GCSE rankings don’t tell students’ success stories, says school head

Published on: 26 Feb 2016

Leaders at a Filton secondary school have spoken out following the publication of performance tables they say have failed to reflect the individual successes of its students and progress in many subject areas.
The Department for Education figures released at the end of January showed that 42 per cent of pupils at Abbeywood Community School achieved five or more A*-C grades in their GCSEs including maths and English in 2015.
The highest among South Gloucestershire schools was John Cabot Academy in Kingswood, with 73 per cent of students achieving the GCSE benchmark, while the average in schools across England is 53.8 per cent.
As the tables are revealed, lists of the “best-performing” and “worst-performing” schools appear in national and local media across the country, but Abbeywood associate head teacher David Howe told Filtonvoice there are many achievements behind the headline figures.
He said: “A big thank you to all our parents and community members who have responded directly to us, and via social media, in support of the exceptional learning experience that our young people are now receiving at Abbeywood.
"Our 2015 cohort of students did not perform as well as we would have liked.  However, over a third of these students had only experienced part of their secondary education at Abbeywood and the improved teaching and learning that accelerated after we joined the Olympus Academy Trust in 2013. The students who were at Abbeywood for the full five years leading up to their GCSEs did better.
“Behind the headline figures sit many success stories for individual students and for subjects within our school.  2015 saw 100 per cent of our students leaving school to enter further education, employment or training.
“Our thriving Post 16 Centre has recently had its first student offered a place at Oxford University, Tyrese Miles became the National Junior Amateur Boxing Champion in October and Abbeywood’s U13 girls’ football team made it to the last 16 of the National 11-a-side Playstation cup and are county champions in the six a-side national competition.”
Alongside individual successes, he said, the school as a whole had earned the Achievement for All Quality Mark in the summer for work done to support learners who are vulnerable to under-achievement and disadvantaged in their learning, while in November Abbeywood beat more than 100 schools from the Bristol, Bath and Somerset region to be crowned science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) school of the year in the Graphic Science STEM Celebration 2015.
Mr Howe said the fact that  increasing number of families were applying to send their children to Abbeywood in Year
7, with full year groups for the past two years, told its own
story.
“Students currently experiencing their whole secondary school education at our school are reaping the rewards and stand to fulfil their potential.  
“They enjoy state-of-the-art £30 million buildings and equipment, brand new in 2010, incorporating extensive sporting and leisure facilities, including flood-lit all-weather pitch,
sports hall, and music recording studio.
“The community has noticed the change for the better and now has confidence in Abbeywood to provide the education they want and expect for their children.”

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