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West Dorset schools hold their own in GCSE tables
West Dorset schools held up well in the county’s school league tables which show an overall sharp drop in the number of pupils getting five good GCSE grades.
The percentage of pupils getting five A* to C grades including maths and English at Beaminster School actually went up from 54 per cent to 55 per cent and rose in its rankings rated against other Dorset schools on A-level points scored per candidate from 23rd to 17th place.
The percentage of Sir John Colfox School pupils getting the five A* to C grades at GCSE including maths and English fell 11 per cent from 64 to 53 per cent and it now ranks 21st in the Dorset Schools league – the same as last year.
The Woodroffe School in Lyme also fell with 66 per cent getting the benchmark grades compared to 71 per cent last year and it now ranks 13th, down from ninth last year.
Some headteachers have blamed harsher marking on the scores and others say the league tables do not reflect student successes in other areas.
Sir John Colfox headteacher Kay Taylor, pictured below, said the school had some excellent results in 2012. She said: “It had the most A*/A grades it has ever had and the highest percentage of students achieving 5A*-C ever at 93 per cent. “All students left with five passes at GCSE unlike the national picture where six per cent generally do not achieve even this.
“This shows that students in the school achieve across the range of subjects and that the breadth of our curriculum is important as it gives them more choice and leads to excellent results in very many areas. “Unfortunately the league tables with their emphasis on English and maths do not always reflect the excellent achievement of many students in other subjects as well.
“With the controversy over marking in English and other subjects last year many schools, including ours, saw a drop in their results in line with the national picture.
“At least now we know what to expect, rather than having to deal with last minute changes to how work is marked and graded. It is important that the hard work and the achievements of the students across so many subjects, is recognised.
“We are very proud of what many of our students achieved and this was due to their own hard work and the support of dedicated and talented staff.”
Beaminster pupils gaining five A* to C grades including maths and English at Beaminster School stood at 55 per cent.
Headteacher Mike Best said: “Beaminster School continues to do excellent work. “The league tables reflect this but their focus upon achievement rather than progress gives a one-dimensional view. “Our students make better than average progress in almost every area and it is this that is the real indicator of a good school. “We do our best for every individual and we educate the whole child. “Values and education go hand in hand. I’d encourage all parents to visit schools and to look beyond the rather thin veneer that statistics offer.”
Woodroffe headteacher Richard Steward said performance varied each year depending on the students.
He said: “The results in 2012 were affected by the English marking fiasco which hit us badly.
“Our A*-C score for GCSE English is usually above 80 per cent but this year it fell to 70 per cent. Maths GCSE on the other hand rose to 83 per cent. “In the wider scheme of things the school did very well indeed and was one of the highest performing schools in Dorset once again.
“If you look at our percentage 5A*-C including English and Maths (without equivalents) we are still well above national averages with 66 per cent.
“Woodroffe is slightly unusual in that its pupils focus mainly on GCSEs at KS4 whereas some schools employ a raft of 'equivalent' qualifications to boost their overall score."