Hertfordshire schools ranked on pupils’ performance for first time

A-level results

A-level results - Credit: Archant

Schools in St Albans and Harpenden have been ranked for pupils’ performance in new education progress league tables.

Townsend school

Townsend school - Credit: Archant

It’s is the first time schools have been judged on the basis of the controversial new Progress 8 system which sees pupils’ performance given a point score based on the progress made since they left primary school.

It is also the first time the new system of GCSE grades has been used in the calculation, with pupils now graded 1 to 9 instead of A to G.

Ten mainstream secondary schools in Hertfordshire were graded ‘below average’ in the tables including Townsend School in St Albans.

But many headteachers feel the Progress 8 mark, which determines where they are ranked in the league tables, does not necessarily reflect good grades achieved by pupils at GCSE level unless they have achieved significantly more highly than their primary school-leaving grades suggested they would.

Heads believe therefore that the second figure known as ‘attainment’ which is an average calculation of the numbers of 1 to 5 (previously A* to C) is more reflective of how well schools are doing.

St Albans Girls’ School (STAGS) in Sandridgebury Lane was ranked well above average, with 75 per cent of pupils receiving Grade 5 or above in English and maths GCSEs. The school received a Progress 8 score of 0.51. Of the pupils, 98 per cent will be staying in education or entering employment.

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STAGS headteacher Margaret Chapman said: “We are delighted with the performance of our students once again. It is as a result of their hard work and dedication and the support of staff and parents.”

St George’s School in Harpenden was also well above average, with a Progress 8 score of 0.65. Eighty-one percent of pupils acheived Grade 5 or above in English and maths, and 99 per cent of pupils continue into further education or employment.

Loreto School on Hatfield Road was ranked even higher up the league tables, receiving a Progress 8 score of 0.72. Ninety-nine per cent of pupils are continuing into higher education or employment, and 65 per cent of pupils received Grade 5 or above in English and maths.

Sandringham School ranked the highest out of all the schools in Hertfordshire with available data, with a Progress 8 score of 0.85. Seventy-six per cent of pupils achieved Grade 5 or above in English and maths, and 98 per cent of pupils are continuing with education or employment.

Headteacher Alan Gray said: “Delighted that so many school sin Hertfordshire have performed highly which demonstrates the outstanding work taking place in our local schools.

“This is a result of highly trained staff working with extremely talented and diligent students, determined to do well.

“For Sandringham, we are pleased the efforts of students and staff have once again resulted in significant progress enabling young people to continue to the next phase of their education with confidence. Well done everyone!”

While those three schools were the only local schools to place well above average, schools which received an ‘above average’ rating include Beaumont, Verulam, Samuel Ryder and Nicholas Breakspear in St Albans and Roundwood Park and Sir John Lawes School in Harpenden.

Specialist schools, such as Batchwood School and St Luke’s in Redbourn, were automatically placed lower down because they do not offer subjects across a range of areas.

The only mainstream school with a ‘below average’ Progress 8 score was Townsend School in High Oaks, at -0.33. Forty-one per cent of pupils achieved Grade 5 or above in maths and English, although 98 per cent of pupils continue in education or employment after finishing GCSEs.

Townsend head Andrew Wellbeloved said: “We are aware of the data and the results are disappointing particularly as the previous years were so good. Sadly no surprises as our predictions were accurate. Every year group is different in make-up and we put in place significant intervention strategies to help the children to succeed to their full ability.

“All but one child in Year 11 and all Year 13 children either left Townsend to go into work, further education/training or stayed on into our 6th Form. That is a huge success given the cohort.

“Individually we have celebrated many great results but the way our school successes are shown in the performance tables is a disappointment.

“We urge people to come and see what we do for our children first hand or to read our Ofsted report to see the sort of education we provide for children.

“Providing a good education is not simply about exam results – Townsend School will continue to provide a full rounded education for all of our young people so that they can leave Townsend qualified, skilled, resilient, respectful and happy young people well prepared to take their place in a challenging world.”

Marlborough Academy was the only local school to receive an ‘average’ rating.

The Herts Ad also tried to contact Sandringham and Loreto for comment but did not receive any responses.