A message from the Principal
2015 League Tables
The government recently published its annual performance data for secondary schools in England but this year’s league tables have caused confusion amongst parents as well as frustration and anger from many schools, especially those in the independent sector.
New league table measures have been employed by the Department for Education this year and the published data appears to suggest there has been a significant drop in performance between 2013 and 2014 for many schools, including St. Mary’s College. The new league tables show that the percentage of St. Mary’s pupils achieving 5+ A*-C GCSEs incl. English and Maths has dropped from 79% in 2013 to 62% in 2014.
The reason behind this apparent drop is the stripping out of many previously measured qualifications such as International GCSEs and many vocational qualifications. But the biggest change in the performance data is the inclusion of only the results of a pupil’s first attempt at the exam – retake data has not been allowed in the tables this year.
At St. Mary’s, pupils and staff work extremely hard to achieve the best possible results. We have a great track record in improving the academic performance of pupils, regularly achieving in the top 5% nationally for ‘value added’. We are very proud of the fact that our pupils regularly outperform their grade predictions, sometimes by as much as 3 grades (i.e. C predicted, A* achieved) and this is partly achieved by allowing pupils to retake exams to highlight and acknowledge their continuous improvement.
The fact that pupils’ final, improved grades are no longer being taken into consideration by the DfE is not helpful for parents or pupils and means that schools like St. Mary’s, which performs so well in terms of helping pupils beat their predicted grades, do not have their academic achievements properly recognised. Sometimes the individual best interests of students are not served by ‘playing the league tables’ game’.
The Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, recently promoted the values of ‘character’ and ‘all round education’ as priorities for schools. We welcome this and trust it is recognised that such facets in a person’s development cannot always be represented as statistics in league tables.
At St. Mary’s our approach is one of individual academic excellence in progress as the starting point and then the personal development of pupils with the many skills for life are equally important educational goals.
Our priority will remain the best educational interest of each individual pupil and the standards reached at the end of the key stages in their education.
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