard work of pupils and staff who thoroughly deserve this success.”

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