Schools criticise league tables

Caistor Yarborough Academy headteacher Jeremy Newnham EMN-151016-084218001
Caistor Yarborough Academy headteacher Jeremy Newnham EMN-151016-084218001
  • Latest figures flawed by ‘marking inconsistencies’ and new rule that penalises for resits

As the latest school league tables are published headteachers around the area have hit out at a flawed system that fails to ‘give a real picture’ of students’ achievements.

The latest GCSE figures once again put Caistor Grammar School at the top of the table for Lincolnshire with 98 per cent of students gaining at least five A* to C grades, including English and maths.

At Caistor Yarborough Academy this figure is just 25 per cent, putting the school in the bottom two per cent of schools in the entire country.

But the school says the low figure is “inaccurate” due to several factors, including a new ‘first entry’ rule which means only the result from a student’s first attempt at an exam can be counted.

CYA headteacher Jeremy Newnham said: “We do not ‘chase’ qualifications for league tables. We want our students to have the best chance when they move on to post 16 education – the ‘key’ to their futures.

“All colleges and sixth forms accept their higher grade and not the first entry one.

“Curiously, in January 2015 when last year’s tables were produced, it appeared that top independent schools Eton, Harrow and Winchester had no students with five good GCSEs including English and maths.”

Mr Newnham said CYA’s ‘real’ figure for A* to C grades, including English and maths, was in fact 55 per cent.

CYA deputy headteacher Pam Watson said: “It’s not giving a real picture of what our students are achieving.”

The provisional tables, which will be not be made final until next year, also fail to include any exams that have been remarked.

William Farr C of E Comprehensive School headteacher Andy Stones said: “The tables are heavily affected this year by marking inconsistencies.

“We are still awaiting some remarks to be returned but already our figures are higher than those suggested in the tables and, despite the national picture showing a decline, we expect our performance to be higher than last year in the final analysis.

“Progress 8 is the new key indicator which has not been released yet but we expect ours to be in the order 0.5 - in other words in 5 out of 10 exams students performed a whole grade better than would be expected nationally.”

Market Rasen De Aston School headteacher Ellenor Beighton criticised the ‘first entry’ rule.

She said: “It is a shame that students are no longer able to take qualifications early without penalising the school, as for some students the opportunity to retake subjects to improve grades was very motivational, creating medium term goals that had real meaning.”

But Ms Beighton said she was “pleased” with De Aston’s results.

She said: “Although we are a non-selective school in a selective area, we are pleased to see that De Aston students have outperformed students nationally on many measures.

“Indeed the school achieved almost 10 per cent above the national on the key measure of five A*-C grades with English and Mathematics and over 16 per cent higher on the English baccalaureate suite of high value qualifications.

“This is entirely due to the efforts of our superb teaching staff, our supportive parents and, of course, the efforts of our committed students.”

Caistor Grammar School headteacher Roger Hale said: “ We are the leading school in Lincolnshire on the tables and we’re very pleased about that.

“What we all do is to work as hard as we can to do as well as we can for the students.

“We’re doing it with them and for them and through them.

“It’s not really about a position in a league table, it’s about helping the students.”