Graham Newman

Suffolk: More bad news for schools as county appears 142nd out of 151 authorities for GCSE results

Thursday, January 24, 2013
9.26 AM

THE county’s schools were today getting more bad news as new government figures show the county’s high schools have followed primaries down the league table.

They have fallen to 142nd out of 151 local authorities across the country for GCSE results – last year it was 121st. That result caused concern because in 2010 Suffolk was 112th in the league table.

The news comes just a month after it was revealed that the county’s primary schools had fallen to third from bottom of the league table for key stage two (11 plus) SATS.

Officials at the county council said last year’s controversial decision to change the marking of GCSE exam papers hit Suffolk hard because 31 out of 37 schools used the AQA examination board, which –the authority said – was widely believed to have adjusted its grade boundaries most drastically.

However the independent exam board regulator Ofqual found that AQA was not out of line with other examination boards, stating in its August 2012 report: “we did not find anything substantively different here from our review of any other exam board.”

The figures show only 51 per cent of Suffolk pupils achieved 5 A*-C grades including maths and English compared to the national average of 59pc.

While GCSE results were disappointing, A-level results showed an improvement on the previous year.

A statement from the county council said it was committed to helping schools raise attainment levels.

It has allocated additional funding to each school to enable extra revision sessions can be provided for students.

Graham Newman, the county’s 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.

“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 quite often the same teachers have been teaching both GCSE and A-level pupils.”

Yesterday, The Star revealed an alarming slump in standards among primary and secondary schools in Ipswich – with the number rated as good or outstanding plummeting by 19 per cent in only four years.

n Are you happy with your children’s school results? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk