Mixed bag in rankings for schools in an around Haverhill

GCSE results at Castle Manor Academy'Sophie Allen, Alice Edwards
GCSE results at Castle Manor Academy'Sophie Allen, Alice Edwards

Secondary schools around Haverhill have performed well in the latest gradings – although they were hit by the summer GCSE grade boundary shift.

Samuel Ward Academy came tenth in the county (out of 44) for the percentage of students getting five GCSEs at grade A* to C including English and maths (71), while Castle Manor came 36th (40 per cent).

Linton  village college GCSE reesults'Sabrina Potter, luke Tabrem

Linton village college GCSE reesults'Sabrina Potter, luke Tabrem

However, the percentage for Castle Manor would have been 48 – potentially propelling the school up to four places in the rankings – had it not been for the grade boundary fiasco in the summer.

A shift in the boundaries increased the marks needed for a C in English, so pupils who would have C for a piece of coursework in January found themselves awarded a D for the same piece submitted in June.

Despite being low down the table for the pass percentage, Castle Manor had the best value added rating of any school in Suffolk, followed by Samuel Ward.

Samuel Ward’s percentage could have risen by seven were it not for the shift, potentially lifting it five places.

GCSE results at Castle Manor Academy

GCSE results at Castle Manor Academy

Castle Manor principal Madeleine Vigar said: “When the results were published we knew immediately that there were 26 students that had earned a grade C, who hadn’t been awarded it.

“We knew their module marks and we knew what their controlled assessments [coursework] were worth earlier in the year.

“These students have suffered and that is fundamentally unfair.”

Students have since been able to retake the exam and have proven that they did deserve the grade.

“The 48 per cent figure is based on those 26 students doing controlled assessment again in November and proves they deserved the grade in the first place,” added Ms Vigar.

Samuel Ward head Howard Lay said: “Last year’ s year 11 pupils achieved the highest ever results.

“These results mean our pupils achieved some of the highest results of any school Suffolk and way above the national average. Without the change to the grade boundaries in English our pupils would have done even better but with so many of them gaining such high grades in some of the most demanding subjects we are really proud of their achievements.”

At Stoke College 59 per cent of students met the standard.

At St Benedict’s Catholic School in Bury St Edmunds 56 per cent of students met the grade as it came in 21st out of Suffolk’s schools.

It came 15th for value added.

School head Hugh O’Neill, who has investigated thoroughly the impact of the grade boundary shift on his school’s results, said: “As everyone knows, many schools were badly affected by the controversial grading of

GCSE English and English Language results in summer 2012.

“Our English results dropped from a record-breaking 90 per cent A*-C pass rate 2011 to 63 per cent in 2012.

“The five A*-C pass rate including English and Maths dropped from 82 per cent in 2011 to 56 per cent in 2012.

“This shows how disastrous the fall in English results was on our overall performance measure.

“This was a very good group of students.

”Their scores in maths, in science and other subjects closely matched those of previous groups of students.

“But it is the English results that simply don’t add up.

“This matters to us as a school, but it matters most to a group of 19 students who we think should have obtained grade C and did not.

“If they had been in any other year, they would have passed at grade C.

“Their opportunities in education and training have been affected.

“That is the real message of the Performance Tables for 2012.”

Suffolk as a county fared poorly, coming 142 out of 151 local authorities with only 51 per cent of students achieving the five A* to C standard, compared to the national average of 59.

Cambridgeshire fared much better, coming 94th out of all the counties.

Linton Village College was tenth out of Cambridgeshire’s 37 schools with 73 per cent of students meeting the standard, while Sawston Village College was two places behind (66 per cent).

They were fifth and sixth respectively for value added.

Essex did better still in 69th, with Hedingham School coming 26th out of 84 schools with 67 per cent of pupils meeting the target.

It came eighth for value added.

Suffolk County Councillor Graham Newman, cabinet member for education and young people, said: “This summer headteachers and parents were rightly very concerned about the grades being awarded for GCSE English. As such I personally wrote to all our local MPs, Ofqual, and the Parliamentary Select Committee urging them to consider the unfair shift in grade boundaries.

“The inconsistencies in grade boundaries caused a number of students to miss out on job, apprenticeship or further education opportunities as well as causing high levels of anxiety and stress for students and their parents.

“Now we are seeing what many considered an unfair decision to change grade boundaries reflecting negatively on the overall picture for Key Stage 4 results for schools across the county.

“We have a number of excellent schools within the county that have worked tirelessly to ensure their students receive the grades of which they are capable.

“The Key Stage Four figures released today simply do not do those schools, and those students, justice.

“Our A Level results show how the grade boundary alteration has warped how our schools appear in the league tables.

“The same schools that have slipped down the GCSE league tables have done fantastically with their A Level results, where grade boundaries have not been changed at the last minute and the quite often the same teachers have been teaching both GCSE and A Level pupils.

“We are working very closely with our schools to ensure they have the necessary support from the county council to enable them to prepare their students for GCSE’s, including additional financial support to provide extra revision resources.”

For all the latest news see today’s (Thursday, January 31) Echo.