Middle school claims disputed

A TUTOR at one of the world's leading universities has entered the fray over Suffolk middle schools by claiming GCSE results will not be improved if they are scrapped.

A TUTOR at one of the world's leading universities has entered the fray over Suffolk middle schools by claiming GCSE results will not be improved if they are scrapped.

David Bainbridge, an admissions tutor at St Catherine's College, Cambridge, said the reasons put forward by Suffolk County Council to change the education system in Suffolk do not hold water.

He claimed the report put forward by the council describes small differences in comparison groups as significant but neglects to realise both schools achieve equally in GCSEs.

In a letter opposing the change, Mr Bainbridge said: “Both systems must clearly be directed towards attainment in GCSEs as these are in many ways the standard benchmark for future employers and higher education institutions - GCSEs are crucial in this discussion.


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“The data shows that A-C attainment is very slightly higher in two-tier schools, and A-G attainment is higher in three-tier schools - the total points are the same in the two school types.

“These data strongly suggest that there is no measurable difference in GCSE attainment yet it is used to claim that there is.”

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He also said other factors which may affect the differences between schools such as socio-economic status have been ignored and should be looked into more deeply.

But Patricia O'Brien, portfolio holder for children, schools and young people services, said she was confident in the research that has been carried out and felt there were no gaps in the work that has been done.

“There is always going to be opposition to change but we have to look at Suffolk education as a whole. We had to look at whether the current system would take us 40 years down the line - it is a changing world and we have to change with it.

“We had this independently researched and we've had it verified by three universities, York, Durham, and Cambridge, and I'm very satisfied with the work that has been done.”

Meanwhile, governors of Needham Market Middle School have said they believe the conclusions drawn from response to the original consultation documents are unreliable because they were not distributed to enough people.

They said only a very small number of parents, teachers and governors at their school received the documents at all.

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