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'Grade change hit our Ofsted report' says headteacher
A HEADTEACHER has said controversial changes to English GCSE grade boundaries contributed to a critical inspectors’ report.
Chris Harris, of Larkmead School, Abingdon, spoke after Ofsted said it “requires improvement” following a February inspection.
While Ofsted praised pupil behaviour, it said grades were not good enough and leadership had to improve.
Ahead of a parents’ meeting called by the school tonight, Mr Harris said English grade boundary changes meant up to 40 pupils got a D instead of C.
He expected 54 per cent to get at least five GCSEs grades A* to C, including English and Maths. But the figure from summer exams was 48 per cent. The school is aiming for 60 per cent this year. It will be re-inspected within 12 to 18 months.
Last year the Government came under fire for changing boundaries for the C grade English GCSE tests between January and July.
This meant there were discrepancies between grades achieved in the two different exam periods.
Mr Harris said: “I think there will be a significant uplift in next summer’s results, and they will improve the next two summers as well.”
Schools are graded outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate.
In 2011, Larkmead was given a satisfactory rating under the former system – where schools were then ranked as either outstanding, good, satisfactory or inadequate.
Mr Harris said: “I think the inspectors will come back in on the back of a good set of results and they will see progress.
“There are really high expectations for students and they are not buckling under that pressure, we are improving and actually it is a really exciting time.”
Mr Harris said he was “disappointed” by the judgment but acknowledged the school expected the rating, though he said it is “very close to good”.
He said: “What they saw was good behaviour, teaching getting better all the time, and progress in some areas was good.”
Inspector Robert Ridout’s report says: “Students are not yet achieving well and standards are not high enough in all subjects. There is too much variation in achievement between subjects and it is especially weak in core science and English.”
Pupils typically start school with attainment below that found nationally but do not progress enough to close the gap by Year 11, it said.
But behaviour was praised along with progress in maths and sciences. The school was told it needed to improve teaching so it is consistently good or better, and improve effectiveness of leaders and managers.
Tonight’s meeting will take place at 7pm.