Thursday, 18 October 2007

The results season

If August is the month when young people learn their GCSE and A-level results, October has become results season for the government. Yesterday saw the publication of Christine Gilbert's annual report as chief inspector (pdf). Today, the government has published the national levels of achievement at GCSE, while the Public Accounts Committee has issued its latest verdict on academies. To judge by some of the headlines, you might imagine the school system has got worse over recent years. But here are a few interesting things you might have missed.

“But academies are intended to raise educational achievement in deprived areas; lower results compared with secondary schools overall do reflect the circumstances and prior attainment of the pupils. If academies’ performance is adjusted for these factors, then on average it is substantially better than that of secondary schools overall" - Edward Leigh, Tory Chair of the Public Accounts Committee. Press release accompanying PAC report.

"Ofsted’s increased monitoring of schools about which we have concerns, including a number of schools we judged to be satisfactory, is paying off: we are finding that progress in around nine out of 10 of these schools is at least satisfactory. The Annual Report offers some encouragement. Inspections of academies are beginning to confirm a rising trend in effectiveness; there are examples of strong and effective leadership having a positive, and sometimes transformational, impact on pupils’ progress and achievement, often from a low base. Improvements in London schools, especially those in the most challenging circumstances, are outpacing those found nationally; clearly the investment provided by London Challenge is strongly associated with these improvements." - Christine Gilbert, Chief Inspector of Education; annual report p6

The percentage of pupils achieving 5+ A*-C in the 36 Academies has almost doubled since 2001 (the last year of checked data for predecessor schools) from 22.0% in 2001 to 42.2% in 2007. If we include English and mathematics the increase is 10.2 percentage points from 14.0% to 4.2%. Nationally the increase is 11.5 percentage points for 5+ A*-C and 7.4 points for 5+ A*-C including English and mathematics - DCSF Statistical press release SFR 34/2007
Also, Ofsted, which rightly toughened its inspection criteria a couple of years ago, has found 13% of primary and secondary schools to be outstanding, merely a 'slight' increase from 10% last year sniffed the Guardian. Actually, translated across all schools, it means the number of outstanding state secondary schools is up from 320 to 416, the number of outstanding primaries has risen from 1800 to 2340, while the number of inadequate schools has fallen by a quarter.

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