Primary schools in Essex improving

ESSEX primary education outperformed that of both Suffolk and Norfolk last year, according to the Key Stage Two league tables published yesterday.The county managed a SATS aggregate for 11-year-olds of 244 - up on 237 last year.

ESSEX primary education outperformed that of both Suffolk and Norfolk last year, according to the Key Stage Two league tables published yesterday.

The county managed a SATS aggregate for 11-year-olds of 244 - up on 237 last year.

The figure, reached by amalgamating marks per pupil in the fields of science, English and mathematics, compared with 233 in Suffolk and 237 in Norfolk.

Within the Essex league tables a number of schools made dramatic gains in ranking, with Barnes Farm Junior School in Chelmsford rising from 184th place to 31st.


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“These are results we had been hoping for,” said headteacher Tim Barrett.

“Last year we had an issue with the marking of the English tests. But that is not to say the staff here don't work particularly hard - they are very committed, to the extent that the caretaker has to kick them out of the building.

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“Nearly half of our children get a level higher than expected, which is good for us in terms of standards.”

Robert Collins, headteacher of Alresford Primary School, said the small size of the school meant that year-on-year figures were particular prone to swings.

His school went from 129th place last year to 318th in the current league tables.

“We are a small school with a small cohort. Our year groups range in size from about 15 to 30.

“Because of that a small difference in children's performances each year can make a big difference to the rating.

“Some years are better than others and no doubt we'll be better again next year.”

Adrian Hayes, headteacher of Our Lady Immaculate Catholic Primary School in Chelmsford, said he was pleased his school took the top ranking of the county's primaries, up from number 54 last year.

“Obviously we are delighted. It is a great reflection on the whole school community.

“There is a great feeling of support at the school and we try to bring the best out of each child.

“There are different ways of ranking schools but we are glad to be top of the poll.”

Angela Konarzewski, headteacher of St John's C of E primary in Colchester, said that when using contextual value-added data her school came top of the tables.

When only considering the raw data, however, it ranked at number six.

“That is in terms of progress made between key stage one and key stage two,” she said.

“Our position is partly to do with the fact there was a very broad cohort of children. We also worked on improving the standards of writing.”

Millfields Primary School in Wivenhoe jumped from position 91 last year to number two on the new Essex tables.

“I think it is testament to a dedicated staff team and to children who really want to do well and reach their personal bests,” said the school's acting head Natalie Sansom.

However Stephen Handscombe, headteacher of the Cherry Tree Primary School and Speech and Language Unit in Colchester, said he did not think that ranking schools was helpful in judging their quality. His school came 350th in the league tables.

“I object to ranking. It's all right for those at the top, but if you rank this school with an average one you are not comparing like with like.”

Mr Handscombe said that his school catered for many more children with special needs than other schools.

“To compare this school with one down the road that has a lot less children with special needs is a falsification.

“As far as I am concerned the progress they make here is very good as are the results for the individual children. The staff could not work harder.

“It is difficult when we are being compared to schools with totally different profiles.”

Essex County Council gave a warm welcome to the Key Stage Two results, which are published by the Department for Education and Skills.

Stephen Castle, cabinet member for education, said: “The council is absolutely delighted by the Key Stage Two tables.

“They show that schools across the county are above the national average at level four and above in all three core subjects - English, mathematics and science.

“There have been some outstanding results at all levels and across all three subjects.

“Improvement in some areas has been very dramatic. For example, the rise in the percentage of pupils achieving level four or above in English is now three times the national average.

“These results are testament to the outstanding efforts of the pupils, teachers and parents of Essex, and it is my privilege to congratulate them.”

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