Learning bases toast biggest improvement in a decade
SHEFFIELD’S secondary schools are on the up and up - after producing GCSE results which have shown the biggest improvement for a decade.
The city’s 16-year-olds achieved a pass rate of 49.2 per cent last summer at five or more A* to C grades, including the key subjects of English and maths.
The figure is nearly five per cent up on the previous year - and substantially better than the improvement nationally.
It means the city is at long last closing the gap on the national average, a long term objective for education chiefs for many years.
The progress is revealed in official government figures released today and maintains a healthy recent trend - back in 2006 the pass rate was only 37 per cent.
Some of the best performances were at previously struggling schools. At Yewlands in Parson Cross, the pass rate was up by 16 per cent to 43, nearby Chaucer rose eight per cent to 30, while Myers Grove at Stannington had an excellent year, up by 19 per cent to 51.
Newfield School at Norton Lees, which was on the failing list until late last year, also came back strongly with a 12 per cent improvement.
Coun Colin Ross, cabinet member for children’s services, was quick to praise the hard work of both teachers and pupils.
“This achievement is a direct result of the push to raise attainment and aspiration levels of all pupils across the city,” he said.
“We said that raising aspirations and outcomes in Sheffield schools was our number one priority, and we are now beginning to see a difference.
“But we cannot be complacent. We want to see even more improvements in future years, as there is still a lot to do to reach the level where the city should be.”
There was good news, too, for the city’s three Academies - Parkwood at Shirecliffe was up by six per cent, but is still below the 30 per cent minimum pass rate set by the last government and which is likely to be kept in place by the Coalition.
Springs and Park, both run by the United Learning Trust, also made progress after a difficult first four years.
Springs at Arbourthorne saw its results improve by nine per cent, while Park on the Manor was up by six.
But all three academies still have problems - they still have poor attendance records with Park’s one of the worst in the country.
Meanwhile, another ULT academy in Barnsley was one of the most improved schools in the country, up by a remarkable 32 per cent in a single year.
ULT deputy chief executive Kathy August, who has been closely involved with all three schools, said the academies were clearly heading in the right direction.
“We have always said that improving these schools would be a marathon rather than a sprint,” she said.
“We are determined to maintain this trend, but there are a wide range of indicators to take into account - there is still much work to do on attendance, for example.
“The GCSE pass rate is only the tip of the iceberg. But if families can see we are clearly heading in the right direction then we will get their support,” she added.
Sheffield’s A-level results were healthy as usual, comparing well with other neighbouring authorities.
Performance in the city has also improved on national measures, with the average A-Level student now gaining the equivalent of a C grade.