Councillor calls for assessment into GCSE achievement drop

Councillor David Harty, cabinet member for learning

Councillor David Harty, cabinet member for learning - Credit: Archant

A COMPREHENSIVE assessment is needed into why achievement among GCSE students in Cambridgeshire has dropped, the councillor in charge of the county’s education said.

Councillor David Harty, cabinet member for learning, said county council officers needed to go into secondary schools to understand why the number of pupils achieving five or more GCSE A*-C grades, including English and maths, had fallen by four per cent on 2011 results.

Achievement before secondary school is on the increase – Early Years Foundation Stage results have risen by four per cent – but the county has slipped down the national GCSE performance table.

While most Cambridgeshire children are still meeting the minimum threshold for five A*-C grades including English and maths, with 56.9 per cent of students achieving that requirement, it is not faring particularly well in the tables. Cambridgeshire is 94th out of 152 local authorities. In 2012, it was ranked in 64th place and in 2011 it was 38th.

The low level of funding for Cambridgeshire’s schools and last summer’s sudden changes in grade boundaries, which saw many pupils get lower grades than they had been predicted, could both have played their part.


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Cllr Harty, the Little Paxton and St Neots North councillor, said CCC officers needed to examine what was happening. He said the council had focused on improving early years education because “that’s the foundation and starting point and it is important to motivate and encourage children for the future.”

A lack of support for schools could also be influencing the results. Because many schools have become academies, some of the central support they once had from the local authority has gone, Cllr Harty said.

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“Certain schools will want to have more support in terms of moving forward,” he said, adding that they would, however, have to pay for it. “They are now independent and a lot will revolve around the costs. They will have to buy support in where its necessary.”

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