Bury St Edmunds headteachers give a mixed verdict on Suffolk’s improvement in GCSE tables

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Bury St Edmunds headteachers have given a mixed reaction to the latest national league table results for GCSE which show Suffolk making a slight improvement.

The authority jumped to 137th out of 151 in the Key Stage 4 performance results after being placed 142nd last year - with 54.6 per cent of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs at A*-C including English and maths. It is 6.4 per cent off the national average.

Cllr Lisa Chambers, cabinet member for education, said the county was ‘closing the gap’ on the national average but the ‘pace of improvement needs to increase’ - pointing to the Raising the Bar programme as a way of boosting attainment.

In West Suffolk, the ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rated County Upper School emerged top state school with 77 per cent getting five or more A*-Cs .

Head Vicky Neale said: “We’re delighted to be at the top of West Suffolk again and one of the top three schools in Suffolk. Performance across the board at both GCSE and A-level is exceptionally strong and I thank and congratulate our students, staff, parents and governors.” However, Mrs Neale felt their delight was ‘tempered’ by the overall picture in the county. She added: “Whilst it is good to see some improvement after last year’s problem with English in many schools, it is sad to see that the gap between the national figure and Suffolk’s is so much larger than it was two years ago.”

King Edward VI School, which recently held onto its ‘good’ ranking with Ofsted, achieved 58 per cent.

Head Geoff Barton said: “The performance tables show just how well students continue to achieve at our school - despite the fact that we never use early entry or other gimmicks to boost our league table position.”

He said the figures were ‘especially positive’ for their Sixth Form which is ‘now ranked in the top 15 per cent nationally’. Noting the results pre-dated Raising the Bar, he said there should from now be further improvements. Mr Barton explained: “If you take the resources, energy and leadership Raising the Bar promise us, we ought to be seeing Suffolk where it should be - back near the top.”

St Benedict’s Catholic had 53 per cent. Head Hugh O’Neill said: “For Suffolk it looks like the signs are positive. Even without Raising the Bar coming on stream there was an improvement which hopefully will continue to increase pace-wise.” He said their A-level results were the ‘best in Suffolk’ and they were in the top 100 of all schools. Mr O Neill added: “We’ve work to do to get our GCSE results back upto our previous high levels.”