Hartlepool’s secondary schools received a mixed bag of results in official league tables for GCSE performance.
While Dyke House Sports & Technology College is celebrating being one of the region’s top performing schools for pupils’ progress, High Tunstall College of Science has been classed as under-performing for failing to meet a Government-set target.
Major changes to England’s exams system introduced in 2017 saw the introduction of a new grading system with maths and English GCSE results awarded new grades between one and nine, nine being the highest.
Schools are judged against a measure called Progress 8 which looks at the progress a pupil has made between the end of primary and the end of secondary school, and Attainment 8 – their results across eight GCSEs compared to their achievement of other youngsters with similar abilities.
Schools are considered to be below the Government’s floor standard if, on average, pupils score half a grade less (minus 0.5) across eight GCSEs than they would have been expected to compared to pupils of similar abilities nationally.
Dyke House achieved an impressive Progress 8 score for 2017 of 0.37 and an Attainment 8 score of 49.1.
High Tunstall’s Progress 8 score meanwhile was -0.57. Headteacher Mark Tilling reassured parents it is has put “rigorous measures” in place for a dramatic improvement this year.
Hartlepool’s other secondary schools; English Martyrs, St Hild’s and Manor Academy, and all got minus Progress 8 point scores but not enough to miss the Government’s -0.5 floor standard to make them under performing.
Andrew Jordon, executive principal at Dyke House Sports & Technology College, which is sponsored by Northern Education Trust, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for our students and we are delighted with the results which show clearly that their focus and excellent attitudes to learning have a strong and positive impact on their progress.
“We challenge and support our students every day; continually driving up standards and improving outcomes in order to enhance their life chances.”
Rob Tarn, the CEO of Northern Education Trust, praised the strong leadership of both executive principal, Mr Jordon and the principal, Andrew Murphy.
He said: “This is an excellent result for governors, parents, staff and most importantly the students. The Trust is delighted that the recent performance data ranks progress made by children at Dyke House Sports & Technology College as 11th out of 162 schools in the North East of England.”
There has been a rise nationally of schools labelled under-performing following the changes to the exam system, with more than one in eight missing the required standard.
High Tunstall College of Science, in Elwick Road, Hartlepool, said the performance tables do not highlight its many individual successes.
Mr Tilling added that comparing schools using the new measures is unreliable as some schools boost their points score by teaching quick qualifications such as the European Computer Driving Licence.
Head Mr Tilling said: “We believe that a broad curriculum with GCSE and vocational courses that are recognised and valued by employers is the correct and moral approach to take.”
He added: “We would also like to reassure our community that we have reflected upon our performance and are working with the local authority and other external partners to ensure that the rigorous measures we have put in place will dramatically improve performance for High Tunstall and Hartlepool in 2018.”
Council chiefs says town schools are improving but admit more progress is needed.
Councillor Alan Clark, chair of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Children’s Services Committee, said: “This is only the second year that this new measurement has been in place and Hartlepool’s average Progress 8 score has improved, bucking the trend both regionally and across similar local authorities to Hartlepool around the country, where there has been an overall decline in the Average Progress 8 score. Hartlepool is gradually improving but clearly more progress still has to be made and we will continue to support our schools to achieve that.”