GCSE and A-level league tables for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire
Norfolk has fallen further down the GCSE and A-level league tables, despite record results for dozens of the county's schools – which were among some of the most improved in the country.
It has prompted strong criticism once again of the annual lists which compare the performances of every secondary school and college in the country.
Last night unions and headteachers said the tables overlooked the many achievements and individual successes which were rightly celebrated over the summer and called for an end to the yearly publication.
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Colin Collis, Norfolk branch secretary for the NASUWT union, said: 'The figures will mask huge success for teachers and pupils and it's about time we got away from these stupid league tables. League tables are a waste of time. They are a crude stick to beat schools and teachers with.'
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Norfolk saw its overall position in the national standings for both GCSEs and A-levels fall again yesterday, along with Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.
Having dropped from 78th to 103rd based on 2010's GCSE results, last summer's performance pushed Norfolk further down to 115th place out of 151 local authority areas.
It also suffered a big drop from 65th to 99th in the A-level league table.
Its neighbouring counties experienced similar falls with Suffolk dropping from 112th to 121st in the GCSE list, and from 40th to 55th for its A-level performance. Cambridgeshire moved from 38th to 64th place for GCSEs and 25th to 31st place for A-levels.
Last night, Norfolk County Council said the area's schools had plenty to be proud of.
The percentage of pupils achieving the government's gold standard of five A* to C grades, including English and maths, at GCSE increased by 3.1pc from 52.3pc to 55.4pc.
The authority was the 66th most improved in the country.
Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children's services, said: 'This is the biggest improvement we have seen at GCSE in the last six years and Norfolk's headteachers, staff and students should be commended for their very hard work. The vast majority of our schools have made significant progress on the previous year and we are already sharing good practice to help build on this success for the county's current year 11s.'
Nine schools, including some of Norfolk's previously failing sites which have now become academies, recorded an increase of at least 10 percentage points while the proportion of 'looked-after' youngsters reaching the GCSE gold standard doubled from 2010.
Mrs Thomas added: 'Of course there is always more to do and, as ever, we want improvements to continue so that every student in the county is achieving their potential. It is frustrating that we have not improved in the national rankings, despite being one of the most improved authorities, but the most important thing for our students and their parents is that there has been this improvement and we are confident that it will continue.'
Andrew McCandlish, county branch secretary for the ATL teaching union, said Norfolk's fall down the league tables this year was 'very strange' and that he believed they were now more about a school's ability to 'work the system' than a reflection of schools' performances.
But he said it was unlikely to worry too many headteachers. He said: 'I think people have been battered by these statistics sufficiently that it will not have a huge damaging effect on morale.
'The thing that would be a far better boast for teachers would be to say, of the people who have left school, 'we have got an increase in the percentage who have gone into employment or further education'. That's much more important.'
Leading the list of most improved schools in Norfolk was Ormiston Victory Academy, whose first set of results after converting from Costessey High School jumped by 26pc to 64pc achieving five A* to C grades, including English and maths, at GCSE.
King's Lynn Academy, the former The Park High School, Ormiston Venture Academy, previously Oriel High School in Gorleston, and City Academy Norwich, the former Earlham High, also saw big increases. Long Stratton High School's 12pc improvement and a 10pc increase for Notre Dame High School, in Norwich, saw them become two of the best performing state schools in the county at GCSE level, along with Wymondham College and Aylsham High School.
But Notre Dame headteacher Brian Conway said he would not pay too much attention to the statistics.
He said: 'It doesn't make me jump for joy. What makes me happier is when Ofsted came in and found us outstanding – that means more to us and always will do.
'One of the things you have to be careful with when looking at league tables is that there is always going to be someone at the top and someone at the bottom.
'All the league tables do is give you a ranking – they don't give you a full story. Norfolk has fallen, but it hides the very good stories behind the Norfolk successes.'
Once again, Norfolk barely registered on the list of schools achieving the government's latest measurement of choice – the English Baccalaureate, which requires A* to C grades in English, maths, double science, a language and either history or geography.
The measure was announced after last summer's cohort of GSCE pupils began their studies meaning many schools had not had time to adjust their curriculum.
Others have chosen to ignore it, believing it does not include a broad enough range of subjects.