Saturday, 23 January 2016

Very different system in the UK

From Yahoo News UK

More than a quarter of a million children are getting a sub-standard education, figures reveal.

This includes youngsters at three of the Government’s flagship free schools.

Hundreds of state secondary schools fell below base targets, failing to ensure that enough pupils gained five good GCSE grades and made sufficient progress in English and maths, the statistics show.

An analysis of the data, conducted by the Press Association, also reveals that a child’s chances of attending a decent school still depend heavily on where they live, with some areas having ten or more under-performing secondaries, while some have none.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said that the results, based on last summer’s GCSE grades, show how far the nation has come in raising standards, but added that the Government still has to tackle the ‘pockets of persistent under-performance’.

Overall, 329 state secondary schools in England did not meet the minimum benchmarks this year. Of these, 312 failed to ensure that at least 40 per cent of their pupils gained at least five C grades at GCSE, including English and maths, and that students make good enough progress in these two core subjects.

The other 17 schools were among 327 schools that opted in to a new 'Progress 8’ performance measure, which looks at the progress of pupils across eight subjects and fell below a certain threshold for this target. From next year, all schools will be measured against 'Progress 8’.

The Department for Education does not publish a list of schools falling below its floor targets but according to the analysis, using the DfE’s methodology for calculating under-performing schools, three of those falling below the benchmark this year were free schools - a key part of Conservative education reforms.

These schools are: Robert Owen Academy, in Hereford; Saxmundham Free School, in Suffolk; and St Michael’s Catholic Secondary School in Camborne, Cornwall – which was the only state secondary school to fall below the floor standard in the county.

A total of 188 under-performing schools are academies, the analysis shows, while 50 are council-run schools, 45 are foundation schools, 14 are voluntary-aided and the others include university technical colleges, studio schools and further education colleges catering to 14 to 16-year-olds.

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Failing: St Michael’s Catholic Secondary School 

A DfE spokesman said that free schools are a key part of the Government’s drive for educational excellence.

'The number of free schools with exam results is still too small to allow robust conclusions to be drawn,’ he insisted. 'But under-performance at any school is unacceptable, and one of the strengths of the free schools programme is that when we spot failure we can act quickly.’

In total, 250,955 youngsters are being taught in under-performing state secondary schools, the data reveals. This is down from last year, when around 274,351 were in schools considered failing.

The Press Association’s analysis also shows that five areas have at least 10 under-performing schools. These are Kent (20 schools), Birmingham (11), Lancashire (11), Lincolnshire (10) and Northamptonshire (10).

At the other end of the scale, there were 41 areas with no failing schools.

Mr Gibb said: 'The results show how far we have come in raising standards, but they also highlight where some pupils are still at risk of falling behind.’

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Union of Head Teachers, said: 'Unfortunately there has been so much change that the national statistics generated by the government are increasingly dubious. Comparing one year with another, or one group of schools with another, is precarious at best when the very basis of measurement is different each time.

'The government must be careful what conclusions it draws.’

Schools that are considered under-performing face intervention, such as being turned into an academy or given a new sponsor to try to raise standards.

This story included a list of the 329 state schools falling below the Government’s floor standards for secondaries, according to a Press Association analysis using the Department for Education’s (DfE) methodology for calculating under-performing schools. The DfE does not publish a list of schools it considers below its benchmarks.

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