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Wednesday, 08 July 2015

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League tables just part of overall picture say schools

COPELAND schoOls celebrate their success in exam league tables – although they say these are just one indicator of student’s progress.

The Department for Education published figures last week for Key Stage 4 and 5 results to give an indication about how schools perform.

The Cumbrian average of students gaining five or more A* to C grades, including English and Maths is 56.5 per cent, compared to 59.2 per cent nationally. The county average of students gaining five or more A* to C grades is 80.7 per cent, compared to 81.8 per cent nationally.

West Lakes Academy said 99 per cent of students received five or more GCSE A* to C grades, with 59 per cent of students gaining five GCSE A* to C grades including English and Maths.

Principal Vanessa Ray said: “It was a pleasant surprise to find out our sixth form students achieved the second highest results for vocational subjects in the whole of the country and our value added score at GCSE puts us in the top two per cent of schools nationally.

“The Academy has been steadily improving over the years and we will continue this trend.”

Value added scores show how much difference a school makes to individual students’ progress. The academy achieved 1,041 in its this score, putting it in second place nationally and top place in the county.

St Benedict’s School and Millom School are also celebrating. The three-year average for the percentage of students achieving five or more A* to C, including English and Maths, is 56 per cent at Millom and 55 per cent at St Benedict’s.

Millom School’s value added score is 1026.5, placing it third in the county while St Benedict’s School improved its value added score from 948.9 in 2012 to 986.1.

Ian Smith Executive headteacher at St Benedict’s said: “The performance of St Benedict’s School shows a very strong performance over three years, particularly when compared with schools in the immediate vicinity.”

In a joint statement Mr Smith and Simon Laheney, Head of School at Millom, said league tables are useful but they are just one indicator of students progress.

They said: “It is important when making a judgement about the performance of a school, or indeed which school to choose, parents and children should visit the school, look on the website and speak with students and parents already using the school, and talk to the teachers and governors. It is a shame performance tables do not do justice to the totality of a school’s offer, for example, about the range of extra-curricular activities available or the level of pastoral care on offer. It is not possible to make a proper judgement about the ethos, values and culture of a school without visiting it.”

At The Whitehaven Academy, assistant headteacher, Frank Anderson said: “The league tables reflect our position as at the time of the published results to students in August. We had our best ever five A* to C pass rate (90 per cent) and our girls achieved their targets. Sometimes the results do not directly reflect the vast improvements that have been made within the range of different subject areas which have been significant. We have made good progress in the last few years and this was reflected in our Ofsted judgements this year which gave us good for both leadership and behaviour and safety.”

He added: “The partnership that we now have with The BrightTribe Trust will further accelerate the rapid improvements we are making as an Academy.”

At St Bees School 78 per cent of students gained five or more A* to C grades, including English and Maths.

Headmaster James Davies said pupils were not affected by the grade boundary changes in science.

He said: “We are particularly pleased that we have gone against that trend – it’s in line with the school’s strength of Maths and science. Over 70 per cent of students achieved an A or A* in these science exams.

“We feel league tables are one indicator of a school’s success. Our job is to enable our students to be the best they can be. ”

Chris Natress, of Lakes College, said college students included in these scores represent fewer than a fifth of those taking qualifications.

He said: “It is important to recognise that many of our Key Stage 5 learners have progressed with us though Level 1 and Level 2, therefore represent a different cohort from schools and colleges with more direct entry at Level 3 due to A Level provision. These students are on average achieving a merit score and can be proud of this achievement, having started their studies at Lakes College with fewer than five GCSEs at grade A to C.”

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