Number of English schools failing on GCSE targets doubles in a year

The Guardian, 29/01/15, the headline measure of school performance in England has plunged dramatically in the wake of changes to exam rules and league tables, according to official figures for school GCSE results published by the Department for Education. HMC Chairman Richard Harman, headmaster of Uppingham School is quoted.

The impact of the changes, along with a slight fall in GCSE grades awarded last summer, saw a doubling in the number of schools that failed to reach the government’s floor target of 40% of pupils attaining five GCSE grades between A* and C, including passes in English and maths.

The DfE figures published on Thursday show that 330 secondary schools in England were below the floor target, compared with just 154 last year and 195 in 2012.

Nationally, schools saw 53% of their pupils pass the government’s measure, a steep fall from 59% last year. The fall was less-marked in state schools alone, dropping four percentage points to 57%.

Independent school heads were unhappy with changes that saw some IGCSEs excluded. “This obviously absurd situation creates further confusion for parents as they cannot compare schools’ performance accurately and transparently,” said Richard Harman, chair of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference of public schools, and head of Uppingham.

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