School league tables in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent: English exams fiasco can't stop high schools marching on
AN EXTRA 200 pupils made the grade in their GCSEs last summer, despite some schools being significantly affected by the controversy surrounding English results.
Secondary school league tables published today show schools across Stoke-on-Trent have improved by 3.6 per cent over the last year. And Staffordshire schools have surged forward by 2.2 per cent.
But in Cheshire East Council's area, the proportion of students achieving A* to C passes in maths, English and at least three other subjects, has fallen by 2.5 per cent.
A number of its schools are currently embroiled in legal action against exam boards and the regulator Ofqual after their students were awarded lower grades than expected in English exams and coursework.
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But overall, Cheshire East teenagers have still outperformed their peers nationally. They are in 38th place out of 152 education authorities.
Meanwhile, Staffordshire has come 75th and Stoke-on-Trent has clinched 139th place.
The rankings are based on the number of students achieving good passes in at least five subjects, including English and maths.
Among the schools celebrating success today is Ormiston Horizon Academy, in Chell.
The school replaced James Brindley Science College in 2011 and results have now shot up by 25 per cent.
Principal Rod Hughes said: "We are delighted. We think we are one of the most improved schools in the UK."
In Blurton, Ormiston Sir Stanley Matthews Academy has seen a 20 per cent improvement at GCSE.
And it's not just young people who are being taught how to do well. Teachers also spend every Wednesday afternoon training, so they can pick up tips on how to make lessons more interesting.
Principal Mark Stanyer said: "We have a relentless drive to improve teaching and learning."
The school also saw its English results, at the A* to C range, increase from 41 to 70 per cent.
But pupils at other schools were left disappointed by their English grades.
It followed the decision to alter the grade boundaries. This meant teenagers assessed in January last year were able to get Cs, yet pupils with exactly the same raw marks in the summer exams were given Ds.
Staffordshire County Council said it had created 'significant turbulence' for the county's schools.
Blythe Bridge High is currently appealing students' English GCSE results.
Headteacher Shan Schanda said: "I believe there has been an injustice done to the students. We are bitterly disappointed."
In South Cheshire, Sandbach School and Eaton Bank Academy, in Congleton, were among those adversely affected.
Today's tables also show independent schools have retained their grip on the top places.
At Stafford Grammar School and Newcastle-under-Lyme School, more than half of all grades were A* or As. While students from St Joseph's College, in Trent Vale, Painsley Catholic College, in Cheadle, and Holmes Chapel Comprehensive have come top in the state sector. Youngsters at Painsley also make significantly more progress than expected between the ages of 11 and 16. St Thomas More Catholic High, in Crewe, and Biddulph High score particularly well for individual pupil progress too.
The league tables also track the number of students being entered for traditional academic subjects, which are seen by the Government as a passport to success.
They have exposed vast differences between schools just a few miles apart.
At NCHS The Science College, in Newcastle, for instance, 77 per cent of pupils take a foreign language GCSE. Yet at Wolstanton High, just four per cent were entered for languages last year.
At Clough Hall Technology School, in Kidsgrove, star students included Anne Bailey and Jordan Hackney. The pair did not miss a single day of school in five years.
Jordan, aged 17, from Kidsgrove, said: "I was never that ill. But there was one day when I had a really bad headache – I thought about going home, but didn't want to miss school."
Jordan, who achieved seven GCSEs, a BTEC, and an AS-level, is now in Clough Hall's sixth form.
"I haven't missed a day in the sixth form either," he said.
Sixteen-year-old Josh Johnson, from Apedale Valley, had the perfect excuse for missing some of his lessons at Chesterton Community Sports College.
He runs a farm with his dad and his mock exams coincided with the lambing season.
Josh, who achieved nine GCSEs, said: "They let me have a week off school because I had to be with the ewes. I missed all my mocks, but I did all right in the end."
Josh was so committed to his farm work that he even got up early before school every day to feed the animals.
The school where students do the highest number of courses is The JCB Academy, at Rocester, where they are entered for an average of 17.6 qualifications, including an engineering diploma.
Congleton High comes second, with pupils being entered for an average of 16.8 qualifications.