York High head criticises GCSE exam system

York HighCall for inquiry into English Language marks

In a comment to local media York High School in Acomb head teacher David Ellis said  had mixed emotions when he looked at the 2015 GCSE results this morning.

He was delighted for pupils Edward Bagnall and Owen Gibson who achieved five and four A* grades respectively but was very disappointed with some other aspects of the results.

Mr Ellis said: “As always our young people supported by the staff at York High have worked incredibly hard, and young people, often with significant barriers to overcome have made huge progress and we are very proud of them.”

He added: “Whilst we are delighted with the outcomes for some of our students it is clear that many of our young people around the crucial grade C border have been punished by the changes to the exam system that are currently taking place.”

Mr Ellis was particularly concerned about English. He said: “It is clear that something has gone seriously wrong with the system when the grades in English Language have fallen significantly whilst at the same time English Literature results have improved dramatically. The same pupils with the same teachers have radically different outcomes in these two similar subjects. This will have significant implications for the young people concerned and for our school”

Mr Ellis explained that York High will be seeking to have the English Language papers remarked as the grades allocated to students were well below those expected even though in other subjects students had achieved in line with expectations. “It is clear to us that something has gone wrong with the examination system either as a result of poor marking and or major changes in the grade boundaries.

“The next few days will be very anxious ones for pupils, their parents and for staff at our school. This cannot be right and it is an issue that is being identified by schools across the country and we will be working with them to ensure we get a fair deal for our students”

York High school also suffered a decline in exam success last year

Millthorpe Academy school plan – other schools may be affected

It looks like another 3 schools in York may opt for “Academy” status. Millthorpe secondary school and two of its feeder primaries, Scarcroft and Knavesmire in South Bank, want to “join forces”.

They are currently consulting on their plans on whether to apply for Multi-Academy Trust status.

The decision has potentially big implications for a wide area with many pupils from Dringhouses Primary school feeding into Millthorpe. There are also issues for the Poppleton Road area as well as Bishopthorpe and Copmanthorpe. Local primary schools there are not apparently being invited to participate in the “closer working arrangements”  offered to the Scarcroft and Knavesmire schools.

Nearby secondary schools such as York High could also feel some effect if Millthorpe seeks to “cherry pick” gifted pupils from outside its traditional catchment area.

Millthorpe school catchment area clikc to enlarge

Millthorpe school catchment area clikc to enlarge

The three schools involved would be able to operate free of interference (or support) from the York Council. What practical effect this might have is open to debate. The Council, these days, has little involvement with the day to day running of schools. Staff and governors are firmly in control of most decisions. Revenue funding comes direct to the school from central government while capital, for improvements, is also ring fenced.

York GCSE results

Exam cartoonProvisional results show that 64 per cent of young people in York achieved five or more A*-C grades including English and Maths GCSE on first entry.

Results this year are not comparable to previous years because of changes made in the performance tables which report the first entry rather than best entry results for candidates.

There have also been significant changes to the examination system in 2014, with the removal of some GCSE equivalent courses from the performance tables, reductions in coursework and the move away from modular examinations towards end of course examinations.

There was some disappointment at York High where a spokesman commented,

“In spite of the hard work of the students, the support of the families and the commitment of staff our results have dropped to 43 per cent of students gaining 5A* – C including English and Maths.

This is of course disappointing but is an inevitable consequence of an assessment based mainly on longer exams at the end of a two year course.”

York High and Westfield amongst schools likely to be hit by strike action on Tuesday

Teachers’ unions the NUT and the NASUWT are planning a one-day strike for their members on Tuesday 1 October 2013.

Information about the school closures is detailed below and will be updated regularly. However, if you have any queries, please contact your school directly.

Contact details for schools can be found here.

Click here for up to date list.

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