Southwark schools have much to celebrate after three ranked among the top in the country for their GCSE results and pupils outperformed the national average in general.
Figures released by the Department for Education on Thursday, January 19, contain the official, revised results for students who completed their GCSEs in 2016, and include a range of data on how each school performed.
This is the first time every school in the country has been rated by the Government’s new measures, ‘Attainment 8’ and ‘Progress 8’, which were introduced with the aim of offering broader information about how a school is serving its pupils.
The Government’s floor target for Progress 8 is -0.5, with a score of 0 meaning a pupil made expected progress, and a positive score above this meaning a pupil made better progress than expected.
The maximum number of points a school can score for the Attainment 8 measure is 80 points per pupil. The national average across all state secondary schools was 49.9 this year.
Following the performance tables shake-up, many schools who traditionally topped the charts have this year been knocked off the top spots.
Three schools in the borough were celebrating on Thursday after making it into the top 20 in the country for Progress 8 scores, according to the DfE.
Harris Girls’ Academy East Dulwich ranked eighth in the country under the new Progress 8 measure alone, with an impressive score of 0.93.
St Thomas the Apostle College ranked thirteenth with a score of 0.91, and Sacred Heart Catholic School ranked eighteenth with a score of 0.80.
As a whole, Southwark achieved above the national average, including scoring 0.22 in Progress 8 and 52.9 in Attainment 8.
The figures show that 69.3 per cent of pupils in Southwark achieved a grade C or above in English and maths GCSE compared to the national average of 59.3 per cent, and 35.8 per cent achieved the English baccalaureate compared with 23.1 per cent nationally.
Serge Cefai, head of Sacred Heart and executive head of St Thomas, said the Southwark community should be very proud of the results.
“To have both of my schools in the top 20 in the country for the new measure I think I need to retire because I don’t think it gets any better than this,” he said.
“We are delighted and Southwark should be proud; it’s a testament to what can be done.
“To get so high up on the national figure is something that everyone should celebrate.
“For me, I would like to thank both schools – Sacred Heart and St Thomas – and I would like to mention Mr Connolly, headteacher at St Thomas, who has been fundamental to us being able to turn that school around.”
Carrie Senior, principal at Harris Girls’ Academy East Dulwich, was also delighted with her school’s results.
“We’re delighted to have achieved such incredible results with our girls, results which mean that girls achieve nearly a grade higher in their GCSEs at Harris Girls’ than the national average,” she said.
“It’s really down to the hard work, commitment and resilience of the girls, their teachers and parents.
“Being eighth nationally for progress and top in Southwark is a bonus. The most important thing for us is that the girls at HGAED leave here ready to take on the world and we’re proud that we’ve helped them to get the qualifications that will enable them do just that.”
Cllr Victoria Mills, cabinet member for children and schools at Southwark Council, added: “These are fantastic results, demonstrating how hard Southwark pupils and schools have worked to achieve their very best.
“At a time when funding for schools across London is threatened, these results send a clear message to Government: they must not put results like this at risk by cutting funding for our schools.”
For the full table of results, pick up the Southwark News on January 26
The five best-performing schools in Southwark:
- Harris Girls’ Academy East Dulwich
Attainment 8: 58.3
Progress 8: 0.93
A*-C grades in English and maths: 80%
- St Thomas the Apostle College
Attainment 8: 56.8
Progress 8: 0.91
A*-C grades in English and maths: 83%
- Sacred Heart Catholic School
Attainment 8: 57.4
Progress 8: 0.80
A*-C grades in English and maths: 79%
- Harris Boys’ Academy East Dulwich
Attainment 8: 54.4
Progress 8: 0.53
A*-C grades in English and maths: 69%
- The Charter School
Attainment 8: 57.0
Progress 8: 0.32
A*-C grades in English and maths: 77%
The new league tables explained:
How have the league tables changed?
Until this year, secondary school performance has been judged mainly by what proportion of pupils get five GCSEs at grade A*-C, including English and maths.
These will now be used by the government to judge whether schools are performing adequately.
Why have they been changed?
For many years, teachers and heads had complained that to judge a school by its results in five GCSEs alone was unfair, because it did not offer broader information about the ability of the pupils being taught.
Obviously if a high-achieving child comes to a school, it will not take as much effort to get them to a good GCSE grade as it would a lower-achieving child.
So schools which were working more challenging pupils with low prior attainment were effectively marked down in the league tables, because this extra challenge was not considered.
There was also concern that the benchmark only assessed pupils who got results at grade C and above. The new measure takes into account achievement from grades A*-G.
What is Progress 8?
In basic terms, it aims to measure how well a school is serving its pupils by looking at where they started and where they end up.
It does this by looking at attainment in eight GCSE, or equivalent, subjects from grade A*-G for each pupil.
These results are then compared against the results of other pupils who came into secondary schools nationally with the same attainment levels.
A figure for those results across the school year group is then calculated. This result is then set within confidence levels, which set out how accurate the government believes the Progress 8 score is.
Progress 8 scores generally fall somewhere between -1 and 1.
The number (which is pretty abstract to all but the statisticians, as Progress 8 scores generally fall somewhere between -1 and 1) is then placed into one of five bands:
- well above average
- above average
- below average
- well below average.
It is these bandings which will be of most use to parents.
What is Attainment 8?
Attainment 8 is about the raw results across individual pupils’ best eight subjects.
But they are not just any old subjects. English and maths are compulsory – and worth double points.
Then there is the choice of three subjects from the English Baccalaureate (core academic subjects), and any other three from the DfE’s approved list of qualifications – including vocational qualifications.
The results are only recorded at the school level and an average score per pupil is calculated and published.
The maximum number of points per school is 80 points per pupil. The national average across all state secondary school is 49.9 this year.
Why the move to eight subjects?
The short answer is that it is thought to be fairer to see a pupil’s best achievement across a broader spectrum of subjects.
Teachers and head teachers had complained that the five good GCSEs measure was too narrow.
They also argued that the more recently introduced English Baccalaureate was too prescriptive and only relevant for the more academic students.
If attainment across a broader range of subjects are be counted, then arts subjects and vocational qualifications count for something in school accountability as well.