Pupils hailed as GCSE results improve

YOUNGSTERS throughout Suffolk have achieved record GCSE results for the fifth year running, figures published today reveal.The percentage of students gaining five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C was 58.

YOUNGSTERS throughout Suffolk have achieved record GCSE results for the fifth year running, figures published today reveal.

The percentage of students gaining five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C was 58.3% in 2005 compared to a pass rate of 57.3% in 2004, according to data released by the Department for Education and Skills.

It is the fifth year in a row figures have topped past marks in the county and is an improvement on 2003's 57%, which was a further increase from Suffolk's 2002 figure of 56.5%.

The GCSE performance tables include value added scores, which show how much the Suffolk schools have boosted pupils' attainment between Key Stage 2 (age 11) and GCSE of GNVQ (age 16).

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However some education chiefs have questioned their use claiming they are counterproductive, out of date and misleading.

The value added scores of pupil's at Debenham High School means it is the best performing state school in Suffolk and replaces Lowestoft's The Benjamin Britten High School at the top of the list, which this year slipped to 16.

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The leading fee paying schools in the county, judged by value added scores, were Framlingham College, which ranked first, followed by St Felix College in Southwold, Ipswich High School, Woodbridge School and the Royal Hospital School in Holbrook.

Westbourne High School, Ipswich, Mildenhall College of Technology and Samuel Ward Art and Technology College in Haverhill are among the country's most improved secondary schools, according to the proportion of pupils gaining at least five A* to C grades at GCSE.

Terry Lewis, headteacher at Mildenhall College of Technology, said: “We became a specialist college three years ago, which gave us the money to change our curriculum, mainly in IT, which is now compulsory and we can afford to have a computer for every pupil.

“We are doing very well, but we are not complacent and our next challenge is to raise the number of pupils with both maths and English among the five GCSEs grade A-C, which is how the league tables are going to be calculated.”

John Knighton, deputy headteacher at Samuel Ward said: “Although we are pleased with this year's results, when 60% of pupils got five grade A-C GCSEs, it has been a gradual improvement each year, and the way it looks at the moment with the current year 11 pupils, there should be another increase next year.”

Vicky Neale, of Bury Upper School, which along with Thomas Mills High School in Woodbridge and St Benedict's Catholic School in Bury, was among the top 5% of schools nationally according to key stage two value added measures, said: “We value the progress of every child, no child left here with nothing and 99% got five GCSEs and 100% got four or more. It's looking after every child and knowing the students well and the students having confidence in the teachers.”

Holywells High School in Ipswich and Charles Burrell High School in Thetford are in the bottom 200 state schools at GCSE or equivalent ranked by the percentage of candidates getting at least five A*-C grades, while Charles Burrell is also in the bottom 200 for A-level performance -ranked by points score per candidate - along with Lowestoft College.

The top A-level school in the county, also based on points per candidate, was judged to be Farlingaye High School in Woodbridge while Ipswich High School and Ipswich School came second and third respectively.

Meanwhile Farlingaye, St Alban's Catholic High School in Ipswich and Northgate High School in Ipswich were within the top 200 state schools nationally for A-level results ranked on points score per candidate.

Headteacher at St Alban's Dennis McGarry said: “We are absolutely delighted that the school is in the top 200 in the country when it comes to A-Level point scores. It reflects a lot of hard work on behalf of students and staff.

“Equally the fact that our value added scores through key stages two to four puts us in the top 25% of schools nationally is excellent news. We will continue to work hard for year on year improvement.”

Ipswich High School and Farlingaye were also in the top 200 nationally for schools of all types at A-level or equivalent, ranked by points score, while Ipswich High School along with Thetford Grammar School were in the top 200 nationally at GCSE, ranked as a percentage of candidate achieving A*-C grade.

Valerie MacCuish, headteacher at Ipswich High School, said: “We are very happy. We had a record breaking year for GCSE and A-Level results and it seems to have been reflected in the tables.”

Thomas Mills High School at Framlingham improved its value-added score and remained in the top 5% of schools nationally in that category.

“The value-added score is particularly important to us as it shows the improvement students are making from when they join the school up until the time they leave,” said headteacher Colin Hirst.

Another school moving in the right direction is Leiston High School that also improved its value-added figure that now stands at 1014.8.

Headteacher Ian Flintoff was pleased that the school's consistently high standards had been recognised in the league tables.

“The school has been recognised for improving the performance of students across all ability ranges and this is very pleasing,” he said.

Kirkley Community High School in Lowestoft has the worst truancy rate of all schools in Suffolk and was named along with Chantry High School, Ipswich, Deben High School in Felixstowe, The Denes High School, Lowestoft, and Rosemary Musker High School in Thetford as having some of the worst truancy rates in the country.

Kirkley high said it had taken measures to improve attendance rates. There was an improvement over the past 12 months with the school having 8.5% of half-days lost through unauthorised absences in the 2005 league table compared with 7% this year.

The school is currently working with the local education authority and other organisations in a bid to improve the situation and meet Government attendance targets.

But Chris Harrison, National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) national council member for Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire, said the tables were crude and divisive.

And Roger MacKay, Ipswich association secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), labelled the tables the “enemy of education”.

Eastern Counties - GCSE performance

a. The average percentage of pupils getting at least five A* to C-grades at GCSE or equivalent

b. The local authority's average points score per pupil at GCSE or equivalent

c. The percentage of half-days missed due to unauthorised absence (truancy).

a b c

Cambridgeshire 58.8 364.2 1.1

Suffolk 58.3 362.2 1.7

Essex 56.6 363.0 1.1

Norfolk 52.6 341.7 1.1

Eastern Counties - A-Level performance

Ranked by the average A-Level points score per candidate.

Cambridgeshire 295.5

Essex 282.7

Suffolk 281.2

Norfolk 255.9

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