Blackpool headteachers today hailed the work being done to improve results – but admitted there is still some way to go.
The resort’s secondary schools came under fire last week after Ofsted inspectors said they were in a “dire” situation regarding underachievement.
And league tables released by the Department for Education show that of the resort’s eight secondary schools only two have improved on last year’s ‘gold standard’ GCSE results.
While headteachers agree they must be held “publicly accountable” they have stressed they are working tirelessly to improve education and life chances for the children in their care.
And there is still much to be celebrated, including maths scores continuing to improve.
Every school sent away at least 63 per cent of their Year 11 class of 2013 with five or more GCSEs at A*to C, or equivalents – at St Mary’s Catholic College this number stood at 97 per cent and at Collegiate High School 91 per cent.
Stephen Tierney, executive headteacher at St Mary’s Catholic College, said: “Staff and students are to be commended for producing such a strong set of results.”
More than half, 54 per cent, of pupils at the St Walburga’s Road school achieved five or more GCSEs at A* to C including English and maths – the so called gold standard.
Mr Tierney added: “The English department again produced exceptional results and maths A*to C was more than 60 per cent for the second consecutive year.”
John Topping, acting headteacher at Collegiate High School on Blackpool Old Road, said: “We’re delighted with last year’s results.
“This year at Collegiate we are hoping recent initiatives will yield higher attainment, especially in maths and English.”
For the second year running the resort’s secondary schools improved their maths successes.
More pupils are making the expected progress in maths than ever before, with 52.4 per cent making three levels of progress.
School bosses say this is down to a new maths initiative between schools, Blackpool Council and the National Maths Partnership, which includes making pupils more engaged with maths and calculations, as well as showing how to use maths in daily life.
Now English classes are set to get a similar boost.
Across Blackpool grades for pupils who received five A*to C grades including maths and English fell by 1.8 per cent from its record high last year. That figure now stands at 46.1 per cent.
Ian Evans, headteacher at Highfield Humanaties College, South Shore, said the school has been working since the summer to improve on the results which saw it drop by five percentage points to 48 per cent achieving gold standard GCSEs in 2013.
Mr Evans said: “We understand why we got those results and have been doing work to improve standards.
“We understand we should be publicly accountable but the league tables overall contain very complex data, for us it helps to clarify our strengths and weaknesses.
“We are moving forward. And we had a lot of happy children last year, pleased with the results they got.”
Pupils at Bispham Arts College were very happy too.
The school had record results, up from 35 per cent to 47 per cent, the largest improvement of all Blackpool secondary schools and the school’s best ever.
Deborah Hanlon-Catlow, acting headteacher at the school on Bispham Road, said: “We are immensely proud of all the hard work and sheer determination from the students, staff and parents in bringing together the school’s best ever results.
“The school is most definitely on an upward trend.”
Montgomery High School, Bispham, boasted an impressive number of pupils achieving the top grades, with 121 students securing at least three A* or A grades and more than 25 per cent achieving five A* or A grades.
Overall the school saw 57 per cent achieve at least five A*to C grades, including English and maths, and 85 per cent A*to C.
Simon Brennand, headteacher at the school on All Hallows Road, said: “We are pleased to have maintained and built upon the high standards. This high standard is a vital platform on which to build success and there were many superb results across the whole ability range.”
Palatine Sports College went out with a bang, recording results for its last year as a school, having now converted to become South Shore Academy, on St Annes Road. It saw an eight per cent rise for the gold standard grades, with 43 per cent achieving at least five GCSEs including English and maths at A*to C.
Principal Chris Powell said: “Our students deserve huge credit for gaining some truly excellent results.
“The results were again record results for the school, but more importantly their positive performances will support their life chances.”
Teachers at Unity Academy, formerly Unity College, North Shore, have said they are looking forward to “positive” results from the current Year 11 pupils.
The school converted to academy status from September and welcomed new principal Chris Lickiss who has said it things at the academy are “moving forward”.
The former Unity College posted overall five A*to C GCSE results of 73 per cent, and saw 29 per cent of pupils achieve five A*to C including English and maths. St George’s School, Marton, achieved 63 per cent of pupils taking home five or more GCSEs at A*to C, and 47 per cent at A*to C including English and maths.
The council have promised to help those that are struggling
Council bosses have today pledged to continue work to both challenge and support secondary schools across Blackpool.
Blackpool Council was sent a letter by Ofsted inspectors last week which said it was “ineffective” in supporting struggling secondary schools and that it wasn’t challenging those with poor results.
As results for all schools are published education bosses have renewed their pledge to the town’s children.
Coun Ivan Taylor, cabinet member for education and schools, said: “All of our secondary schools put in a tremendous amount of work and effort to make sure that Blackpool’s pupils receive the best possible education.
“As a council we are continually challenging them to improve the quality of education that they provide.
“For example, our results in maths needed to improve, so we have both challenged and supported schools to introduce the new maths partnership.
“An impact of that can be felt in these figures, but a lot of the work has been with the lower years of secondary schools, which we would hope to see the benefits of over the next few years.
“We will not rest on our laurels.
“There is still more work that needs to be done and we are committed to doing everything possible to ensure that every child in Blackpool receives the level of education necessary to achieve their potential in life.”