GCSE grades 'poor' in region

SUFFOLK and Essex have performed poorly in this year's GCSE results league tables, despite improving compared to last year.

Graham Dines

SUFFOLK and Essex have performed poorly in this year's GCSE results league tables, despite improving compared to last year.

Both counties are way down the overall list of education authorities for pupils achieving five or more A*-C grades.

However, while results improved in Suffolk, it was second worst shire county - behind Nottinghamshire - for the percentage of pupils achieving five or more A*-C grades including English and maths.

Norfolk was bottom of the shire county table for percentage of pupils getting A*-C in any GCSE subject.

With many councils achieving 70% and 80% pass rates, East Anglia remains one of the poorest regions for levels of attainment.

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Last night, councillor Graham Newman, Suffolk's portfolio holder for children, schools and young people, claimed performance was worse in areas with middle schools. The authority is in the process of abolishing the county's middle schools despite fierce opposition.

He said: “Suffolk results broadly reflect increases nationally for the percentage of students gaining 5 A* to C grades including English and mathematics, and 5 A* to C grades in any GCSE subjects.

“However, this means that we remain behind the national average for both sets of results. We had hoped for quicker progress. We will be taking action to improve outcomes for 2010.”

He added: “In general results at GCSE level are lower in three-tier areas than in two-tier areas. To this end, it is imperative that we continue with the school organisation review to help raise standards in those areas”.

Stephen Castle, Essex county council cabinet member for education said: “While there have been clear improvements in the number of Essex pupils achieving 5 or more A*-C grades at GCSE, I am only too aware that some pupils do not achieve this national standard.

“The council is working hard to improve the quality of education in Essex by investing money in our schools. We are not afraid to tackle poor performance and raising educational attainment remains a priority.”

Education minister Vernon Coker welcomed the overall national improvement in England.

“Standards have never been higher - certainly compared to a decade ago. A huge boost of 90,000 more young people since 1997 have that ticket of five good GCSEs, including maths and English, and are able to take the baton and move successfully to further education, training or work.”

Percentage of pupils achieving 5 or more A*-C grades at GCSE

Local authority 1998 2008 2009

Cambridgeshire 51.6 65.5 69.5

Essex 48.6 63.3 67.8

Norfolk 46.0 60.2 62.8

Suffolk 49.4 63.3 66.5

England Average 65.3 69.7

Percentage of pupils achieving 5 or more A*-C including English and maths

1998 2008 2009

Cambridgeshire 39.7 53.6 55.7

Essex 38.2 49.0 49.9

Norfolk 36.5 47.9 49.6

Suffolk 36.0 46.6 48.5

England average 47.6 49.7