Rip up the book says MP as he calls for change to education in Peterborough

Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson.
Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson.
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MP Stewart Jackson is calling for a root-and-branch overhaul of learning in Peterborough’s secondary schools after sliding down the league table for GCSE results:

A complete overhaul of secondary education is needed in Peterborough according to its MP Stewart Jackson who says there are no excuses as he calls on the city council to make education its top priority.

His comments follow the release of school league tables which show Peterborough is in the bottom 20 of the 151 local authorities in England and Wales for GCSE results.

In more positive news, Peterborough was ranked 35th for its A-level results.

Results released on Thursday, 24 January, showed an average of 50 per cent of pupils at Peterborough schools got five or more A* to C grades at GCSE or equivalent including English and maths.

This was a significant fall on last year’s figure of 56.2 per cent.

Last year, Peterborough was ranked 126th out of the 151 authorities but has now slipped down to 134th place.

That is still higher than the 144th position achieved in 2013.

City council cabinet member for education John Holdich said this year was a “freak set of results” which had been impacted by changes in the way grades were counted.

However, Mr Jackson is adamant that the time for excuses has to stop.

He said: “Even allowing for the changes in the grading by the Department for Education and the very large number of pupils with English as their second language, these results are very poor and extremely disappointing.

“It’s possible to turn round poor performing schools, as we have seen at say St John Fisher, but it takes time.

“Nothing now is as important as driving up academic standards and the time for excuses has got to end.

“We need a root and branch overhaul of secondary education in Peterborough and the city council must make this their top priority.

“Funding is not the issue – we need strong leadership, better discipline and rigour in all subjects.”

Shailesh Vara, MP for North-West Cambridgeshire, also agreed that changes to how grades were counted should not be used as an excuse.

He said: “It is good that local schools have done well with the A-Level results but the GCSE results are disappointing.

“I understand the change in criteria for GCSE results this year but we have to recognise that the results this year and in recent years have been at the bottom end of the league tables and we therefore need to look beyond the changed criteria for a more overall general improvement.”

The highest rank in the city was achieved by the King’s School where 90 per cent of pupils achieved five or more A* to C GCSE grades including English and maths.

At the foot of the table was the Iqra Academy at 35 per cent for the same criteria.

Speaking after the results were announced, Cllr Holdich claimed that many schools had entered pupils earlier in the year for subjects because if they had not achieved their expected grades in November they could re-sit exams the following summer.

However, he said the changes to the way the government calculated results meant that early results were counted and not the higher grades many achieved in re-sits later on.

He said: “In the case of at least one city school that I am aware of this was as many as 40 per cent of pupils.

“This is a freak set of results because of the changes to the system and I’m convinced that when it settles down we will be higher up the league table.

Responding to Mr Jackson’s comments he added: “Peterborough has the fastest improving schools in the country. Over 80 per cent of our schools are rated good by Ofsted and our school improvement team has the highest rating possible.

“Our schools benefit from strong leadership, excellent discipline and rigour across all subjects. To suggest otherwise is doing the hardworking teachers across Peterborough a disservice.”

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