LEEDS school pupils achieved the biggest increase in GCSE results in Yorkshire but new league tables show there is still a group of inner city academies which are failing to meet Government floor targets.
The new secondary school league tables show that the proportion of students in the city getting at least five good grades, including English and maths, has increased to 55.5 per cent compared with 51 per cent the previous year.
Last year Government reforms were blamed for the vast majority of the city’s schools seeing their pass rates slump in the exams sat in 2014.
This trend has been reversed today with more than 25 schools in Leeds seeing results improve and less than 10 experiencing a fall in good grades in the exams sat last summer.
However an analysis of the data published by the Department for Education does show that there are five schools in the city which failed to meet minimum floor standards at GCSE.
Schools are classed as being beneath the floor if less than 40 per cent of pupils achieved give A* to C grades, including English and maths, and students also fail to keep up with the national average level of progress being made in those subjects.
This year David Young Community Academy, in Seacroft, which recently went into special measures, Leeds City Academy, Leeds East Academy, South Leeds Academy and Swallow Hill Community College were all said to be beneath the floor, according to analysis by the Press Association.
Garforth Academy had the highest proportion of pupils achieving the GCSE benchmark at 80 per cent - up ten per cent on the year before.
The school’s principal Andy Woodhouse said: “Garforth Academy are very proud of the achievement of our young people. The 2015 results were the culmination of the positive work ethic displayed by the students supported by hard working staff and supportive parents and carers.We are particularly delighted with this outcome, especially in light of the pace of change all schools are having to address. Congratulations must surely go to our students.”
It was followed by Allerton High and then Prince Henry’s Grammar in Otley.
One of the biggest increases in good grades was at Bruntcliffe School - now Bruntcliffe Academy in Morley, which went from 32 per cent of pupils achieving the benchmark in 2014 to 52 per cent last year.
The results were secured under the leadership of David Gurney, the head at Cockburn School who was seconded to the school.
It has since joined the Gorse Academies Trust which runs the neighbouring Morley Academy. Anne-Marie Garnett is now principal at Bruntcliffe Academy having previously led Morley.
She said: “These results were achieved under David Gurney. We are pleased to be the most improved school in the city. The school is on a journey and believe we can improve further.” She said that since the school has joined Gorse Academies Trust there had been a focus on improving pupil behaviour.
John Smeaton Academy was another of the most improved schools in Leeds at GCSE in 2015. It saw a 14 percentage point rise in the number of students gaining five or more A* to Cs including English and maths, from 35 per cent in 2014 to 49 per cent last summer. The school converted to an academy in January 2014 when it joined United Learning. Headteacher Julian Snape said: “We are delighted with our standing in these latest tables which show that John Smeaton Academy is one of the most improved schools in Leeds. Since becoming an academy, the school has made great strides forward as we put in place measures to improve outcomes for our students. The 14 percentage point increase in our headline result is testament to the determination and high expectations of our students and staff and I am confident that this will spur on our current Year 11 cohort in their exams this summer.”
Two independent schools in Leeds were classed as having no pupils achieving five good GCSEs, including English and maths, but this is because international GCSE qualifications in the core subjects - favoured by some in the private sector - are not included in the tables. The Grammar School at Leeds and Gateways are both recorded as having “0 per cent” but this does not reflect how many pupils achieved iGCSEs.
Last year the majority of Leeds’ state secondary schools saw the number of students getting five good GCSEs, including English and maths, fall after a major shake up of the exam system.
And nationally the number of secondary schools considered to be under-performing doubled with the fall being blamed on an overhaul of the exams. This included only pupils’ first attempt at a GCSE counting towards schools’ league table score and the removal of some vocational qualifications.
More to follow.
LEAGUE TABLES IN FULL
THE government has published performance tables for every secondary school. Click the links to view tables, from the Department for Education