Education Secretary ‘wrong in claiming pupils being failed’

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AN education chief has said his authority’s rise up national league tables shows that Education Secretary Michael Gove was wrong to claim that its school system was failing pupils.

North Yorkshire has retained its place as the strongest performing area in the region at GCSE with 65 per cent of pupils achieving five A* to C GCSE grades including English and maths.

Nationally it moved up from 26th place for 2011’s results to 13th overall out of 150 education authority areas.

Last year Mr Gove singled out North Yorkshire schools for criticism over the performance of its primary schools.

The Education Secretary warned there were too many under-performing primary schools in North Yorkshire and blamed the Conservative-run county council for failing to help turn them into academies.

The criticism came in a letter sent to MPs in North Yorkshire claiming that decisive action was needed and urging them to persuade the council and schools to pursue academy conversions.

However North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for schools Councillor Arthur Barker said: “We said at the time that it was a gross distortion of the facts to claim the system in North Yorkshire is failing its pupils. I think these league tables reinforce that.

“We are now ranked in the top ten per cent of authorities nationally at GCSE and we are by far the largest of the best performing authorities.

“It is also important to remember that many of our schools have the challenge of being small.

“This is not because they are unpopular as might be the case with smaller schools in more densely populated urban areas but because of where they are.

“There needs to be schools in these areas and so we have a higher number of small schools.

The number of young people who achieved a C or above in maths increased significantly, by nearly six per cent to more than 76 per cent.

Several of North Yorkshire local authority maintained schools improved their GCSE 5 A*-C results including English and maths significantly.

At St Augustine’s in Scarborough by 15 per cent; Richmond School by 13 per cent and Selby High School, Brayton High School and Risedale Sports and Community College by 10 per cent.

Coun Barker said: “This is a really stunning set of results. The figures show today that the county’s schools prepare our young people very well for their next steps into training or further and higher education. This means they are able to access the full range of choices, including access to the top universities.”