Concerns for Northumberland schools in league tables

Northumberland Gazette latest
Northumberland Gazette latest

There were some positive outcomes, but also plenty to concern parents and education chiefs, as the GCSE and A-Level performance tables for last year were published this morning.


At the Duchess’s Community High School in Alnwick, there was a drop of six percentage points in the number of pupils achieving five GCSEs at A* to C, including maths and English, from 62 per cent in 2013 to 56 per cent in 2014. However, this still matches the national average, which also fell this year, and is comfortably above the county average.

The Alnwick school fared particularly well in English with 81 per cent of students making the expected progress between the end of Key Stage Two (Year 6) and the end of Key Stage Four (Year 11), while the figure in maths was 63 per cent.

At James Calvert Spence College, in Amble, the five-GCSEs percentage recovered some of the significant drop in 2013 by climbing back up from 37 per cent to 45 per cent. An above-average 66 per cent made the expected progress in maths alongside 58 per cent in English.

Further afield, Berwick Academy saw its five-GCSEs percentage drop from 60 per cent to 43 per cent, while a slight drop at King Edward VI (KEVI) in Morpeth still saw it achieve a very high 71 per cent. KEVI was above average for progress in English and maths, while Berwick Academy was above in maths but below in English.

The national average for students achieving five GCSEs at A* to C, including maths and English, was 56.6 per cent for state-funded schools or 53.4 per cent overall. In Northumberland, the figure was 52.6 per cent, which was also below the North East average of 54.6 per cent.

Nationally, the number of pupils making the expected progress in maths was 65.5. per cent and in English 71.6 per cent. In Northumberland, the percentage of pupils making the expected progress in both English and maths was 66 per cent, again below the national average (71 per cent) and the North East average (69.5 per cent).

However, it is worth noting that the league tables this year use a new methodology for the first time, one that has been criticised heavily, particularly by private schools.

One change is that only certain qualifications are counted (for example, not the International GCSEs – IGCSEs – favoured by many private schools) and no qualification is worth more than one GCSE. The other change means only a student’s first attempt at a qualification is counted.


At the Duchess’s Community High School, 99 per cent of students gained at least one A-Level at A* to E, 93 per cent at least two and 67 per cent at least three.

At James Calvert Spence College, the figures were 97 per cent, 87 per cent and 44 per cent respectively, while the national average was 99.6 per cent, 92.4 per cent and 79.5 per cent.

Berwick Academy managed 100 per cent, 81 per cent and 56 per cent, while KEVI was again at the top of the pile with 100 per cent, 99 per cent and 90 per cent respectively.

Nationally, the average points score for an A-Level student was 772.7 in state-funded schools, which was above the score at the Alnwick (764.2) and Amble (625.7), but below Berwick (792.0) and KEVI (843.3).

For more on the results and the school league tables, see next Thursday’s Northumberland Gazette.


Head reacts to GCSE and A-Level league tables

Mixed results in school performance tables – 2013 results

KS2 school league tables released – December 2014