This year's GCSE results in Bristol "disappointing"
BRISTOL schools' GCSE results were "disappointing" this year, despite an improvement being recorded for the fifth year in a row.
That's the verdict of senior education officer Nick Batchelar, who believes the city could have posted an even better set of results.
Provisional results published last month showed the number of pupils 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. But Mr Batchelar, the city council's service director for learning, achievement and schools, believes the city could have achieved 54 per cent.
He believes the provisional results should be treated with caution this year in light of the controversy surrounding the marking of English papers.
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The officer told a meeting of the council's children's services scrutiny commission at the Council House that a number of schools posted surprising falls in their results.
He said of the results: "They were disappointing, actually. There were unexpected falls in schools which normally deliver good results.
"I would like to see us at 54 per cent or maybe more than that.
"I know there was a fall in English grades – they went down this year for the first time in ages and ages."
Mr Batchelar said there was no single type of school which had excelled or suffered a drop in results.
He said: "We can't say it was the old-style academies or the converted academies – it was a mixed picture. It's difficult to draw meaningful conclusions because of the way schools were marked."
Mr Batchelar said there had been "stunning" improvements in results recorded at schools including Oasis Academy Brightstowe in Shirehampton and Henbury School but other top-performing schools, including St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School, and Cotham School, had seen their results fall.
In the case of St Mary Redcliffe, he said the school's sixth form had posted improved A-level results this year in line with previous years yet recorded an "inexplicable" drop in its GCSE results.
Despite his disappointment over the results, which will be published in their finalised form in the winter, Mr Batchelar said educational standards were broadly on the up in the city. He said: "The quality of secondary schooling has vastly improved in the city but there's a lot more to be done."
Mr Batchelar told the meeting a number of head teachers in Bristol had expressed their views about the marking of this year's GCSE English papers.
They have expressed anger at pupils being awarded D grades instead of Cs as a result of last-minute grade boundary changes.
They claim exam boards raised boundaries halfway through the year amid fears that too many children were going to get a C.
Heads believe pupils on the borderline of C and D grades were worst hit and those who took exams in January stood a better chance of getting an all-important C than those who entered in June.
It is thought almost 70,000 UK teenagers had grades marked down. Exams regulator Ofqual has refused to order exam boards to regrade this year's papers.