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Prince Henry's headteacher puts ratings drop down to ‘turbulence’
Otley’s secondary school is blaming “turbulence” in the marking of English papers for a ten per cent dip in GCSE results.
Prince Henry’s Grammar School had many success stories in this year’s exams, achieving what looks set to be the highest success rate across Leeds for the English Baccalaureate.
It also saw 58 per cent of students achieve at least five A* or A GCSE grades.
But the school’s attainment at the key, five A* to C including English and Maths, performance measure was down to 63 per cent, compared to 73 per cent in 2012.
That drop, which went against a Leeds-wide trend that saw overall attainment against the same criteria rise slightly, to 57.4 per cent, has led to calls for an explanation.
Headteacher Janet Sheriff, however, is confident the results were a blip.
She said: “Our English results were disappointing this year and it is this that has affected the specific performance measure of five A* to C grades, including English and Maths. The turbulence in exam marking and qualifications in English is the root cause.
“I have been in communication with the Leeds authority and they have confirmed that this turbulence has affected a number of very good schools across the city.
“I am also aware that there are anomalous English outcomes for many schools across the nation, too.
“It is really pleasing that, despite the hike in challenge of many GCSE subjects, we have managed to secure impressive outcomes in the overwhelming majority of all the other subject areas in school, and have therefore continued our improvement trajectory.
“This explains why, in terms of the English Baccalaureate, we have performed so well, with 51 per cent of students achieving it – likely to be the highest across the city.”
Town council leader Coun John Eveleigh (Lab, Ashfield), however, said he was concerned about such a “dramatic reduction”.
He said: “First and foremost I want to congratulate all of the school’s students who have successfully negotiated their GCSEs. This is undoubtedly a major achievement, and I hope it stands them in good stead.
“However, for the Prince Henry’s GCSE results to show such a significant apparent deterioration compared to that of last year – down ten per cent, when the Leeds schools in general had bucked the national trend and seen a two per cent-plus improvement – needs some explanation.
“These results are disappointing, and the fact they reflect the first full year of Prince Henry’s being an academy will raise questions, particularly as one of the reasons given to the community at conversion was that this was the only way to continue to raise academic standards.
“The school pressed on with the academy against the wishes of the local community, and it is quite right the community are now asking if the school’s management’s eye has been taken off the ball in establishing the academy.”
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