Suffolk: 663 pupils did not reach expected level in English

MORE than 650 pupils in Suffolk did not reach the expected level in English following changes to GCSE exams this year, it can be revealed.

The number of children in the county making “expected progress” in the subject stood at 61.5%, a drop of 9.1% (equating to 663 pupils) on last year’s figures.

The statistics, which also reveal that 50% (down 4.7%) achieved five or more grade A* to C grades, suggest that Suffolk was one of the counties hardest hit by the GCSE fiasco.

Yesterday headteachers said the results could only be explained by a change in grade boundaries while union bosses claimed the exam process had been “politicised.”

Geoff Barton headteacher of King Edward VI school in Bury St Edmunds, said: “What else could it be? It is an extreme change that affects pupils, schools and now the county. It has been devastating for Suffolk, we are second from bottom in the eastern region.”

Mr Barton, a council member of the Association of School and College Leaders, which is currently seeking a judicial review of the situation around the results, said the statistics also raised other questions.

Mr Barton said: “Some counties were not hit and some were badly hit. Why is it? Was it due to moving boundaries? Or was it just some markers or statistical fluctuation?”

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He said it was possible that the Department of Education (DoE) would now start “asking questions” or even send a team to Suffolk.

Graham White, secretary of the Suffolk NUT, said: “Sadly, the figures do not surprise me. The decision to alter grade boundaries was politically driven and what they were trying to prove was that schools are not performing well enough. The DoE will no doubt say, ‘If you want to improve results then you need to turn into an academy’. It is nonsense.”

Mr Barton said the legal challenge has been submitted to the High Court but might not be considered until Christmas.