Good progress from most GCSE students

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All but one school in Crawley saw students make average progress or better by the time they completed their GCSEs last year.

Performance figures published by the Department for Education on Thursday (January 19) showed only Thomas Bennett Community College recorded a Progress 8 score that was below the national average.

Hazelwick, Oriel and St Wilfrid’s all achieved above average progress, while Ifield Community College (ICC) and Holy Trinity were average – the former missing out on an above average score by just 0.01.

Progress 8 – along with Attainment 8 – is the government’s new floor standard for secondary schools. No matter how many A*s students achieve in their GCSEs, the Progress 8 score will be the one that matters to their school.

The system is a way of measuring the progress made by pupils from the end of primary school to the end of secondary school.

Each child’s progress is measured across a selected set of eight subjects and then compared to children all over the country who achieved similar results in their Key Stage 2 SATs.

When it came to the percentage of students earning grade C or better in English and maths at GCSE, only Oriel and Holy Trinity beat the national average of 59.3 per cent.

Holy Trinity saw 68 per cent of students hit the mark, with Oriel close behind at 67 per cent. Hazelwick fell just short with 58 per cent, St Wilfrid’s had 57 per cent, ICC 53 per cent and Thomas Bennett 38 per cent.

Rob Corbett, principal at ICC, said: “From our perspective, the Progress 8 and Attainment 8 scores were really pleasing as they show the great improvement at ICC over the last couple of years.”

He added: “I believe the Progress 8 score is the best measure of school effectiveness as every student and every subject counts, much better than the A*-C measures seen previously, which disregarded the achievements of many students. This measure makes all schools have to really work hard to add value to student outcomes. We are delighted that it shows we are getting better year on year.”

Michael Ferry, of St Wilfrid’s said: “Overall, I was extremely pleased and very proud of the progress made by our students as a whole.

“Although the new Progress and Attainment measures will, as stated by the DfE, take some time to ‘bed in’, it is refreshing to see such a high profile given to the progress of students rather than just the attainment level of the past through five A*-C grades, including English and maths.

“The way that the new Progress 8 measures give a sharp focus to the progress of every student can only be good thing for all of our children as we seek to ensure that they gain the best possible grades regardless of their starting point in secondary school.”

The Rev Chrissie Millwood, head of Holy Trinity School, said: "As always we are very proud of our students and are pleased with many aspects of the recently published figures.

"As a school we place particular importance on ensuring that students achieve in the core subjects, which we believe will open doors for them to the future. We were therefore particularly delighted with the data in regards to the number of students achieving a good pass (C or above) in both English and maths."

As well as the performance data, the Department for Education published information about the percentage of students who stayed in education or went into work after their GCSEs.

In Crawley, the majority of schools achieved the national average of 94 per cent, with only Ifield and Thomas Bennett Community Colleges falling short. At Ifield, the figure was 88 per cent, at Thomas Bennett it was 84 per cent. The latest figures were for those leaving Year 11 in 2014 – and headteachers said it was “disappointing” no more recent numbers were available.

St Wilfrid’s School, in Southgate, saw 94 per cent of its Year 11s stay on or go into work, and Mr Ferry had clear ideas about what could be done to ensure youngsters did not fall off the radar.

One was the need for more money to ensure post-16 courses could be delivered in a way which “served the need of the population”. Another was for schools to develop a working relationship with local businesses.

St Wilfrid’s has been working with PricewaterhouseCoopers for several years, creating work experience and internship opportunities, which Mr Ferry said had had “a positive impact” on post-16 students.

At Holy Trinity, 97 per cent of students went into the sixth-form or directly into work. The Rev Millwood said: "We are very proud of this and believe it reflects the significant investment that we make, as a school, in each individual student throughout their time here in terms of careers guidance and preparation for transition."

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