Exam problems hit school league tables

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Headteachers have claimed last summer’s English GCSE exam controversy is reflected in newly-released school league tables.

Thousands of students who took the GCSE English exam in June received lower grades than those who took it last January because of a change in the way papers were graded.

And headteachers say those changes have, in some cases, resulted in a drop in the percentage of pupils achieving five A*-C grade GCSEs, including English and maths – one of the main indicators used in the league tables to show how a school has performed.

Spalding High School headteacher Tim Clark said he was very pleased with the school’s GCSE results, which showed that 96 per cent of pupils achieved the benchmar – putting the school into the county’s top ten.

But he said it was slightly disappointing compared to previous years where the school had achieved 99 per cent because the school had been hit by the English exam changes.

He said: “League tables don’t tell the whole story because we had a few D grades in English because we were hit to a certain extent by the exam changes, but we also had more A and A* star grades than ever.

“Overall our results were very positive and encouraging, particularly in pupils’ progress in maths where we came out top for the whole county.”

Martyn Taylor, headteacher of the Thomas Cowley High School in Donington, where 52 per cent of pupils achieved five good GCSEs, said he was not a big fan of league tables because they were misleading and said the “unfairness” of the English exam changes had affected its results.

He said: “Overall we have performed very well – you just have to look at the figures and compare our maths students who have done well against the area’s selective schools.

“But league tables do not reflect the proportion of disadvantaged pupils in a school, for example. If you look at those you can see why some schools don’t perform as well.”

Janet Daniels, headteacher at Spalding’s Sir John Gleed School, said she was pleased with the school’s results, particularly as the school had been through a year of huge change.

She said: “Although we merged in November we continued to operate as two separate schools for the rest of the academic year.

“During that time there was massive upheaval as we restructured both the staff and the building.

“Despite this, we had a very pleasing set of results, giving us a really firm foundation upon which to build our new school.

“Now as an academy we intend to go from strength to strength, building on this excellent start.”

The Deepings School also came out well in the league tables, having 67 per cent of pupils achieve five good GCSEs, but Spalding Grammar School saw a drop from 97 per cent in 2011 to just 81 per cent in 2012.

Middlecott School in Kirton was one of the schools with the worst results – achieving just 38 per cent.

However, Lincolnshire schools continue to outstrip national GCSE results– topping the national average of five A*-C grades including English and maths by 5.3per cent.