Essex school league tables under fire

THE primary school league performance tables out todayare "worse than a waste of time", an Essex union chief said.Jerry Glazier, general secretary of the Essex branch of the National Union of Tecahers(NUT), said he was opposed to the tables, which he claimed distorted and damaged schools.

THE primary school league performance tables out todayare "worse than a waste of time", an Essex union chief said.

Jerry Glazier, general secretary of the Essex branch of the National Union of Tecahers(NUT), said he was opposed to the tables, which he claimed distorted and damaged schools.

He said nothing new could be learnt from looking at isolated statistics and warned the numbers, whether good or bad, were demoralising teachers.

Essex's primary schools scored better than the national average in English, maths and science, the three subjects assessed in the Sats tests at Key Stage two of the national curriculum.

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Mr Glazier said: "These tables are really like shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic in how comprehensive a guide to parents they are.

"There are so many other factors that parents need look at when choosing a school such as its ethos and its contribution to its community – the tables are worse than a waste of time."

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An example of the indication of the "wild fluctuations" was seen at Dedham Primary School, which last year topped the tables.

But this year it slipped to 141st place in the overall rankings. Headteacher Carolyn Clayton said she did not want to comment because she had not yet seen the results because she had been bailing water out of a leaking tank in the school's attic.

Mo Oliver, headteacher at Home Farm Primary School, Colchester, said she was pleased that the school had moved up 195 places in the tables to 67th place in the LEA.

"These results are a tribute to the educational partnership we have established between the parents and teachers and are a wonderful reward for the hard work of our whole staff."

Kate Moore, headteacher at Birch Church of England School near Colchester, saw her school move up 277 places in the tables since last year to 41st place in the LEA.

She said: "We put it down to quality teaching and consistent good practice across the board, including incredibly good support from parents."

Bradfield Primary School, Manningtree, moved up 208 places to 145th in the tables. Headteacher Debbie Griggs said: "They need to be seen in context, such as the background to where the school is, but naturally we are delighted by this year's performance."

Robert Emuss, headteacher at Coppins Green Primary School, Clacton, was dismissive of the league tables after they showed his school had fallen 152 places to 309th place in the LEA.

He said: "The results just change year on year depending on the children. Last year we had some good children take holidays as the tests were taking place, so that affected the results."

Heathlands Church of England School, West Bergholt fell 197 places to 218 after reaching 21 in the tables last year.

Headteacher John Watts said nothing significant had changed at the "permanently over-subscribed" 360-pupil school during the year, but the 12 full time teachers had last year to deal with some children who had special needs.

He said: "Even so, 11% of that year group actually gained grammar school places, but the tables don't reflect that, but I'm not worried about it."

Great Bentley Primary School dropped 266 places to 331 after its 65th place last year. Headteacher Diana Cleaver said: "During last year we had a cohort of children that we needed to work very hard on with their social and academic skills. A lot of them came from outside the catchment area and we were faced with a lot of challenges."

Chris Holmes, headteacher at Kendall Church of England Primary School, Colchester, which fell almost 200 places to 272nd place, said: "It really depends on the cohort of children that we get each year. Some years we get a mixed bag with a group needing special attention, that affects these statistics."

Clare Reece, headteacher at Copford Church of England School, Colchester saw her school move up 179 places to be ranked 14th in the LEA.

She said: "The value-added is especially pleasing as it shows what we have added to the children while at our school."

At St Mary's Church of England Primary School, Ardleigh, ranking fell from 23 to 295. Headteacher Janet Cassels said: "There was a different cohort with different abilities and different strengths this year. The English tests were particularly demanding but the class got what we expected and the results don't really reflect how well they have done."

Headteacher of St Andrew's Church of England Primary School, Marks Tey, LeliaBerkeley said she was "delighted" that its ranking had risen to 19th place from 170th last year.

Highwood Primary School, Chelmsford, appeared in the truancy tables because it was in the bottom 200 schools in England ranked by percentage of half days missed by pupils due to unauthorised absence.

With just over 30 pupils at the school, an average of 6.6% of all half days were missed during the year.

Headteacher Louise Hourihan said: "We are only a small school and that 6.6% is just not comparable to other schools in the category.

"We did have a small group of pupils who were absent in the year, but are working very hard on it and we would like some support at county level."

The acting headteacher at Frobisher Primary and Nursery School, Clacton, which came in the bottom 200 English schools for the number of pupils achieving level four in the core three subjects, was not available for comment.

Carey Bennet, head of the schools service at Essex County Council said: "We are particularly pleased with the big improvement in English at Key Stage two and the county is also ahead of the national average in maths and science too.

"The provisional results for secondary schools Key Stage three tables, which will be published on December 17 indicate slight improvement in English and science, but a big improvement in maths."

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