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Schools on the up as GCSE results rise - with Beccles school celebrating top 10 position in Suffolk for student progress

PUBLISHED: 14:28 13 October 2017

Beccles Free School students leap for joy after recieving their GCSE results. Photo: Simon Lee, Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust.

Beccles Free School students leap for joy after recieving their GCSE results. Photo: Simon Lee, Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust.

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Suffolk has risen more than 50 places in the national secondary school league table in five years on the back of improving GCSE results.

East Point Academy, Lowestoft, was ranked as Suffolk's best school for Progress 8, the new accountability measure. PHOTO: Nick ButcherEast Point Academy, Lowestoft, was ranked as Suffolk's best school for Progress 8, the new accountability measure. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Provisional government statistics released yesterday, show 62.4 per cent of GCSE students in Suffolk achieved at least a grade 4 in English and maths this year, ranking the county 85th out of 151 local authorities.

In 2012, Suffolk was ranked 142nd, prompting outrage and the Raising the Bar scheme.

The difference between the Suffolk and England state school average has fallen from 8.4pc points in 2012 to 1.1pc in 2017.

The 2017 results included the first phase of the 0-9 numerical Progress 8 grading system – just English and maths this year – replacing the A*-G system by 2020. The reforms of former education secretary Michael Gove reflect a tougher, more traditional curriculum.

EDUCATION Exams 125697-b (50691834)EDUCATION Exams 125697-b (50691834)

Beccles Free School is celebrating after finishing joint sixth out of 92 secondary schools in Suffolk.

The school’s overall Progress 8 score is 0.46, which means all students progressed to achieve half a grade higher than was predicted at 11 in every GCSE subject. The school is also eighth in the league table for students who achieved the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) at grade 5 or above in English and maths, and at grade C or above in all other EBacc subjects.

This is the first year where students have spent five full years of secondary education at Beccles Free School since they opened in 2012.

Graham Watson, of the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust which runs the school, said: “We are thrilled to be in the top 10 for student progress amongst schools across the county, especially since this is the first year where we are seeing results from students who joined Beccles and Saxmundham Free Schools in Year 7.”

East Point Academy in Lowestoft was ranked Suffolk’s best school for Progress 8, with 0.69. It was in special measures three years ago.

Principal Richard Dolding praised the “fantastic achievement”.

Suffolk scored -0.01 (average) and Essex scored -0,04 (below average) in Progress 8.

Gordon Jones, education cabinet member at Suffolk County Council, praised the authority’s signature Raising the Bar scheme for delivering the results. But Labour questioned the rate of progress and being in the bottom half of authorities.

Mr Jones said: “Students continue to make above average progress, closing the attainment gap to national. Through our Raising the Bar programme, schools are driving up standards.”

Jack Abbott, Labour Group’s spokesman for education, said: “We want to be in the top 10, 20. Being 85th after five years is questionable. I think this is reasonably slow progress. How much money is being spent? With the new funding formula, I would be hammering down Justine Greening’s (education secretary) door. Quite frankly, we need it.”

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