Results improve across Suffolk and Essex, but some school concerns persist

A-level results 2015. King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds.

A-level results 2015. King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Thousands of pupils across Suffolk and north Essex picked up their GCSE exam results yesterday with some excellent results across the region.

Both counties saw rises in the percentage of pupils getting five or more A*-C grades, including English and maths.

Suffolk went from 52 to 56%, while Essex improved by 2.2% – from 56.5% to 58.7% compared to last year.

More than 60% of schools in Suffolk individually saw rises in that benchmark grade, according to provisional results. More than 7,500 students took their GCSEs this year in Suffolk.

Lisa Chambers, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for education and skills, said: “We are particularly pleased to see a substantial improvement in results for disadvantaged pupils across Suffolk; this rapidly closes the gap in attainment for this group.

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“This remains an important focus of our action plan for school improvement. The overall rise in students meeting our expected attainment levels is testament to the hard work and commitment of heads, governors, teachers, parents and, most importantly, students.”

Across all of Essex, almost 15,000 youngsters took GCSEs this year. Early indications show that more than 40 schools saw an increase in their overall results.

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Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s cabinet member for education and lifelong learning, said: “These excellent results are the culmination of a lot of hard work and I am thrilled the efforts of the county’s pupils have been rewarded. I wish them all the very best of luck for the future, whatever their plans and ambitions.” However, some Suffolk schools did record disappointing results. Saxmundham Free School and Beccles Free School, established two years ago by the Seckford Foundation, will hold a review of their results in September.

At Saxmundham, 28% of 47 students achieved five GCSEs at A*-C including English and maths. At Beccles, 39% of its 49 pupils achieved the benchmark grades.

Critics have argued the Trust opened free schools in areas with no existing lack of places, and at a cost to the taxpayer.

The Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust said it was disappointed with the overall statistics and recognised the schools had not done as well as they wanted or expected.

However, the trust said both schools had added “considerable value” to their pupils’ education since opening, and that there were some fantastic results for individual students.

Dr Robert Cawley, principal and chief executive of the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust, said: “Each of our schools has a shared sense of ambition and a broad and balanced traditional curriculum.

“They are underpinned by strong pastoral care and an exceptional breadth of enrichment activity which challenges each student to aspire to personal and academic goals.”

Several schools across Suffolk and north Essex said they would be challenging their GCSE maths and English results.

Caroline Haynes, principal at Tendring Technology College, said: “There are disappointments brought about by the raising of the grade boundary for a C in maths by seven marks, and we are also very concerned with some inconsistent marking in the exam papers for iGCSE English.

“We will be asking for a significant number of papers to be re-marked. “These issues are national, and I hope that irrespective of the result of individual schools that headteachers will join together in condemning a system that has become a lottery.”

Exam board, Cambridge International Examinations, which is behind the iGCSE English exam, said schools should expect results to fluctuate yearly – with the same “robust and well-established” procedures in place from previous years.

A spokeswoman for Pearson, responsible for the Edexcel GCSE maths paper said “rigorous processes” were in place to ensure examiners are properly trained.

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