Some West Suffolk schools celebrate much improved results, while others question maths grades
- Credit: Gregg Brown
Some west Suffolk schools are celebrating “best-ever” GCSE results this year, while others are questioning the outcomes for maths.
Thetford Grammar is challenging its GCSE maths results, which it says are lower than expected.
Headmaster Gareth Price said 77% of students had achieved five A*-C grades including English and maths, but he believed the maths results had dragged the overall percentage down.
“We would have expected it to be in the 90s. For us that is not our normal position.”
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Following their record A-level results last week, King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds has seen the percentage of students gaining the coveted five or more A*-C grades including English and maths increase by 8% - from 55% last year to 63% this year.
Headteacher Geoff Barton said: “Our Year 11 students have done themselves, their parents and our school proud – delivering our best set of GCSE results in a generation.
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“More students have gained the top grades of A/A* (20%) and more have achieved the national benchmark of five A*-C grades with English and Maths (63%).
“As a truly comprehensive and non-selective school, we are delighted that students who struggled at their previous schools are now making significantly faster progress with us in English and mathematics.
“We are especially proud that students from disadvantaged backgrounds this year accelerated their progress by 12%.
“All of this is achieved alongside a rich programme of sporting, musical, drama and international leadership activities – showing yet again that success in the examination hall goes hand-in-hand with success beyond the classroom.”
At West Suffolk College in Bury 70% of 16-18 year old students who resat their English GCSE exam this year have received an A*-C grade, compared to the national average of 9% for resit attainment for grade A*-C for 16-18 year olds.
In addition more than 95% of students of all ages achieved the GCSE qualification.
Head of maths and English Trevor Hewlett said: “Our focussed and personalised approach to preparing students in the areas of English that they found the most difficult whilst studying the subject at school.
“I am incredibly proud of our students. These results have not happened by chance, they are the result of hard work, commitment and dedication. “These students arrived with us labelled as English GCSE failures, but will now leave with qualifications and confidence that will give them firm foundation for the future.
“West Suffolk College is committed to raising aspirations of all our students and ensuring they achieve not only an outstanding A-Level equivalent diploma but also a C or above (or equivalent) in maths and English.
“The results today are a credit to both the English GCSE lecturers, who have worked extremely hard to ensure these students achieved, and to the students, who deserve to celebrate and feel very proud.”
Thetford Academy reported 47% of students achieved the benchmark five or more grades at A*-C with English and maths.
Executive principal Adrian Ball said: “Our students have made great progress this year. I’d like to thank all our staff, parents, and pupils for their commitment and look forward to welcoming many students back to our sixth form in September.”
St Benedict’s Catholic School in Bury is celebrating another strong set of GCSE results. The percentage of students who achieved five A*-C grades including English and maths is 64%.
Headteacher Hugh O’Neill said: “We have awaited these results with a measure of uncertainty, as Government changes to subject content, examinations and grade boundaries all make it harder to predict results with certainty.
“We have noticed some subjects achieving different outcomes compared to previous years. Our students continue to achieve very high total points scores - this year, an average points score of 492 is equivalent to every student obtaining over nine grade As at GCSE.
“Once again, we congratulate our students, their families, and their teachers and support staff, at this school and those who laid the foundations of their success at primary and middle school.”
At Samuel Ward Academy in Haverhill 72% of pupils gained five or more A*-C grades with English and maths.
In a year when greater emphasis has been placed on the importance of pupils achieving the English Baccalaureate, 47% of pupils also met this more demanding measure.
Principal Andy Prestoe said: “The results are fantastic, and a just reward for an awful lot of hard work. The resilience and determination that our pupils have shown in achieving them has been remarkable, and the progress that they have made is impressive. I am delighted for them.
“That this has been realised against a backdrop of more demanding examinations and rising expectations of young people also says a lot about the quality of teaching and support offered by our staff and their parents.”
Head of Cavell House, James Mason, said: “This has been one of our best ever years for GCSE results. There are a great many pupils who have surpassed their expectations. It just goes to show what can be achieved if you aim high and keep trying to improve. I wish them all the best of luck in the sixth form or college and am confident that they will do well in the future.”
Newmarket Academy has had a record-breaking GCSE year.
Students achieved 51% A*-C including English and maths, a 13% increase on last year’s figure.
For the first time the academy has achieved a positive value-added score, which is says validates its commitment to set challenging targets for
Head of school Nick Froy said: “I am incredibly proud of the students and the team of dedicated and committed staff who have worked tirelessly to challenge and support each student.
“This year has been a year of rapid transformation of our academy. These results show improving outcomes for all our students, and we have secured the right direction of travel and strategy to ensure improving results year on year.
“We remain committed to creating the school our community can be proud of and have shown that we can deliver on our promises and our aspirations.”
