Two city schools fail to reach national GCSE targets

Voyager Academy
Voyager Academy
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Two Peterborough secondary schools fell below the national standard for GCSE results, it has been revealed.

While GCSE results day is a happy occasion for many youngsters, pupils at the Voyager Academy and St John Fisher School in Peterborough missed the target of 40 per cent of pupils gaining five GCSEs at grade A*- C including English and maths.

Sean Hayes, head teacher at St John Fisher RC School. ENGEMN00120131211162103

Sean Hayes, head teacher at St John Fisher RC School. ENGEMN00120131211162103

A number of other city schools only narrowly scored above the benchmark, the latest verified school league tables revealed.

The lowest mark was scored at The Voyager Academy in Walton, with just 19 per cent of youngsters gaining the required grades in 2015. This was a drop from 40 per cent the previous year.

Scott Hudson, Principal of The Voyager Academy, said progress was being made at the school to try and improve results and standards.

The school was placed in special measures in 2014 following an Ofsted visit.

He said “The league tables published today reflect last year’s GCSE results. I was aware when I joined The Voyager as principal in July 2015 that performance at the school was not what it should be. Since then, my new senior management team and I have been implementing significant interventions that will improve outcomes for all our students.

“We are already seeing some positive changes as a result of our work, particularly in levels of behaviour and attendance - as evidenced in the latest Ofsted monitoring inspection report.

“Our Sixth Form’s consistently strong performance should also not be overlooked – this year we have our highest ever numbers of UCAS applications, some of which are for the top universities in the country.

“I remain confident that by maintaining the drive for improvement at the Academy, and working with Comberton Academy Trust and our partners at Peterborough City Council and the Regional Schools Commissioner’s office, we will continue to see improvement across all areas of the Academy.”

St John Fisher Catholic High School, in Park Lane, saw 37 per cent of pupils reach the five GCSEs at A*-C including English and maths grade.

Head teacher Sean Hayes said he was confident of improved results next year.

Mr Hayes said: “We were disappointed with the results, being just below the floor grade.

“Ofsted said we are a good school in their last inspection report.

“We believe the grades were lower than we expected because the grade boundaries changed in the summer.

“Some schools were affected by one of the English and maths grade boundaries changing, but the exam boards for both English and maths we use changed the grades.

“Had that not happened, we believe we would have been at roughly the same level as we were in 2014 (when the school had a 46 per cent grade).

“The cohort of pupils which took the exams in 2015 had a large number who were on the grade C/Grade D boundary in the predicted grades.

“We are confident that the latest results will just be a blip.”

Mr Hayes said the results had also been hit by a large number of pupils joining the school part way through the system.

He said: “Our value added mark (the grade which shows how pupils develop over their time at the school) is above the national average.

“We have had a large turnover of students - one quarter of the pupils who took the exams did not start their school career with us.

“While we are disappointed with the overall score, the main disappointment is for individual youngsters who did not get the grades they needed to move on and carry on with their studies, or take apprenticeships.”

Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said the next OFSTED report at the Voyager Academy - expected shortly after a recent visit - would be key to the school’s future.

He said: “With respect to Voyager, I am awaiting news of the OFSTED Inspection which took place a week or so ago.

“Whatever the results, Comberton Academy Trust need to step away permanently, having failed to significantly turn the school around and as I understand it, another Academy has agreed to take over as sponsor.

“If that doesn’t work out, the Secretary of State needs to act to close the school which is not far off non viable in terms of pupil numbers and then arrange for a free school to step in, as a last resort.

“I obviously hope that won’t be necessary.

“With regard to St John Fisher, the results are poor but they need more time to put forward a proper short term recovery plan in association with the Local Education Authority.”

Other schools which struggled last year included The Deepings School, which saw results drop from 60 per cent to 42 per cent, Hampton College, which dropped from 74 per cent in 2014 to 49 per cent in 2015, and Ken Stimpson School, which scored 41 per cent.

While some schools saw a drop in results leaving pupils and staff disappointed, there was good news for some other schools.

Jack Hunt School saw 56 per cent of pupils gain the required score, while Nene Park Academy jumped six per cent to score 46 per cent.

Thomas Deacon Academy saw a 10 per cent leap in results, from 39 per cent to 49 per cent.

The Kings School scored 83 per cent, with The Peterborough School gaining 89 per cent.

Overall, the percentage of pupils gaining the required marks across the city stayed at the same level, which, alongside a drop in the national average, meant Peterborough closed the gap to the rest of the country - although results are still below the national average.

Councillor John Holdich, Leader of the council and cabinet member for education, skills and university, said the overall results were an indication the city was moving forwards.

He said: “These official results reveal the proportion of pupils in Peterborough achieving at least five GCSEs at A* to C including English and mathematics is 50 per cent.

“This is the same level as in 2014 and we have narrowed the gap to the national average for this year by one per cent.

“It is important to say these results reflect a great deal of hard work by both students and teachers, since the pass mark in examinations this year is higher than it has been before.

“However, following a number of years of improving grades at GCSE level, we recognise there is work to be done and we will continue to support and challenge all city schools as we want our results to advance each year.

“Attainment in English and maths results are a priority. Progress in maths has improved by six per cent from last year, which is a good improvement and we will now push for it to close on the national average.

“These results also show we are in line with the national average for progress in English.

“This is an excellent achievement given that more than a quarter of the students taking these exams had English as a second or other language.”