Suffolk pupils set new GCSE record

GCSE performance across Suffolk has produced record results for the fourth consecutive year, figures published today reveal.The percentage of pupils gaining five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C was 57.

By Danielle Nuttall

GCSE performance across Suffolk has produced record results for the fourth consecutive year, figures published today reveal.

The percentage of pupils gaining five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C was 57.3% in 2004 compared to the national average of 53.7%, data published by the Department for Education and Skills reveals.

It is the fourth year figures have topped previous best marks in the county.

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More than 97% of young people now leave school in Suffolk with at least one GCSE or equivalent vocational qualification compared to 95.9% nationally.

The GCSE performance tables include value-added scores, which show how much the Suffolk schools have boosted pupils' attainment between Key Stage 3 (age 14) and GCSE or GNVQ (age 16).

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The value-added scores of pupils at Lowestoft's The Benjamin Britten High School, means the school has retained its position from last year as number one in Suffolk.

Westbourne High School, Mildenhall College of Technology, Leiston Community High School and the Benjamin Britten High School were each among the country's most improved secondary schools, according to the proportion of pupils gaining five A*-C grades.

Debenham High School is ranked in the country's top 200 state schools, both selective and non-selective, at GCSE or equivalent, ranked by percentage of candidates getting at least five A*-C grades.

However, Lowestoft College falls within the bottom 200 state schools at A-Level or equivalent, according to points score per candidate, while Holywells High School in Ipswich falls within the bottom 200 state schools at GCSE level, ranked by the percentage of students getting at least five A* to C grades.

Ipswich School was ranked top A-Level school, according to points score per entry, while the top ranked A-Level state school - again using points score per entry - was Northgate High School, in Ipswich.

Neil Watts, headteacher of Northgate High School, said: “To be honest we were delighted with the results last year and it ties in very well as we have just had a full Ofsted inspection.

“They did a separate report on our sixth form and it was judged outstanding. The inspectors found out what the results showed last year and we are very pleased.

“It's been a positive two to three months really. We are now very, very thorough in monitoring progress and working with the students to monitor their progress throughout their two years in the sixth form.”

Ian Galbraith, headmaster of Ipswich School, said: “My thoughts really are that performance tables show one aspect of what a school is like, but they do not reflect all sorts of things.

“I would very much like to think we have a lot of good schools in the mainstream and independent sectors and it's nice to see success affirmed in this way but there are all sorts of other things that good schools are doing.

“I'm always pleased when individual pupils do their best and get what they have worked towards. Aggregate figures for a school are what a lot of boys and girls have done. One really takes pride in the particular boys and girls who have worked hard despite difficult circumstances.

“It's not a question of taking pride in the position in the league table, it's looking at individuals who have done well.”

Among other Suffolk schools in the country's top 200 state schools at A-Level, ranked by average points score per candidate, are Kesgrave High School, St Benedict's Catholic School in Bury St Edmunds, and Farlingaye High School in Woodbridge.

The worst truancy rate within a Suffolk school was Kirkley Community High School

Headteacher John Clinton said: “There has been a dip in the attendance rate and an increase in absences. We're certainly aware of that.

“We have within the school improvement plan for last year and this year ways to address that. That enjoys the confidence of Suffolk LEA.

“We would be optimistic over the next year or two that the attendance rate will actually improve significantly.”

In 2003, the percentage of pupils gaining five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C was 57% - this was a further increase from the 2002 figure for Suffolk of 56.5%.

Tony Lewis, a member of Suffolk County Council's executive committee, said: “I would like to congratulate all Suffolk students on their GCSE results.

“I know that young people have put in a considerable amount of hard work to achieve these qualifications, and they are to be applauded. I would also like to thank the teachers, parents, governors, schools and all in the education community involved, for the support and encouragement they have given to students.”

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