NEARLY A quarter of secondary schools in one district of Yorkshire have failed to meet the Government’s new standard for measuring pupils’ progress.
Figures released by the Department for Education revealed the schools were falling below a new “floor target” that measures the progress and achievement of students across eight GCSE subjects.
Of the 17 secondaries in the Doncaster district, four failed to meet the criteria.
In nearby Barnsley, the figure was only slightly lower, with 22 per cent of schools – two in nine – failing to meet the standard.
Schools that are considered under-performing face intervention, and could be taken over.
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LEAGUE TABLES IN FULL
The government has published performance tables for every primary school. Click the links to view tables for each local authority, from the Department for Education
Five secondary schools in the Leeds district, and three in Bradford, were also rated as under-performing.
However, all schools in Wakefield, Rotherham and the East Riding met the target.
The data reveals huge differences in children’s access to a good secondary school, an issue that is likely to fuel fresh debate about under-performance in some parts of the region.
Headteachers warned that the results had been achieved “against a national backdrop of a funding and recruitment crisis”.
For the first time this year, schools have not been judged on the proportion of pupils scoring five or more C grades at GCSE, including in English and maths. Instead, Ministers have introduced a new headline measure called “Progress-8”, which looks at the progress a pupil makes from the end of primary school to the end of secondary school.
Two of the under-performing secondaries in the Doncaster area, Mexborough Academy and Balby Carr Community Academy, are sponsored by the same organisation, Wakefield City Academies Trust, which runs a further 19 academies in the region.
Both schools had a Progress-8 score rated “well below the national average”, with only three per cent of pupils at Balby Carr achieving the English Baccalaureate of grade C or better in English, maths, sciences, a language and history or geography.
The school’s new interim headteacher, Tom Ashley, said there were “deep-rooted issues” behind the figures, and added: “We accept changes need to be made to improve Balby Carr’s standing in the performance league tables.”
Mr Ashley said he believed “things will be different in a year’s time”.
Richard Wood, headteacher at Mexborough Academy since 2015, said improvements were being seen “across the board” and would “impact favourably on future league tables”.
He said: “The curriculum I inherited meant a proportion of our students did not study the correct combination of subjects, which adversely affected the Progress-8 score.
“It’s been redesigned and now ensures our students can achieve their full potential across the range of subjects.
“Behaviour and academic performance are improving and our parents can see the positive impact the changes have made.”
A spokesperson for Wakefield City Academies Trust said: “Rapid changes are being made at our two Doncaster secondary academies that will impact positively on their future performance.
“Mexborough and Balby Carr have long-standing issues that take time to turn around. We are working with Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council to effect change and ensure our students have access to the best possible education.”
The council said the figures represented a “huge improvement” on the previous year, with Doncaster the fifth most improved district in the country.
Coun Nuala Fennelly, the council’s cabinet member for schools, said: “The figures are actually very positive for Doncaster. We have seen some great improvements in the attainment levels of young people across the borough. We do have some way to go to get further up the league tables, but it is good to see encouraging early results from the many different initiatives we have introduced.”
The Government does not publish a list of schools falling below the floor standard, but analysis suggests that 107 of those that failed to meet the threshold are sponsored academies, 34 are schools that converted into academies, 51 are council run and seven are mainstream free schools.