Thursday, January 23, 2014
GCSE results in Norfolk have fallen for the first time in nine years, according to league tables published today, despite improved performances both nationally and in neighbouring counties.
Norfolk plunged 20 places in the national league tables, from 118th in 2012 to 138th in 2013, and saw the percentage of pupils achieving the government’s “gold standard” of at least five A*-C grades, including English and maths, in GCSEs or their equivalents, drop from 55.6% to 54.4%.
However, the disappointing overall figures masked strong results at a number of schools, including some which recorded double-digit increases in pupils hitting the key target.
The percentage of Suffolk pupils achieving the same standard climbed from 50.5% to 54.6%, moving the county one place above Norfolk in the rankings.
Cambridgeshire also saw an improvement in its pupils’ results, with 61% of pupils reaching the key target – taking the county above the national average of 60.6% and into 73rd place in the county.
Mick Castle, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for education, said he was “concerned that the gap nationally at GCSE has increased this year”, but said the council’s strategy would improve results.
He said: “That strategy has received expert external review, which found there was unwavering determination to see through changes in intervention and support in the county. It also acknowledged our ambition for Norfolk’s schools.
“We are already seeing successes in some schools that have embraced the intensive support on offer and we know that the headteachers’ associations in the county are working much more robustly to challenge and support each other to bring about the improvements in education that are needed.”
Although today’s results show a dip in performance in Norfolk GCSE results, Ofsted’s annual report, published last month, said the county’s secondary schools had seen the strongest improvement in the region, albeit “from a very low base”.
George Denby, chairman of the recently restructured Norfolk Secondary Education Leaders (NSEL), said: “Progress is being made and school-to-school support is proving effective, with many of the county’s secondary schools benefiting from the expertise of both their peers in and outside of Norfolk.
“This renewed focus should begin to be borne out in exam results in future years and Norfolk’s secondary leaders are determined to ensure that every student achieves their potential and that we close the gap nationally, because we want the county’s young people to be the absolute best that they can be.”
Although more schools in Norfolk saw their results fall than rise, the data also showed strong performances at many.
A total of 93% of pupils at the independent Norwich High School for Girls reached the “gold standard”, and Wymondham College recorded a figure of 86%.
Last summer’s good results at Fakenham High School, which led to its headteacher criticising an Ofsted report which previously branded it “inadequate”, were confirmed.
The school, which has since become an academy, saw the percentage of pupils reaching the government target jump 14 percentage points from 44% to 58%.
Among other large Norfolk schools, Hethersett High, Northgate High in Dereham, and Swaffham Hamond’s High, now The Nicholas Hamond Academy, saw big increases.
However, today’s figures also showed that eight state-funded schools in the region did not meet the government’s floor standard of at least 40% of pupils gaining the all-important five A*-Cs, including English and maths.
They included Norfolk’s first two academy schools, The Open Academy and City Academy Norwich.
When the government issued City Academy with a pre-warning notice in November the school said it already had a comprehensive action plan in place.
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