Norfolk’s disadvantaged pupils narrow the GCSE gap with their peers

Brian Conway, of NSEL, welcomed the news. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Brian Conway, of NSEL, welcomed the news. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

Efforts to improve the GCSE performance of Norfolk's most disadvantaged pupils have narrowed the gap between then and their peers, according to a analysis of this week's results.

Ofsted last year told Norfolk County Council it should challenge schools to improve the achievement of vulnerable groups, including those entitled to free school meals.

A council analysis of Thursday's GCSE results submitted by the all the county's high schools suggested the proportion of disadvantaged pupils gaining five GCSEs at A*-C, including English and maths, had risen by 4.5 percentage points.

That meant 34.8pc of children in care, or eligible for free school meals, gained the gold standard, compared to an overall figure of just under 55pc.

Both figures were below predictions, published last month and based on data from schools, that these groups would achieve 60pc and 41pc respectively.

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Brian Conway, chair of Norfolk Secondary Education Leaders (NSEL), said: 'On behalf of NSEL we welcome this excellent improvement in the results attained by Norfolk's disadvantaged students. It vindicates the hard work in schools, the effective interventions which include the Norfolk Pupil Premium strategy and the single minded determination of every headteacher to get the best results for all students in receipt of Pupil Premium.

'However, while a gap remains we will continue with the effective strategies to raise the achievement of disadvantaged students so that every child in Norfolk can achieve their full potential.'

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James Joyce, chairman of the Children's Services Committee, said: 'All students have the potential to achieve great things, whatever their background, and our focus is to challenge schools and academies to ensure that they are doing their very best for these students.'

In March, Andrew Cook, Ofsted's regional director for the East of England, highlighted the attainment gap between children in care and their peers in our region, and said inspectors would increasingly ask schools about this, with their answers increasingly influencing inspection grades.

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