Schools in Suffolk’s top 10 for league table measure

Pupils at St Benedict's Catholic School, in Bury St Edmunds, celebrate their GCSE results last year

Two schools in the Bury St Edmunds area are in Suffolk’s top 10 for GCSE progress.

St Benedict’s Catholic School, in Bury, came fifth and Ixworth Free School was eighth after both achieving an ‘above average’ Progress 8 score in the latest league table, published by the Department for Education.

Students at Ixworth Free School with their GCSE results last year - Picture courtesy of James Fletcher, Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust

Progress 8 measures the progress a pupil makes from the end of primary school to the end of secondary school by comparing their results to the progress of other pupils nationally who had a similar starting point.

Kate Pereira, headteacher at St Benedict’s, said they were ‘delighted’ with their score.

“It’s down to the hard work of staff and students and strong parental involvement and this has paid off,” she said.

“Our teachers go above and beyond to help and support our students.

“I also think it’s down to the quality of teaching which is very high at St Benedict’s, resulting in students making good progress here.”

Among the other headline measures, the school achieved 50 in its Attainment 8 score, which measures the average achievement of pupils in up to eight qualifications including English and maths.

St Benedict’s also saw 49 per cent of pupils gain a Grade 5 or above in English and maths GCSEs.

The Grade 5 headline measure has caused concern nationally as pupils last year were judged by a different standard and were considered to have passed their exams if they achieved a grade 4 or above.

Mrs Pereira said the Grade 5 measure seemed a ‘little bit unfair considering a 4 is the equivalent of the old C grade’.

However, she noted that she could ‘see the Government is trying to improve attainment in English and maths across the board’.

The Government’s Progress 8 floor standard is -0.5 and the national average for state schools was -0.03.

Mark Barrow, headteacher at Ixworth Free School, said they were in the top 10 per cent of schools nationally following their Progress 8 score of 0.44.

“The strategy of focusing our resources on student outcomes has paid off,” he said.

“We are incredibly proud of students for their hard work and achievements during our first ever GCSE results last year and we look forward to building on our success for the future.”

County Upper School and King Edward VI School achieved ‘average’ Progress 8 scores of 0.11 and -0.06 respectively.

Vicky Neale, headteacher at County Upper, said: “Despite all the changes we are very pleased that, yet again, we are above both the national and Suffolk averages on all four main measures, including being almost 20 percentage points above on the broad measure of performance across English, maths, the sciences, humanities and languages.

“We have achieved this whilst also doing well in the creative subjects and maintaining a full programme of extra-curricular activities so that our students have an excellent all-round education.

“The new system, though designed to be fairer, is difficult for parents to understand, there are a number of acknowledged ‘teething problems’ with the Progress 8 measure and moving the higher pass from a 4 to a 5 is adding to the confusion.”

Lee Walker, headteacher at King Edward VI, added: “We are delighted that the hard work of our students, and those who support them tirelessly both in school and at home, is recognised in the school performance tables.

“In a year which has seen new grading systems in English and maths, making comparison with previous years impossible, we were very proud of our young people and the way they coped with the new specifications and grading.”

Suffolk has seen a fall in its Progress 8 score after achieving -0.01 compared to 0.02 last year.

The county council says it is ranked 64th out of 151 local authorities for GCSE progress.

Cllr Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills, said: “I would like to congratulate all the pupils, teachers and parents across the county for their hard work which is reflected in achieving these results.

“Although we have seen a small fall in our GCSE progress, we remain above the national average and in the top half of education authorities across the country.”

For more league table results, see next Friday’s Bury Free Press newspaper.

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