At Culford School 94% of pupils got at least five GCSEs at A*-C grades, not including Maths and English.
The school said it was their policy not to include the benchmark statistic, which includes English and maths.
Culford’s headmaster Julian Johnson-Munday said: “We are delighted with these excellent results. Our top pupils achieved suites of A* and A grades and the value added achieved across the ability range, on an individual and group basis, was terrific.
“For more than half of our entries to be at the top level in a genuinely all-round school that nurtures the talents of all pupils is a striking testament to the success of our teachers in inspiring pupils; and to the success of our pupils in following guidance and working hard to fulfil their potential.”
At Ormiston Sudbury Academy they recorded their highest results since attaining academy status.
Principal Caroline Wilson said: “I would like to congratulate all our Year 11 students on their results and I am delighted to report a further increase in our GCSE results this year.
“More students are now leaving us with at least five A*-C grades including English and maths, with the figure now standing at 46%. This is a 13 percentage point increase since we became an academy.
“The proportion of top grades has also risen – 37 per cent A* or A grades - demonstrating some exceptional performances from a number of students.
“I am extremely proud of our continued progress and the commitment of all our staff, students and parents.”
In Great Cornard’s Thomas Gainsborough School they achieved 54% A* to C grades, including maths and English.
This was down seven percentage points on last year.
Headteacher Wayne Lloyd said: “Whilst we are disappointed with the headline figure we are not altogether surprised as different year groups have different profiles. There have been some exceptional performances this year and we are delighted with the performance of a great many of our students.”
Bury’s County Upper School is celebrating “another outstanding set of results”.
70% of students achieved the national benchmark of five or more A*-C grades with English and maths.
Headteacher Vicky Neale said: “At the top end, just under a quarter of the year group gained 5A*/A grades and, once again, our students confirmed our belief that a strong all-round education produces excellent results.”
She added: “I congratulate the individual students on the tremendous success behind the headline statistics. Coming just a week after our superb A-level results, and being the fifth consecutive set of GCSEs at 70+%, I would also to thank our staff for their excellent teaching and support to the students.”
This year’s results at Castle Manor Academy in Haverhill includes a significant increase in the number of students achieving A* and equivalent grades.
Overall 40% of students gained grades A*-C including English and maths.
Head of school Vanessa Whitcombe said: “Castle Manor students have worked incredibly hard to achieve their results and we are very proud of them.
“Thank you for the support and hard work of parents and all staff who have contributed to these achievements. While we have achieved some excellent results in areas such as English, music and engineering, the maths results for a small group of students are below those we expected.
“We are looking closely at the reasons behind this, including working with the examination board. We continue to strive for the best possible outcomes for our students.”
Mildenhall College Academy has celebrated its best ever GCSE results with 52% of students achieving five A*-C grades including English and maths.
Principal Susan Byles said: “These results are a record for the academy and represent a spectacular 10% improvement on last year.
“I am immensely proud of our students. They have done incredibly well and have been supported in every step by their families and by the staff of the academy.”
Joyce Hodgetts, managing director of Academy Transformation Trust, said: “The trust is delighted with the significant improvement in the GCSE results this summer.
“A 10% improvement demonstrates the best-ever results for the academy and its students, with some individual outstanding performances by students.
“This is the latest in what has been a very special year for Susan Byles, the principal, staff and students in the academy. The Ofsted inspection earlier this year recognised the hard work of all and gave a ‘good’ school judgement.
“This was then followed by increases in A-level results and outstanding progress in students taking vocational courses last month.”
Stour Valley Community School in Clare saw a marked improvement on last year’s results, with 54% A*-C grades including English and maths, a rise of eight percentage points from 2014.
Headteacher Christine Inchley said: “The progress made by students at Stour Valley continues to be impressive at all levels and these excellent results are a reflection of the hard work and dedication of students and staff at the school.”
Thurston Community College principal Helen Wilson said she was “immensely proud” of her students’ GCSE results.
The percentage of pupils achieving five or more A*-C grades, including English and maths was 49%.
Miss Wilson said: “I am immensely proud of the GCSE results achieved by our students today, not because of their final grades, but because of the progress they have made since their last external assessment point, when they took their Key Stage 2 tests in Year 6.
“At that point, their attainment was below the national average in both English and mathematics. However, despite this low starting point, they have made more progress in their knowledge and understanding across the curriculum than any other recent cohort at Thurston Community College.
“The determination and resilience demonstrated by these results will stand our students in good stead for the future and I wish them every success in their next venture.”
This year, IES Breckland in Brandon had its first set of GCSE results.
40% of students gained the benchmark A*-C measure including English and maths.
Principal Alison Tilbrook said: “We are delighted by the first set of GCSE results achieved by our students. Our students have achieved above expectations and the school has added considerable value to their outcomes, despite numerous challenges encountered.”