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Shropshire secondary school league tables: Results ‘not be-all-and-end-all’

By Dominic Robertson | Shrewsbury | Education | Published:

League tables assessing the performance of Shropshire's secondary schools have been published, but one principal has reminded people that they are not the be-all-and-end-all for judging the success of schools or students.

Principal Michael Barratt with head girl Lottie Etterley and head boy Max Rutter at the Priory School in Shrewsbury

The government tables list the top schools for performance at GCSE and A Level.

Shropshire Council said the highest average attainment scores had been recorded by Priory in Shrewsbury, Church Stretton, Corbet in Baschurch, Community College in Bishop’s Castle, The Lacon Childe School in Cleobury Mortimer, Idsall in Shifnal and Oldbury Wells in Bridgnorth.

The seven schools that had the highest progress average score per pupil were Sir John Talbot’s in Whitchurch, Corbet, Community College in Bishop’s Castle, Priory, Oldbury Wells, Church Stretton and Lacon Childe.

In Telford & Wrekin, Thomas Telford School has again performed well in both sections, and although Principal Sir Kevin Satchwell welcomed the efforts of staff and pupils, he said it was important to judge schools on more than league tables.

He said: "Obviously we are very pleased with the way things are progressing at the school and year on year we are able to deliver the standards that are shown in the league tables and I am sure that our efforts are no different to all those of all the other schools.

"I think it is useful to have this sort of information available but it is not the be-all-and-end-all, it is only a glimpse of what happens in the school and it is very difficult to compare the performances of different types of schools in Telford with this rich tapestry of different types of schools and they are all tackling, in different ways, the challenges they are presented with.

"You can see a large gap in performance between schools and you have to look at that with some degree of caution, because to compare a grammar school with one that is not is folly.

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"I think the important thing is if you speak to any parent and ask if they are satisfied about where their child goes they do not rush to look at a league table, they are able to give you an instinctive response. Provided parents know the school is doing the best for their child then what comes out in the league tables is insignificant."

He added: "Teachers work their cotton socks off for these kids across all the schools. I think every teacher in Telford & Wrekin should have a pat on the back for the effort they put in."

Councillor Ed Potter, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, also praised the efforts of teachers and students.

He said: "These results demonstrate the determination and effort of our students during their studies and we congratulate them on their achievements.

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“It is also important to recognise the support that our school communities in Shropshire have given to the students. This includes our highly professional and dedicated teachers and headteachers, school governors, support staff, volunteers and, of course, parents and carers, whose support is so vital to students’ success.”

Always room for improvement, says head

The Priory School in Shrewsbury once again performed well as the government released its secondary school league tables.

Principal Michael Barratt has welcomed the results, but stressed there is always room to improve, and that school performance is about much more than league tables.

The school’s own head boy and girl have also spoken of what they feel is behind its success, both crediting the relationship between students and staff.

Head girl, Lottie Etterley, 15, said: “I think it is very successful because all the students work together and there is a very strong student/staff relationship so everyone feels confident to work to the best of their ability, and I think that brings the best out in everyone so they can work hard.”

Head boy, Max Rutter, 16, added: “Everyone is really motivated and I think the relationship with teachers grows with them and helps them improve on their work as an individual.”

Mr Barratt, said: “I am pleased with the results but not delighted because you can always be better. There are always areas where we can improve further.”

A useful guide, but dig a little deeper before you make a judgement

The school league tables can, as always, be interpreted in many ways.

Much emphasis has been placed on progress scores for schools, which show how pupils have shown improvement from entering a school in Year 7 to taking their GCSEs in Year 11. Many argue that it is a better gauge than pure attainment, which tends to be weighted towards schools in more affluent areas or those that are fee paying or selective.

The secondary school league tables are not a catch-all. Many private schools use the international GCSE exam and are therefore not included in the statistics. They include Wolverhampton Grammar School, where 89 per cent achieved A* to C grades.

But the figures do give a useful snapshot of just how well a school is doing academically and are handy for parents of prospective students considering their options for secondary school. T

The Gov.uk website includes a whole host of figures, including more detailed attainment and progress by subject and performance in baccalaureate subjects. As well as exam performance, the government summarises Ofsted ratings, providing parents with a fuller understanding of a school.

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