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Schools chief 'disappointed' by exam results
THE woman in charge of education in Oxfordshire has warned it will take longer than a year to see results improve.
Yesterday, the Department for Education released figures showing GCSE results in Oxfordshire secondary schools remained below the national average for a second year.
Only 57.9 per cent of pupils achieved five A*-C grades at GCSE, including English and maths, in Oxfordshire, compared to 58.8 per cent in England.
That marks an improvement of half a percentage point compared to 2011, while results nationally rose by 0.6 percentage points.
Oxfordshire County Council education cabinet member Melinda Tilley described the results as “a disappointment”.
But she said: “It takes a bit longer than one year to turn it round.
“We are seeing improvements, but it is slow, far slower than I would like it to be.”
She said she would like to increase the budget for the school improvement team, which sends experienced staff into schools to help drive up standards, but admitted she did not know where she would find the money.
The average point score of pupils was also below the national average, with youngsters racking up on average 336.8 points in Oxfordshire compared to 343.3 nationwide.
Last year, for the first time, the Government published data showing how well pupils did compared with their previous attainment.
The proportion of pupils who came to secondary school with low attainment achieving five A*-Cs, including English and maths, remained the same as 2011, at 5.5 per cent, and at nine secondaries, no pupils achieved the grade.
Education expert John Howson, visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University, pointed out that if you looked at data from 2006-12, while the proportion of children in England achieving the benchmark level rose from 44.1 per cent to 59 per cent, those making the grade in Oxfordshire rose from 47.5 to 57.9 per cent.
He said: “We were ahead and we are now behind. The rest of the country has taken the message they need to sharpen their education system and Oxfordshire has not.”
But he agreed it would take longer for improvements to start filtering through.
There was some good news, with more than one in five children achieving the English Baccalaureate, getting C grades or higher in English, maths, science, a language and history or geography.
That was an increase on last year’s figure of 18.8 per cent, and exceeded the national average of 16.2 per cent.
The figures showed Wallingford School, in St George’s Road, to be Oxfordshire’s top-performing state school, with 76 per cent of pupils getting five A*-C grades, including English and maths.
It was also the most improved in the county, with results rising by 15 percentage points.
Headteacher Wyll Willis said: “We didn’t do so very well a couple of years ago and, as a staff, we decided to do something about it.
“The teaching staff worked extremely hard on trying to put things right and it’s nothing very clever, just doing the basic things right all the time.
“To be able to come top when there is such tremendous competition is really very pleasing.”
Sixth form college St Clare’s, in Banbury Road, Oxford, was the top-performing school for A-Levels, with the highest average points score at 1190.4.
It is the third year running the college has won the accolade.