Sheffield headteachers today hit out at Government changes to GCSEs as the city’s schools reported some of the most volatile results in years.
A new emphasis on end of course exams, major changes to the English curriculum and tougher rules on students sitting the same subject twice had a major impact on some secondaries.
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Heads and senior staff worst affected said they had been stunned by falls in their pass rates and by the reactions of their disappointed students.
Schools most affected included Fir Vale, down 13 per cent, Firth Park, down 12, and Handsworth Grange, down five.
Pass rates were also slightly down at All Saints, Birley, Meadowhead and Notre Dame, with heads saying they were pleased considering the background of a turbulent year.
But there were success stories too. Yewlands Academy at Parson Cross was the city’s most improved school with a pass rate of 51 per cent, up 15.
Outwood Academy City at Stradbroke was up ten on 53 per cent, Parkwood Academy at Shirebrook had a record pass rate of 51 per cent while Sheffield Park Academy on the Manor reached a new high, on 65.
There were increases too at Stocksbridge High, Tapton and Silverdale, while High Storrs and King Edward VII did as well as last year.
Breffni Martin, head at Fir Vale, said her intake included some of the city’s most vulnerable youngsters and her school had been ‘hammered’ by the reforms.
“It is bad news in the end for the kids, it really is - there are going to be a lot of very unhappy families in this area,” she said.
“I have had to go and tell youngsters they haven’t got the grades they need for sixth form places, for apprenticeships, for college courses they were hoping for.
“Many heads are absolutely shocked by the results they have received - we were stunned when we went through our figures.”
Steve Fowler, head at Meadowhead, said his figures were based on the final results his students had achieved - not the ones he would have to submit to the Department of Education which exclude resit grades.
“I’m using the real results, not ones produced by exams where students have seen the rules change underneath their feet.
“I’d support calls for schools to produce alternative league tables - parents need to see figures based on something real as opposed to a clearly false picture,” he added.
Paul Sharpe, deputy headteacher at All Saints RC High, said it had been a bit of a stormy year.
“Considering all the turbulence we are seeing across the city we are very pleased with our pass rate of 58 per cent, which is four down on last year.”