School league tables: brightest pupils ‘going backwards’

Almost 110,000 of the brightest schoolchildren finished compulsory education last summer without gaining a string of good GCSEs in core subjects, official league tables show. This is from the Telegraph…

More than six-in-10 pupils considered the highest achievers at the start of secondary school failed to ultimately gain A* to C grades in academic disciplines demanded by employers and leading universities, it was revealed.

According to figures, fewer than half of these pupils were even entered for separate GCSEs in English, maths, two sciences, a language and either history or geography – subjects combining to form the Government’s “English Baccalaureate”.

It also emerged that 600 schools and colleges – one-in-four – failed to ensure that a single pupil gained three good A-levels in academic subjects.

The disclosure sparked fresh claims of a “culture of low aspirations” at large numbers of state comprehensives.

It comes after Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted, warned that thousands of bright teenagers were being failed by the “curse” of mixed-ability classes, with pupils aspiring for Oxbridge being given the same tuition as those at the opposite end of the ability range.

The Department for Education said every child had to be “challenged to achieve their best”.

“These results show that some children who were struggling at 11 have made real progress by the time they do their GCSEs – they are now performing as well, or even better, than we expect,” a spokesman said.

“However, there are still too many cases where the opposite is true. It is unacceptable that children who made such bright starts to their school career have fallen back into the pack by the age of 16.”

For only the second time, school-by-school league tables for England split children into three ability bands based on results in Sats tests taken at the age of 11.

It then reveals the progress made by low, average and high-achieving pupils in GCSE exams sat five years later.

According to data from the Department for Education, 176,538 pupils across England fell into the top category. But of those:

• More than 108,500 – 61.5 per cent – failed to achieve the English Baccalaureate, which is awarded to pupils with C grades or better in five academic subject areas, although it was an improvement on the 62.8 per cent last year;

• Some 54 per cent were not even entered for separate subjects that combine to make up the “EBacc”;

• Around 10,000 – one-in-20 – were unable to score at least five A* to C grades in any subject, including the basics of English and maths;

• Some 25,000 – 14 per cent – effectively went backwards in maths at secondary school by gaining worse results at 16 than they did in comparable exams at 11.

The figures also showed that 29,300 pupils – 16.5 per cent – failed to make the expected progress in English compared with just 12.8 per cent a year earlier. The dip is likely to be down to a sudden change in the GCSE English pass-rate which has prompted outrage among teachers’ leaders and led to high-profile calls for a mass re-grading of papers.

More at:  School league tables: brightest pupils ‘going backwards’

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