NEW figures released by the Department of Education show the performance of secondary schools should be treated with ‘considerable scepticism’. That’s the view of the Headteacher at The Skinners’ School in Tunbridge Wells, following the publication of
league table data last week.

Mr Wesson told the Times: “They are never a reliable judge of school performance and this year they are an even weaker indicator, as they are not including what is best for the pupils involved”.

The Headteacher defended The Skinners’ School, a top performing grammar in Kent, whose academic standing was apparently misrepresented in the league tables.

“In Skinners’ case, it appears that 27 boys failed Maths GCSE, when in reality they all achieved the top grade [9] in the previous academic year and have completed an advanced qualification in year 11– neither counting towards the league tables.”

The 2017 league tables failed to recognise advanced GCSE qualifications as new grading measures were also overlooked.

The lack of confidence in this year’s figures is shared by Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders [ASCL] who believes they inaccurately reflect student achievement at Key Stage 4 (GCSE level).

“The secondary school performance tables cannot be compared with previous years because the government has once again moved the goalposts.

“It is particularly frustrating that the bar for achievement in English and Maths has been
raised arbitrarily to a grade 5 under the new system.”

League table data recorded an increase in under-performing schools across the UK, with many failing to reach the raised standards set for achievement at Key Stage 4.

Kent’s county averages fell below national standards, although Tonbridge Grammar School, Bennett Memorial Dioc-esan and Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar School are in the top category for achievement.

Commenting on the recently published school league tables, Roger Gough, KCC’s cabinet member for children, young people and education, said: “All secondary schools in Tunbridge Wells town were well above Kent and national averages in terms of the core Progress 8 performance areas. This includes some of the strongest individual school outcomes in the county.”

Rosemary Joyce, Head Teacher of Tonbridge Grammar School (TGS), which topped this year’s schools league table for Kent told the Times: “We are proud of the performance of our students reflected in the GCSE performance measures that validate Tonbridge grammar School as the top performing secondary school in Kent.”

She added: “Our Attainment 8 figure of 77.9 shows our students achieve the highest grades across the county. Academic success is reflected not just in overall attainment but also in recognizing the progress of students from their start points.

“TGS tops the charts on progress from Primary School (KS2) to GCSE with a Progress 8 figure of 0.89 reflecting the positive learning environment and quality of support for learning in the school.”

St Gregory’s Catholic School in Tunbridge Wells also retained its academic reputation.
Headteacher Sean McQuillan said: “Last year’s GCSE examinations in English and
Mathematics were particularly challenging with the first of the newly reformed GCSEs and we are proud of how our students and teaching staff prepared them and succeeded in securing good grades.”