Big improvements for borough’s schools

News Shopper: Hurstmere School pupils are jumping for joy after the institution was named among the 50 most improved in the country over the past three years	BE5197 Buy this photo » Hurstmere School pupils are jumping for joy after the institution was named among the 50 most improved in the country over the past three years BE5197

GCSE results in Bexley showed the borough's largest ever increase in achieving the five top A* to C grades.

With more pupils than ever taking GCSE and A level exams in the borough, the percentage of top grades went up up from 57.4 per cent in 2005 to 64.1 per cent, making Bexley the fifth most improved local education authorlty in the country.

The rise in results means that over the last three years, GCSE grades in Bexley have improved by 10 per cent, nearly double the average national improvement.

Just over half of Bexleys pupils sitting the exams last summer achieved the new government standard of five top grade GCSEs including English and maths, compared with 45 per cent nationally.

Among local authorities, Bexley came 25th out of 148 England education authorities when it came to achieving the new GCSE targets.

This compares with Bromley which came 12th, Kent which was ranked 50th, Lewisham which was 91st and Greenwich 139th.

Many non-selective schools achieved their best ever results.

At St Mary and St Joseph's Catholic School in Sidcup - soon to close to make way for the expansion of St Luke's Ctaholic 6ths form college - results were up 22 per cent.

At St Catherine's Catholic Girls school in Bexleyheath they increased by 13 per cent; at Bexleyheath School and Trinity CofE School, Belvedere, by 12 per cent; Blackfen Girls' School by 11 per cent, St Columba's Ctholioc Boys's School, Bexleyheath by 10 per cent and Welling school by eight per cent.

The results at A level also showed improvement with 69.3 per cent of pupils gaining the top A to C grades and passes A to E up to 98.1 per cent.

Mixed results in league tables

The new requirements for GCSE students in last year's exams have produced a different borough picture in this year's secondary school league tables.

Bexley Grammar School in Danson Lane, Welling, was the only school in the borough where every pupil taking the exams achieved the Government's target of at least five A* to C grades including maths and English.

Its results were among the top 60 in the country.

Townley Grammar School in Bexleyheath achieved 99 per cent while at Beths and Chislehurst and Sidcup grammar schools, 97 per cent of exam candidates achieved the new "gold standard."

Consistently high achieving St Catherine's Catholic Girls' School in Bexleyheath, was the highest placed non-selective school with 70 per cent of its pupils getting the desired grades.

At the Bexley Business Academy in Thamesmead, 27 per cent of pupils received at least five top grades including English and maths - above Erith School with 21 per cent and Westwood College, Welling, with 17 per cent, and just behind Cleeve Park School, Sidcup which achieved 30 per cent.

Hurstmere Foundation School for Boys in Hurst Road, Sidcup, was in the top 50 most improved schools over the past three years.

This year 42 per cent of boys got the top grades in the required exams.

Andy Stringer, head teacher at Hurstmere, told News Shopper: "I am immensely proud of the staff and the boys and grateful for the support of parents."

He added: "Becoming a specialist sports college four years ago made a big difference. It has brought additional money and resources to the school and sport is a big motivator, especially for boys. But there are many different aspects to bringing about changes and it is difficult to identify just one."

The task is all the more diffiicult at a boys only schools as on average, boys achieve 10 per lower marks than girls.

Mr Stringer says the specialist college status and subsequent exam improvements have had a knock-on effect on the school.

He explained: "When I came to the school seven years ago there were 120 applications for 180 places; last year there were 800 for 200 places.

"The school is now vastly over-subscribed and very popular."

And St Mary and St Joseph's Catholic School in Sidcup was judged to be in the top 50 schools in the country for adding value to their pupils' education.

The national average for pupils gaining all the required results was 45.8 per cent and in Bexley it was 50.3 per cent, although only six of Bexley's 14 secondary schools achieved the national average.

At A level, Townley Grammar came top with an average points score per student of 944.7 followed by Beths Grammar with 937.4.

Bexley and Chislehurst and Sidcup grammar schools followed with 871.7 and 800.6.

Students at the the top performing schools in the country achieved more than 1,000 points.

Blackfen School for Girls was the top achieving non-selective school with 632.2 points per student.

At the controversial St Luke's sixth form college, which takes pupils from the borough's three Catholic schools, students scored only 449.5 points.

But it was saved from bottom place in the borough by Bexley Business Academy whose A level courses are just taking off and whose students only managed an average 98.1 points.

The England average per student was 721.5 points and in Bexley it was 700.5.

Primary school performances

ALSO just published by the Department for Education and Skills were the attainment results for primary school children in English, maths and science.

Top scoring schools in the borough were Days Lane and Birkbeck primaries in Sidcup and Old Bexley CofE in Bexley Village.

Several schools in the north of the borough, which have higher than average numbers of children with special educational needs, struggled to keep up and achieved among the lowest scores in the borough.

But St John Fisher Primary School in Kale Road, Thamesmead, was in the top 25 most improved primary schools in England over the last three years.

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