Suffolk on the up - county rises 20 places in national GCSE results tables

Vicky Neale with students and County Upper School

Vicky Neale with students and County Upper School - Credit: Gregg Brown

Suffolk has moved ahead of the national average for GCSE results and leapt almost 20 places in a league table for teenagers getting five or more good grades.

Vicky Neale with students and County Upper School

Vicky Neale with students and County Upper School - Credit: Gregg Brown

Provisional results see the county move from 124th out of 151 local authorities to 107th – and 0.6% above the national average of 52.8% for students getting five or more A*-C grades, including English and maths.

While Suffolk’s results are improving, nationally standards are falling – last year the figure stood at 53.4% last year and the previous year 59.2% of students reached the benchmark of five A*-C grades, including maths and English.

Suffolk’s result is 3.9% lower than the average for the East of England, and 0.4% and 4.2% lower than that of Norfolk and Essex respectively.

Suffolk County Council, responsible for improving standards in the county, hailed the results which include state schools and special schools as well as academies, free schools and independent schools not in its direct control.

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Lisa Chambers, cabinet member for education and skills, said the results reaffirmed that the council’s education policies were right and are raising attainment.

“It’s extremely encouraging that these provisional results show Suffolk above the national figure,” she said.

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“It is also very pleasing that progress has continued in the core subjects of English and maths.

“These latest figures show that students, parents and schools are working well together to achieve positive outcomes for our young people.”

Kesgrave High School Head Teacher Nigel Burgoyne is pleased his school got good scores.

Kesgrave High School Head Teacher Nigel Burgoyne is pleased his school got good scores. - Credit: Archant

There were improvements in expected levels of progress in English and maths – Suffolk climbed from 110th to 75th in maths and from 119th to 87th in English.

Graham White, secretary of Suffolk’s NUT, said the results were testament to the hard work of teachers, parents and pupils.

“We have to congratulate pupils for some really good results but we have to bear in mind that results are not the be-all and end-all. They are a ticket for the next stage, but we must not forget that the academic route is not necessarily the right route for all pupils, vocational [results] are not included in the statistics.”

In Essex, the percentage of pupils reaching the benchmark rose from 56.5% last year to 57.6% – the equivalent of about 170 extra pupils achieving the ‘gold standard’ GCSE grades.

A total of 36 schools in Essex improved their results – with the biggest rises being at Thurstable School Sports College and Sixth Form Centre in Tiptree – a 25% rise, from 48% to 73%. Colchester Academy improved from 37% to 57%.

Essex climbed from 85th to 53rd in the local authority rankings.

Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s cabinet member for education and lifelong learning, said: “I am delighted to see the county’s schools bucking the national trend and continuing to achieve improved results.

“As a council, we remain committed to ensuring pupils receive the best possible education.”

Kesgrave High School Head Teacher Nigel Burgoyne is pleased his school got good scores.

Kesgrave High School Head Teacher Nigel Burgoyne is pleased his school got good scores. - Credit: Archant

The Department for Education has published the figures for the first time in October in order to give parents more information about high schools before the October 31 deadline for Year 7 applications.

Final results are expected in January.

County Upper School

Good GCSE results at County Upper School in Bury St Edmunds are expected to hit 70% when final statistics are published in January.

Headteacher Vicky Neale said it was important for parents to realise yesterday’s results were

provisional – with many schools

expecting better grades in three months time.

Mr Bacon with students at Thurstable School

Mr Bacon with students at Thurstable School - Credit: Archant

The school, which is part of the Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust and not directly controlled by Suffolk County Council, saw 66% of students achieve five or more A*-C GCSE grades, including English and maths, in the initial results.

These do not take into account re-marked exam papers and late submissions.

Mrs Neale said: “We are very, very pleased; 70% is well above the local and national average.

“This is at the same time as all of the changes in education and we are still making 70% or higher year-on-year.

“At the end of the day it’s not about the type of school – some academies do very well, and some local authority schools also do very well.”

Kesgrave High School

Kesgrave High School’s headteacher has called on the Government to give Suffolk schools a better financial deal if they are to continue to improve.

Students at Manningtree High School

Students at Manningtree High School - Credit: Archant

Nigel Burgoyne made the appeal following what he described as the school’s “best-ever GCSE results”.

The academy became the joint-second best state-funded school in the county when its results for students getting five or more good GCSEs, including English and maths, jumped almost 20% – from 55% to 72%.

The Department for Education allocates about £4,200 per pupil in Suffolk for their education – around half of what is made available for children in some London boroughs.

Mr Burgoyne said: “[It’s] a big issue for the county to be fairly funded with other schools in counties which are part of the F40 group.

“We just do not have the resource that they will have in other parts of the county.”

The F40 education group represents the 40 worst-financially supported counties in the country.

Education bosses warned in the summer that some schools would have to lose teachers because they were inadequately funded.

The Government said schools had been given more time to prepare to meet costs, including rising staff pay and pension contributions.

Thurstable School

The headteacher of one of the most improved schools in Essex said ‘years of hard work’ were now paying off with the latest results.

Thurstable School in Tiptree saw its provisional results for students achieving five or more A*-C GCSEs, including English and maths, rise by 25% – from 48% to 73%.

Headteacher Miles Bacon said: “The results across Essex have improved which is really positive to see. Our GCSE results are catching up with the quality of what we do here. I am really pleased with the excellent progress which is being made. It’s about long-term work with considerable improvement of teaching. It’s great to see disadvantaged pupils making as much progress as other children.”

He said there were signs that pupils in Year 10 would continue to raise standards.

Manningtree High School

Results at Manningtree High School have improved by more than 10% in two years.

The north Essex school celebrated this year’s provisional results which show that 64% of students gained five or more GCSEs at A*-C grade including English and maths.

The school is a converter academy, which means it has more of a say on the curriculum and staff’s salary levels.

Headteacher Sally Morris said the school was “one of the highest-performing comprehensive schools” in north Essex.

“Behind that single headline figure [of 64%] are some fantastic results in terms of attainment and progress in maths, science and humanities, to name just a few subjects,” she said.

“English results are gaining a deserved reputation for being unpredictable and very variable year on year: ours have held up well and are comfortably above national averages.”

What are your thoughts on the GCSE results? Should we be celebrating or is there still more work to do?

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