GCSE results: The academy that still acts like a comprehensive bucks the downward trend

It may be one of the Government’s flagship academies – but Perry Beeches school in Birmingham still goes about its business in the manner of a traditional comprehensive school. This is from the Independent…

The pupils are recruited from the disadvantaged area it serves on the basis that those who live nearest the school get top priority for places – and nearly half the intake (45 per cent) are on free school meals, three times the national average.

Today, though, the school bucked the trend of a downward spiral in the GCSE pass rates to deliver record results for the seventh year in succession.

All its 180 GCSE pupils obtained at least five A* to C grade passes and 80 per cent of them included English and maths in that tally. In addition, nearly a third of the pupils achieved five A* or A grade passes.

“The school was at the very bottom of the pile six years ago and no-one wanted to come here,” said headteacher Liam Nolan. It had been failed by education standards watchdog Ofsted and just one in five pupils were reaching the five A* to C grade target with maths and English. “Now over 990 year six primary children applied for one of the 180 places available.”

The dramatic improvement in standards was achieved with largely the same management team that had been in place beforehand. “I’ve never been in favour of walk in and wipe out,” said Mr Nolan.

“It has been all about refocusing our school on academic standards – focussed on getting the best exam results we can so they (the pupils) are in the best place possible to succeed.

“There is a real drive because of the economic downturn for young people to be clicked into the idea of making the best out of things.”

At a time when putting pupils in early for GCSE exams is being criticised nationally, the school has been praised by education standards watchdog Ofsted for doing precisely that.

“This is not about putting them in early in the hope they can scrape a C grade and then dropping the subject – schools should be stopped from doing that,” said Mr Nolan. “We are looking for our brightest young people to get an A* or A grade and – if they don’t – we put them in again.”

More at:  GCSE results: The academy that still acts like a comprehensive bucks the downward trend

It’s interesting that this school is explicitly using a policy of early entry – I wonder what makes it work for them when it appears to be less successful overall? Please let us know what you think in the comments or on twitter… 

GCSE results do not testify to any dramatic change in standards
GCSE English grading row: my classroom one year on
Categories: Academies.


  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Aren’t all academies supposed to “act like a comprehensive”? Lovely results and all that, but only diff is funding agreement

  2. Janet2

    The 2012 Performance Tables show that 77% of Perry Beeches pupils reached the benchmark of 5 GCSEs A*-C including M+E.  But PB relied heavily on equivalent exams.  The average entry per pupil was 15 exams but the average entry per pupil for GCSE was only 5.7.   Another B’ham school, Park View Business and Enterprise School, had a cohort with similar previous attainment.  76% achieved the benchmark – the average number of exams taken was lower (12%) but the average number of GCSEs taken was higher (6.8).  Similarly, Hamstead Hall Community Learning Centre – similar cohort, 77% achieved the benchmark.  The average number of exams taken was 10.2; average GCSE entry was 7.8.
    It would be interesting to know how many would have reached the benchmark if equivalent exams were stripped out.

  3. Janet2

    Oversubscription figures can be misleading if they count every mention of a school in parents’ preferences.  In Birmingham, parents can name up to 6 secondary schools.  If every mention is counted from first choice to sixth choice then it makes oversubscription figures meaningless.  The only reliable oversubscription figure is the number of parents who put the school first.

  4. zsharman

    SchoolsImprove very inspiring .. So good to hear of success and triumph in these oh so depressing times in Education .. Well done

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