Earlier efforts pay off as better GCSE marks follow Sats success

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PUPILS in two Yorkshire cities have produced major improvements in their GCSE success rates this year, the latest figures have revealed.

Sheffield saw the biggest increase in the region of pupils achieving the benchmark of at least five A* to C grades including English and maths.

Bradford had the second biggest increase of the 15 education authorities in the region moving it out of the worst 10 performing areas nationally to 17th bottom.

Tables produced by the Department for Education show the proportion of pupils in Sheffield achieving the GCSE target increased from 49.4 per cent in 2011 to 55.6 per cent.

Sheffield Council said a large number of schools achieved record results with many recording double figure improvements including: Hinde House, Firth Park, Birley, Westfield, Parkwood Academy, Sheffield Park Academy, Ecclesfield, Chaucer, Newfield and All Saints.

Councillor Jackie Drayton, the cabinet member for children, young people and families said: “These are excellent results and show that Sheffield is moving in the right direction. It’s a tribute to all the hard work by pupils, their parents and carers, and staff in our schools.

“I am passionate that every child and young person in Sheffield should have the opportunity to reach their full potential, and we have to remember that the process for achieving good GCSE and A Level results begins much earlier on. These results follow record improvements in our primary school Sats results last summer, so it is encouraging that we are seeing this level of improvement at every stage of school life.”

More than half the pupils in Bradford achieved five good GCSEs including English and maths.

The figure went up by 4.9 per cent from 47.5 per cent in 2011 to 52.4 per cent last year. This is compared with a national average increase of 0.4 per cent.

One school in the district fell below the 40 per cent target for pupils getting five A* to C including English and maths.

Coun Ralph Berry, the executive member for children’s services said, however, that Buttershaw had been pushed below this benchmark because of the way English GCSE grade boundaries had been moved by some exam boards between January and June.

He added: “These record results are evidence of the hard work going on in our secondary schools to close the gap with the national performance. I am delighted the gap has closed at GCSE in any subject and is narrower when English and maths are included.

“Congratulations should go to the students and all who have helped them bring about this achievement. We are working with our secondary schools to bring about further improvements as we cannot be complacent.”

Kath Tunstall, the council’s strategic director for children’s services added: “I am really proud of the achievements of our young people across the district. I would want to offer my congratulations to them all on their success which is a result of real hard work, supported by their schools and families.”

The work of the Bradford Partnership of secondary schools to raise standards was praised last week at the North of England Education Conference by Ofsted’s chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw.