‘I think of St Luke’s in Portsmouth. In 1999, not a single pupil got 5 good GCSEs. Today it’s the Charter Academy – and 79 per cent of pupils have got those grades.’
David Cameron, Kingsmead School
, December 2014
The end of the last century seems rather a long way to go back in order to make a comparison. But was it true that no single pupil at St Luke’s got 5 good GCSEs in 1999? The benchmark that year didn’t include Maths and English – school performance tables recorded proportions achieving 5 GCSEs A*-C (any subject). The national average at the time was 47.9%
. Results at St Luke’s came nowhere near that with just 8% reaching the 1999 benchmark
. Low, very low – yes, but it’s not 0%.
But St Luke’s didn’t close until 2009, ten years later. Its last set of exam results
showed 22% achieved 5 GCSEs A*-C including Maths and English. After a rather choppy ride, the predecessor school had raised results from the alleged 0% to 22%. It would be fairer, then, to have 22% as the base mark not 0%.
There’s no doubt results at Charter Academy have risen spectacularly
from 22%. The proportion reaching the benchmark was 24% in 2010 rising to 68% (32% when equivalent exams are removed
) in 2013 to 83% (65% on GCSEs only measure
) in 2014. It’s unclear, then, why it should be necessary to cite results from a date ten years before the predecessor school closed in order to demonstrate how far the Academy has come.
Earlier in the speech, Cameron said:
‘…we have Academies which had no pupils getting five good GCSEs now seeing eight in ten reach that mark.’
Cameron didn’t specify whether the ‘five good GCSEs’ included Maths and English; neither did he give a timescale. But as the academies programme didn’t really take off until the Coalition came to power in 2010 it would be safe, I thought, to assume he was referring to 2009.
I asked the Department for Education for the names of schools, now academies, where no pupils reached the benchmark of 5 GCSEs A*-C including Maths and English in 2009, and where now, as academies, 80% of the pupils had reached that benchmark. The answer was none.