Secondary school league tables: How did your child’s school fare?
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Many Stevenage and North Herts secondary schools were left disappointed by their ranking after new education progress tables were released last week.
It is the first time schools have been judged on the basis of the controversial new ‘Progress 8’ system which sees pupils performance given a point score based on their progress made since they left primary school.
It is also the first time the new system of GCSE grades has been used in the calculation, with pupils graded 1 to 9 in English and maths instead of A* to G.
Ten mainstream secondary schools in Hertfordshire were graded ‘well below average’ in the tables, including Stevenage’s The Barclay School and the two now defunct Da Vinci schools in Stevenage and Letchworth.
But headteachers feel the Progress 8 mark which determines where they are ranked in the league tables does not necessarily reflect good grades achieved by pupils at GCSE level unless they have achieved significantly better than their primary school-leaving grades suggested they would.
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Heads believe therefore that the second figure known as ‘Attainment 8’, which is an average calculation of how well pupils achieved in up to eight qualifications including English and maths, is more reflective of how well schools are doing.
A case in point is The Barclay School which was labelled ‘well below average’ with a Progress 8 score of -0.53. However its attainment score was much more encouraging at 41.9.
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Headteacher Mark Allchorn, who joined the school with a new leadership team a year ago after the school was rated as inadequate by Ofsted in 2016, told the Comet the score doesn’t reflect the strides in progress that have been made this year.
He said: “We’re actually very pleased with what we managed to pull around in two terms.
“The Attainment 8 score was very pleasing indeed. But it also shows the amount of work we have to do which we’ve been focusing on since last January, and especially since the summer.
“We need to be talking about the importance of Progress 8 at every opportunity.
“We are looking for a strong uplift this year and now we have more robust methods our current predictions are looking much more healthy.”
Many schools were also consigned to the ‘below average’ category including The Thomas Alleyne Academy in Stevenage, with a Progress 8 score of -0.44 and an Attainment 8 score of 42.5.
Stevenage’s The Nobel School also came in at ‘below average’ with a Progress 8 score of -0.28 and an Attainment 8 score of 43.4, while Hitchin Boys’ School was judged in the same category with a -0.21 Progress 8 score and a 53.4 Attainment 8 score.
Thomas Alleyne head Mark Lewis reflected the same sentiment that Progress 8 does not reflect the school’s performance in terms of results.
He said: “We are pleased with the significant improvements in attainment Thomas Alleyne has secured in English and maths.
“For the first time ever we are above the national average for students achieving good passes in both these subjects. We are confident that the excellent work continuing in TAA will see our Progress 8 performance enhanced in the coming years.”
The complex situation prior to the closure of two Da Vinci schools – for students aged 14-19 – also meant they were left with a low ranking. The Da Vinci Studio School of Science and Engineering, based in Stevenage, came second bottom in the Hertfordshire tables with a Progress 8 score oF -2.09. The Da Vinci Studio School of Creative Enterprise, based in Letchworth, fared little better – with a -1.39 Progress 8 score.
The fact that these were vocational-based schools with pupils specialising in science and engineering or creative subjects meant students did not take the range of subjects needed to achieve a good Progress 8 score – another defect with the system specialist schools face.
The best performing school in North Herts was Hitchin Girls’ School, which was judged to be ‘well above average’ with a Progress 8 score of 0.79 and an Attainment 8 figure of 61.5.
The debates about Progress 8 are bound to rage on, but that is little consolation for some schools whose previously good reputations are being put on the line by a less than perfect and arguably over complex numeric scoring system.