Pupils 'being let down by schools'

TENS of thousands of teenagers are being let down by schools which are failing to ensure pupils leave with decent GCSE results, new league tables have suggested.

And around one in four schools and colleges are not producing any students with top grades in subjects that will help them win a place at a leading university, according to an analysis of the latest statistics.

In total, 195 schools in England, collectively teaching around 167,000 children, are falling below the Government's new floor target for secondaries, the figures show. This means that less than 40% of their pupils are gaining at least five GCSEs at grade C or higher, including English and maths, and students are not making good enough progress in these two core subjects.

Ministers have raised the floor target since last year (2011), but if this year's measure was applied to last year's results, 251 schools would have dropped below it. The new tables are based on data provided by the Department for Education (DfE) and show how every school and college in England performed at GCSE and A-level in 2012.

For the first time this year, the Government has also published figures on the numbers of pupils at each school or college that are scoring at least two A grades and a B at A-level in "facilitating" subjects. These are subjects that are preferred, or required more often, by Russell Group universities, which are considered among the top institutions in the UK.

An initial analysis of the latest statistics suggests that at around 600 schools and colleges - just over one in four - no A-level student scored AAB in facilitating subjects. Selective schools dominated the tables again this year.

The top school for GCSE results was Colyton Grammar School in Devon. The co-educational school entered 117 pupils for GCSEs and equivalent exams this year, and all got at least five qualifications at grade C or higher.

The most improved school was Trinity High School and Sixth Form Centre in Redditch, Worcestershire. Its GCSE results have risen from 32% getting five A*-C including English and maths in 2009 to 80% this year. Headteacher Marian Barton said she was "delighted", adding: "Our results were quite stupendous last year and we're expecting to maintain that improvement this year. We've come on a journey of continuous improvement over the past four years."

2012's bottom school for GCSEs was Pate's Grammar School in Cheltenham. It had no pupils getting five A*-C including English and maths, according to the data. This was because the school, which saw all pupils achieve this standard last year, had used a new English exam which was not included in this measure, said the DfE.

Pate's headmaster Russel Ellicott said: "We decided to move our English curriculum to an IGCSE, not currently counted in the league tables, because we decided that particular curriculum included a greater depth of learning, having fewer texts but students look at them in greater detail. We are secure in the knowledge that we have chosen the right curriculum."

© Press Association 2013

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