the vast majority of Leeds’ secondary schools saw the number of students getting five good GCSEs, including English and maths, fall last summer after a major shake up of the exam system.
New league tables published today by the Department for Education showed that more than 30 state schools across the city saw the level of students achieving this benchmark fall while only four saw increases.
Nationally the number of secondary schools considered to be under-performing has doubled with the fall being blamed on an overhaul of the exams.
Every education authority in Yorkshire saw a drop in the number of pupils achieving five good GCSEs, including English and maths, compared with last year’s tables.
In Leeds the figure fell from 57.3 per cent based on 2013’s exams to 51 per cent based on last summer.
The Department for Education (DfE) insisted that the changes in the results is down to two key reforms - a decision that only a teenager’s first attempt at a GCSE would count in the annual performance tables, and a move to strip “poor quality” vocational qualifications out of the rankings.
But the increase in the number of failing schools across the country is likely to cause concerns among school leaders, who have voiced fears that schools will be considered failing not just because of changes in the system but also”volatility” in last summer’s GCSE results.
The results for Leeds show some schools have experience major drops in the numbers of students making the grade.
LEAGUE TABLES IN FULL
Click the links to view tables for every school in the Leeds and Wakefield districts, from the Department for Education
The new league tables, published today, are based on data provided by the DfE and show how every school and college in England performed at GCSE, A-level and other academic and vocational qualifications in 2014.
They also indicate that dozens of secondaries, the majority of them private schools, have seen their results plummet to zero because some combinations of English GCSEs and some IGCSEs do not count in the rankings this year.
State secondaries are considered to be below the Government’s floor target if fewer than 40 per cent of their pupils gain at least five C grades at GCSE, including English and maths, and students are not making good enough progress in these two core subjects.
In total, 330 schools fell below the benchmark this year, up from 154 last year.
Schools that fall below the threshold could face action, including being closed down and turned into an academy, or being taken over by a new sponsor.
However the DfE insisted that the floor standard is one of a number of factors that schools are judged on and falling below the benchmark does not automatically mean that a school will face intervention.
It also claimed that the two major changes to the exams system - which schools were told about around 18 months ago - do not affect pupils individual exam results.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “For too long pupils were offered courses of no value to them and schools felt pressured to enter young people for exams before they were ready.
“By stripping out thousands of poor quality qualifications and removing resits from tables some schools have seen changes in their standings.
“But fundamentally young people’s achievement matters more than being able to trumpet ever higher grades. Now pupils are spending more time in the classroom, not constantly sitting exams, and 90,000 more children are taking core academic subjects that will help them succeed in work and further study.”
Mrs Morgan added that the Government has “raised the bar” and that schools are already rising to the challenge.
Earlier this week the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) claimed that the Government floor targets are “pretty much irrelevant” this year due to the upheaval in the exams system.
ASCL general secretary Brian Lightman warned against judging the nation’s schools on one set of exam results, saying too much has changed compared with 2013 to draw accurate comparisons from year to year.
Last summer’s GCSE results showed a sharp drop in English grades, with 61.7 per cent of entries scoring A*-C, down 1.9 percentage points from last summer. This is believed to be the biggest drop in the qualification’s history. Maths saw an opposite result, with 62.4 per cent of entries gaining an A*-C grade, up a massive 4.8 percentage points on 2013.
These are key subjects in the Government’s floor target, and a lower-than-expected English result could push a school below the benchmark