Henbury School named as one of most improved in Britain
HENBURY School has been named in the top 10 per cent of the most improved secondary schools in Britain.
The school was one of the worst performing in Bristol in 2004.
It has been singled out for the huge rise in the number of its students earning 5 A*-C grades including maths and English over the last four years.
Those achieving the grades almost doubled, shooting up from 25 per cent in 2008 to 46 per cent last year.
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The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT) described the school's improvement as "stunning".
Clare Bradford, the school's head teacher, expects the figure to jump by another seven per cent when the latest set of GCSE results are released next month.
She puts the improvement in academic achievement at the school, which became an academy in June, down to increasing the aspirations of students.
When she arrived at the school in 2004, just 13 per cent of pupils managed 5 A*-C grades including maths and English. This rose to 25 per cent in 2008 then 27 per cent in 2009 before a dramatic leap to 39 per cent in 2010.
Ms Bradford said: "It's about working closely with the students and families to increase their aspirations and motivation, as well as focused hard work from staff and students. It's about children realising they have the chance to do as well here as anyone can anywhere else."
She said the school, a specialist arts college, had been the most improved in Bristol over a long period of time.
Henbury School became an academy on June 1, under an informal collaboration with top performing school St Bede's Catholic College in Lawrence Weston.
Explaining the decision to convert to an academy, which will give the school more freedom over its budget because funding will be received directly from the government, Ms Bradford said: "In Bristol, there are fewer and fewer schools which are not academies and less and less resources at local authority level.
"We thought we would be better off managing resources at a school level for the benefit of the children."
The school was given an award by the SSAT, the representative body for schools, for its improving GCSE performance. Every school in the country was ranked according to how much progress they had made in the last four years.
Sue Williamson, chief executive of SSAT, said: "Henbury School should be congratulated for their stunning achievement in improving their GCSE results.
"Henbury School has proved itself to be one of the best schools in the country at improving GCSE outcomes for their students. There are plenty of other schools that could learn from Henbury School's success.
"These results are testament to the commitment and hard work of students, teachers and the leadership team at the school and vindication of their belief in high expectations, good teaching and ambition for every young person.
"Successful schools like Henbury School understand the value of data, such as these progress measures, in helping ensure all young people perform to the very best of their ability.
"The progress measures show how schools make a difference and raise achievement above expectations."
Priory Community School in Weston-super-Mare was also recognised by the SSAT in its national league tables, for pupils exceeding expectations. The school was among the top 10 per cent nationally for 'adding value' to individual students' achievements at GCSE.
The value added score was worked out by comparing students' final grades with what marks they were expected to achieve when they were aged 11.