League tables for schools and colleges were released today by the Department for Education. Schools Week brings back its award-winning analysis, showcasing schools with high numbers of children from low income families.
Disadvantaged pupils are once again at the heart of Schools Week’s analysis of the GCSE results pupils received in 2015 – with a number of schools making a new entry into our league tables.
The league tables (above and below) show the best performing schools in the country for pupils receiving free school meals (FSM), and were featured for the first time in our pages last year.
This year there are 14 different schools in the tables, with six appearing in both.
Ark’s King Solomon Academy, in London, makes a strong comeback this year, heading up the top of the table for schools with more than 20 per cent FSM intake from second place last year, and into second place overall from fourth last year.
The Bethnal Green Academy in Tower Hamlets, a centre of media attention after three of its pupils travelled to Syria, appears for the first time.
Both schools are in some of the most deprived areas of the country with large proportions of their pupils receiving free school meals.
Remarkably 93 and 92 per cent of their FSM pupils, respectively, achieved the national benchmark of five A*-C grades, including English and maths.
Outwood Academy Ripon, where 79 per cent of FSM pupils made the benchmark, came 10th in the high FSM intake table. It made headlines in November when 40 of its pupils fainted during a Remembrance Day assembly.
Schools minister Nick Gibb said in a statement issued by the Department for Education (DfE): “This government is giving all young people, irrespective of their background, a fair shot in life and we must not let up the pace of reform now.”
New to our league tables this year is the inclusion of the ability of pupils when they start key stage 4. Thomas Telford School in Telford and Wrekin, fourth overall, had a cohort of 72 per cent “high ability” pupils, and 91 per cent of its FSM pupils made the benchmark.
In contrast, just 24 per cent of the cohort at Bethnal Green Academy were classed as “high ability” when they started year 10, but achieved outstanding results for those pupils, as mentioned above.
Last year, 330 state schools fell below the 40 per cent “floor target” of pupils achieving five A*-C GCSEs, including English and maths, meaning 330,475 children were being taught in underperforming schools.
This year, Schools Week’s analysis shows an increase in the number of state schools failing to achieve the minimum target – up to 387 – but fewer pupils are taught in them – 307,100.
A DfE statement released on the morning of the results said the government only identified 312 schools below the threshold. It is not clear why there is this disparity.
Of those underperforming schools, 60 per cent are academies, which is roughly the same proportion of schools that are academies across the country.
This year 20 free schools had pupils take GCSEs, and 7 (35 per cent) did not meet the minimum 40 per cent pass rate.
Schools were offered the opportunity to be rated on their Progress 8 score, a measure that will become the main performance metric from next year and rates pupils’ relative performance across eight GCSEs.
Only 10 per cent of schools opted in. Among those, 17 schools (5 per cent) would be classed as underperforming. This is a much smaller rate than when using the floor target measure.
Mr Gibb said schools and pupils were “responding to this government’s vital reforms – leading to higher standards and transforming young people’s life chances”.
Institutions widely spread out for ‘value added’
The best-performing schools and colleges for “value added” are spread across the country more disparately than for GCSEs.
Focusing on value added (VA) scores – the indicator that shows how much progress students have made between the end of key stage 4 and their post-16 study – institutions from Wiltshire to Rochdale are featured in both tables (below).
Vocational courses appear to give the greatest added value, with a maximum VA of 1.39, while pupils studying A-levels had a maximum VA of 0.5.
Shirley High School is the only establishment from last year’s tables to appear again this year.
The government pointed out that more than 404,000 pupils last year stayed on for post-16 study, an increase of 6.4 per cent since 2010, though this figure has been affected by the increase of the participation age to 18.