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Drapers' principal Matthew Slater

GCSE league tables: Tears for some, but Drapers’ Academy, Harold Hill, is UK’s 18th fastest improver

Thursday, January 24, 2013
4.00 PM

Drapers’ Academy saw the borough’s biggest increase in good GCSE grades last year, and was among the country’s 20 fastest improving schools, figures released today show.

Sixty-three per cent of GCSE students at the Harold Hill school, which opened in 2010, gained five or more GCSEs – including English and maths – at grades A* to C.

The figure compares with 36 per cent in 2011 – that’s a three-quarters increase, or an extra 27 per cent of year 11 achieving the top grades.

Just 17 of the UK’s 6,592 schools reported an upward trend on the same scale, making Drapers’ the country’s 18th fastest improving school.

Principal Matthew Slater said he was “delighted” with the news.

“There’s no easy route to school improvement – it’s about hard work, commitment and a focus on study,” he said.

“We’re delighted for the pupils that their hard work and dedication has paid off with such superb results.”

But it’s less good news elsewhere, with half Havering’s 24 mainstream secondaries seeing a drop in results.

Some, like St Edward’s C of E in Romford, believe they were hit by the controversial government-led change in English grade boundaries between January and June.

The shift, which prompted national uproar, saw exams taken in the summer attracting significantly lower grades than those taken just months earlier.

Head Alan Perry slammed the Department for Education for “moving the goalposts” and said the situation had hit St Edward’s particularly badly because of its decision to enter no students in the January exams.

Overall, St Edward’s reported a 19 per cent drop in the English-and-maths-inclusive five A*-to-C figure – the borough’s biggest decrease.

“We got 59 per cent A* to C grades in English, but 75 per cent in maths,” he told the Recorder. “Normally those results are comparable.”

He added a change in information from exam boards about grading coursework had also affected the figure – but said the school was “optimistic” about next year’s results.

Overall, Havering’s A* to C rate has dropped 2.4 per cent to its lowest since 2009 – 61.5 per cent compared with 63.9 in 2011.

That still places it 2.1 per cent above the national average, but the gap – which was 10 per cent in 2009 – is closing steadily.

One reason for that could be the controversial change in English exam marking between January and June that saw pupils all over the country missing out on expected grades.

Council leader Cllr Michael White said: “Our students and teachers worked extremely hard to achieve the best GCSE results possible. In many subjects, there was an improvement on previous years. We remain above the national average, with none of our schools or academies below the government’s minimum standard.

“Our English A* to C pass rate did fall but this was part of national marking issue which has yet to be fully resolved. We will continue to support all our schools and academies to achieve the best results possible.”