Two Bridlington headteachers have defended their schools’ below-average performance in last years GCSE exams.
Headlands School suffered a steep plunge in GCSE results compared to its previous year’s performance, leaving it as the worst performing secondary in the county and failing to reach the government’s pass rate target.
Meanwhile Bridlington School Sports College’s pass rate remained the same from 2013, with 54 per cent again attaining five or more good GCSEs including maths and English - but the school is currently joint-third from bottom on a table of 18 council-run schools in the East Riding.
Bridlington School Sports College headteacher Sarah Pashley said: “Rather than simply looking at the league tables, we would much rather that parents/carers judged the effectiveness of our school from visiting us, talking to our staff and students, looking at our website and checking out our Ofsted report.”
Education experts said the new government rules which have toughened up GCSE exams are largely to blame for a drop in school performance across the county as well as nationally.
The new rules include that schools are not allowed to enter the grades of resit exams in their performance data. Also, some vocational subjects are no longer recognised as being a GCSE.
Sarah Pashley added: “Very frustratingly, the league tables only report on success in the qualifications that the current Government thinks are worthwhile. I disagree strongly with this Government’s opinion of what it considers to be a valuable qualification.
“For example, I think that Btecs and other vocational qualifications are just as good as GCSEs and far better for some students. I think this emphasis is having a negative impact on developing the creativity of young people in this country.”
Only 35 per cent of Headlands pupils achieved a grade A* - C in five or more subjects including maths and English, which is a decline of 20 per cent since 2013 and the greatest year-on-year drop out of all schools in the East Riding.
However, headteacher Sarah Bone, said the results are not reflective of the school’s quality.
She said: “The GCSE results produced in last week’s Department for Education Performance Tables are based on our early entry for Maths only in 2014.
“This year we have ‘early entered’ students again and they have achieved 83 per cent A* - C in GCSE English, and 93 per cent A* to A grades in GCSE Maths. These are outstanding results and we are very proud of their achievements. The motivational benefits of students experiencing success throughout years 10 and 11 are significant.”
Meanwhile, Education bosses at East Riding of Yorkshire Council have denied they have tried to hide figures which showed Bridlington Sports College’s below average-performance in the GCSE league tables.
In an official statement last week, the council appeared to have got the figures wrong when it said the national average was just 53 per cent, not 56.6 per cent.
Significantly, this would have placed Bridlington Sports College, as well as a handful of other schools in the East Riding, above the national average.
When challenged, a council spokesperson said: “It wasn’t that we were fiddling the figures or anything, but there were two separate sets of figures. Everybody, including the BBC is going with 56.6 per cent and that seems to be the accepted figure, so we won’t argue with that.”
The spokesperson refused to go on the record to say where the 53 per cent figure came from.
However the Department for Education published a figure of 53.4 per cent which included the GCSE results of “all schools,” including pupil referral units, for pupils who have excluded from mainstream education, and independent schools, which “underperformed” due to entering pupils for “international GCSEs” which weren’t recognised under new rules.