Bristol GCSE results 2012 buck national trend
BRISTOL'S secondary schools have bucked the national trend by posting improved GCSE results for the fifth year in a row.
The number of students achieving at least five good GCSEs including English and maths rose from 50 per cent to 52 per cent – drawing the city closer to the national average of 58 per cent.
The city's consistently improving performance means it is also closing the gap on its higher-flying neighbours, with Bristol now lying just five percentage points behind South Gloucestershire and seven adrift of North Somerset, based on the key performance measure.
While the city registered slightly improved results overall, several formerly struggling schools made huge gains with their grades.
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Oasis Academy Brightstowe, in Shirehampton, posted some of the most improved results in the country, more than doubling the proportion of its students gaining five good GCSEs including English and maths.
Bristol Brunel Academy in Speedwell, Oasis Academy John Williams in Hengrove, Henbury School, City Academy in Lawrence Hill and Merchants' Academy in Withywood also recorded vastly improved results.
Merchants' Academy principal Anne Burrell said: "These are truly outstanding results, thrashing all targets and predictions. I am so delighted that the dedication and hard work of students, staff and parents has brought the deserved reward."
Henbury School head teacher Clare Bradford said: "Students have worked really hard to achieve the results they've got. We are particularly pleased that 30 per cent of our students have got A* to B grades in English and maths."
Despite the rapidly improving picture at some schools, others in the city remained below the Government's floor target of 40 per cent of students achieving at least five A*-C grades including English and maths.
Bristol Metropolitan Academy found itself at the bottom of the Bristol league table based on the performance measure, sinking to 31 per cent from 43 per cent last year. But head teacher Steve Taylor blamed the slump on problems with the marking of pupils' English papers.
Nationally, many English teachers have claimed that this summer's papers were marked too harshly.
Mr Taylor said his school's GCSE results in English were 30 per cent down on last year and 27 per cent below the level predicted, with a number of pupils who had been expected to achieve Cs receiving Ds.
He said many had been left "stunned" by their results and the school would take their cases up with the exam board to try and raise their grades on appeal.
"We have a track record in predicting English grades extremely accurately, and the teaching in this English department was described as good and outstanding by Ofsted very recently," said Mr Taylor.
Despite its low score in the English and maths measure, Bristol Met saw 97 per cent of its students earn five or more good GCSEs in total – the second best result in the city this year.
Other schools below the Government's floor target were Orchard School in Horfield, which saw its results go up from 36 per cent to 37 per cent this year, and Brislington Enterprise College, which recorded a drop from 38 per cent to 37 per cent.
The top-performing state schools were Colston's Girls' School, Redland Green School and Bristol Cathedral Choir School, where 38 per cent of GCSEs were A* or A grades.
BCCS principal Neil Blundell said: "A* and A grades have increased significantly since the school became an academy in September 2008, as we have focused intently on teaching and learning, and on the detailed support that students need to achieve the very highest grades."
City council deputy leader Jon Rogers said: "These latest figures show steps to drive up results at the city's schools are having a long-term impact on outcomes for young people, as they continue to do better at GCSE level year-on-year."
Annie Hudson, the city council's strategic director for children and young people, said: "Our focus continues to be on doing everything we can to continue to raise standards at schools in Bristol."
Independent schools in the city also excelled. At Clifton High School, three 12-year-old pupils – Thomas Harvey, Helena Grinling and Gabriel Gonzales – earned A* grades after sitting GCSEs three years ahead of most children in the country.
Nationally, the proportion of GCSEs awarded at least a C grade fell for the first time in the exam's 24-year history, with 69.4 per cent of all GCSE exams given at least a C grade – down 0.4 per cent on last summer.
There was also a fall in the proportion of A* and A grades.