School league tables: Government delivers its verdict on Hartlepool schools

The Government has today published new secondary school league tables - with all but one of the town's schools falling below the new Progress 8 benchmark.

By Sue Kirby
Thursday, 24 January, 2019, 11:16
Happy faces on GCSE day at The English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College.

In Hartlepool two of the secondary schools were classed as below average for the benchmark and two were classed as well below.

Peter McMahon, deputy headteacer at The English Martyrs School and Sixth Form in Hartlepool.

The Progress 8 score shows how much progress pupils made between the end of key stage 2 and the end of key stage 4, based on results in up to eight qualifications, including English, maths, three English Baccalaureate qualifications, including sciences, computer science, history, geography and languages, and three other additional approved qualifications.

A score above zero means pupils made more progress, on average, than similar schools and below zero means they made less, but a negative progress score does not mean pupils made no progress, or the school has failed.

However, a new study from the University of Bristol has suggested that 40% of schools currently judged as underperforming would not fall into this catergory if pupil ethnicity, deprivation and special needs were taken into account and that the tables punish schools by ignoring student backgrounds.

In Hartlepool The English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College bucked the trend and was the only secondary in the town to score average with a Progress 8 score of -0.13, putting it top of the Government's tables for overall performance.

Coun Brenda Harrison.

Peter McMahon, deputy headteacher at the school, said: "We are delighted with our results.

"It is a testament to the hard work of the students and the hard work of our staff who are committed to going the extra mile to ensure the pupils fulfill their potential.

"The staff work so hard and we had a good year group last year. We are hoping for even better results this year.

"Like other schools in the town we have high aspirations for our children."

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Dyke House Sports and Technology College.

Coun Brenda Harrison, Chairman of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Children’s Services Committee, said: "We are pleased with the improvements which Hartlepool’s secondary schools are making in the current national context of changes to examination systems and schools funding.

"Some of our secondary schools perform at or above national standards, which is masked by crude average figures.

"Our stated shared goal is to ensure that every school in Hartlepool is graded at least ‘Good’ by Ofsted, and we are on target to reach this with 87% of all schools rated ‘Good’ or better."

When it comes to A-levels, it was Dyke House Sports and Technology College which has taken the top overall performance spot with a Progress 8 score - calculated on progress made between the end of key stage 4 and end of A level studies compared to similar students - of 0.03.

In County Durham the top slot for GCSEs with an above average Progress 8 score of 0.47 went to Sedgefield Community College and The Academy at Shotton Hall in Peterlee got a high score of 0.21.

St Bede's Catholic Comprehensive School and Byron College in Peterlee was the top scoring East Durham school for A-levels with a Progress 8 score of 0.13.

Commenting on the secondary school performance tables, published today by the Department for Education, Nansi Ellis, Assistant General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: "School performance tables are not an accurate or reliable indicator of school effectiveness.

"The Progress 8 measure that is used to compile these tables is inherently flawed. Using the grade a child achieved in primary school in two subjects is not a safe starting point against which to assess their attainment five years later. Nor does it take into account all the additional problems and factors that affect pupil attainment.

"The tables can also disadvantage schools in economically and socially deprived areas. Many good schools fall in the bottom half of the tables simply because they serve poorer communities.

"There is a well-established link between child poverty and academic attainment, yet performance tables fail to reflect the hard work that schools put in to try and compensate for the poverty that many children experience.

"Damian Hinds must look at the evidence, stop this inaccurate and misleading use of data and move towards accountability that gives a true picture of the work and attainment of schools."