County’s teenagers are failing to make national mark at GCSE

Norfolk is pinning its hopes on its new academies to boost results after the county's teenagers tumbled down the national table of GCSE performance.

Suffolk and Cambridgeshire also took a tumble this year, according to the latest figures, which could raise fears about the region's ability to compete with its national rivals.

The county-by-county Department for Education (DfE) statistics showed that the three counties in the region posted better results than ever in June's exams – but their improvements were outstripped by much more impressive strides by many of their rivals.

At A-level, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire's 18-year-olds posted worse results than last year. But the decline was mirrored across England and has had very little impact on their spots in the league table of local authorities.

In Norfolk, the percentage of 16-year-olds getting the benchmark five A*-C GCSEs including English and maths has gone up from 47.9pc in 2008 to 50pc in 2009 and 51.3pc this year.

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But its position in the table of 150 local authorities has gone in the other direction, from 74th in 2008 to 78th in 2009 and 109th this year.

The national average has risen much more rapidly, from 49.7pc last year to 53pc this year.

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In Suffolk, the percentage of students achieving the target of five good grades including English and maths has improved from 46.6pc in 2008 to 48.7pc in 2009 and 51.5pc this year. But its national position has gone from 83rd in 2008 to 91st last year and 107th this year.

Cambridgeshire's percentage of students getting five good grades including English and maths jumped from 53.6pc in 2008 to 56.2pc in 2009 and 58.5pc in 2010. Its position nationally fell from 31st in 2008 to 32nd last year and 37th this year.

Alison Thomas, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for children's services, said: 'These are record results for Norfolk students and there have been some remarkable success stories at Norfolk's schools, with 20 of our schools achieving improvements greater than the national average.

'However, there is still more work to be done and at GCSE we are determined to move closer to and surpass the national average. I know that teachers, support staff and students are working extremely hard and are determined to do their very best and I am confident that performance will continue to improve.'

She added that a dip in results at seven of the county's schools 'had an impact on the county average', and said: 'We will be working closely with these schools to determine what happened this year and how we can bring about further improvements.'

And she said that the council had transformed five schools into academies at Costessey, Gorleston, Thetford and King's Lynn this year, adding: 'We are hopeful that this will have a long-term impact on aspirations and levels of achievement.'

At A-level, Norfolk's average points score per pupil was 701.9 in 2008 (76th of the 150 local authorities), 704.6 in 2009 (80th) and 699.4 this year (81st).

In Suffolk, the average points score per pupil was 738.6 in 2008 (36th), 748 in 2009 (32nd) and 734.4 this year (35th).

In Cambridgeshire, it was 797.6 in 2008 (8th), 763.2 in 2009 (22nd), and 743.9 in 2010 (29th).

On a different measure, the average points score per entry, Norfolk topped the national average for the first time.

Students in the county's schools achieved an average score per entry of 211.2, 0.7 points above the national average of 210.5 points.

Students receive points based on their grades, with an A* worth 300 points, an A, 270 and each grade lower scoring 30 fewer points.

Mrs Thomas said: 'I would like to congratulate all of Norfolk's students and teachers who have seen considerable improvements in results this year.'

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