League tables: Do they tell the full story?

Northamptonshire pupils have closed the gap on GCSE attainment
Northamptonshire pupils have closed the gap on GCSE attainment
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Statistics about education have never been easier to obtain – as a quick Google search to find the national education tables released just a few days ago should prove.

On paper, the news is mixed for Northamptonshire.

The county still remains below the national average for attainment at GCSE level – with 58.1 per cent of pupils achieving five GCSEs at A* to C, compared to the national average of 60.8 per cent.

However, this means the county is slowly closing the gap on attainment – it was much wider in 2010.

While the county is showing some improvement, head teachers have urged caution on using cold, hard statistics to make simple judgments about how our schools are getting on.

Find out how your school did here.

Kettering’s Bishop Stopford School was one of the best performing schools in the whole county in terms of the number of pupils achieving five GCSEs at A* to C.

About 84 per cent of pupils attained that number – placing the school fifth on the county league table.

However, Margaret Holman, Bishop Stopford head teacher, said that it was still important to think about each individual’s attainment.

She said: “Performance measures are now much more detailed, meaning parents are able to look at a variety of aspects of a school’s performance.

“With so much data available, navigating through can sometimes be challenging, but it is important at all times not to miss the achievements of individual students.”

Sir Christopher Hatton Academy, in Wellingborough, saw 61 per cent of its pupils achieving five GCSEs at A* to C, placing the school in 20th place in the county.

Victoria Bishop, academy executive principal, said: “The rules surrounding school performance table data change regularly but our students’ final GCSE results will be on their CVs for life.

“Regardless of the rules about which examinations are to be included and which are to be excluded from the school performance tables, this academy continues to focus on our students’ best interests.

“We want to do everything possible to support them to leave school with nothing but the best possible outcomes and life chances.”

Alison Hayes, associate principal at Lodge Park Academy, echoed the sentiments of other head teachers.

Lodge Park saw 49 per cent of its pupils achieving five GCSEs at A* to C, placing it at 37th in the county list.

Mrs Hayes said: “Over the past two years we have seen consistent progress.

“Our commitment to delivering outstanding teaching in the classroom, underpinned by unrivalled enrichment opportunities, has seen our position in the tables rise.

“While this is pleasing, looking at education just in terms of data doesn’t always allow us to celebrate other successes.

“As an academy we take the greatest pleasure in hearing where our students’ achievements have enabled them to go.

“We have seen greater numbers going to the top universities, more students competing at the highest levels on the sports field and we hear of more fantastic stories with regard to job opportunities.”

The best performing schools in the county were all independent.

Oundle School and Wellingborough School topped the list.