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Friday 20th
posted by Morning Star in Britain

by Felicity Collier

NEARLY one in 10 secondary schools are underperforming, with those in north-west England doing worst, Department for Education data revealed yesterday. But teachers warned that the government stats were not to be trusted.

A total of nearly 300 secondaries failed to meet new government targets, one in six of them in the north-west. Knowsley North West had a 100 per cent rate of underperformance.

Darlington North East was named the second worst, with 42.9 per cent of its schools underperforming, and Oldham North West followed with 38.5 per cent.

Instead of schools being assessed on the number of pupils scoring at least five C grades at GCSE, including English and maths, a new measure called Progress 8 has been introduced by the Department for Education.

This takes into account pupils’ performance throughout secondary school, along with their GCSE results.

Schools that underperform face intervention and could be taken over. National Union of Teachers (NUT) general secretary Kevin Courtney warned that it would be a “mistake” to believe that the Progress 8 is “a trustworthy measure of progress.”

He condemned KS2 tests as narrowly based and “notoriously unreliable.” Knowsley was found to have Britain’s highest proportion of highly deprived neighbourhoods, according to figures published in 2015.

In response to the league table findings, a Knowsley Council spokesman said: “The commission is focusing its work on the six secondary schools in Knowsley to provide support and challenge to drive up standards and attainment levels.”

Mr Courtney highlighted research carried out by King’s College London and published by the NUT, which showed that “the vast majority of teachers question the validity” of Progress 8.

In the research, one teacher said: “As a teacher of English, the pressure that has been added is incredible.

“Further expectations for data collection and reporting on target-setting have come into place with no additional time provided.”

The NUT said yesterday that it congratulated schools on withstanding the effects of cuts and teacher shortages to achieve a rise in student attainment at GCSE.

Other statistics published yesterday showed that results achieved by teenagers taking the government’s flagship English Baccalaureate have not improved for the last four years, with only 23.1 per cent scoring at least a C grade in English, maths, science, history or geography and a language in 2016.