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The results are in but what this year's GCSEs say about education in Croydon is far from clear


WITH results day over, students across the borough will soon know – if they do not already – whether they have been accepted into the college or job they were hoping for.

But what their GCSE results say about the state of education in Croydon as a whole is less clear, because a number of schools have yet to share their results.

Several have not released their "headline" score – the number of pupils who achieved at least five A* to C grades including English and maths – while others have not published any figures at all.

Some have not even provided the data to the council - with the rise of the academies, an increasing number do not have to.

The Advertiser asked the authority's press office for results of those that did, only to be told the "unvalidated" information had been given to them on the proviso it would not be made public without the school's "express consent".

"Those who are happy to share with the press at this stage will have done so," a spokesman added.

Their reluctance is perhaps understandable, given the serious consequences that can arise when results fall.

But it means that we do not know for certain how some of the borough's biggest schools – such as St Andrew's and St Mary's high schools – performed.

As a result, it is unclear whether Croydon's overall results have increased for the 11th year in a row, bettering last year's score of 64.4 per cent of pupils achieving at least five 'good' GCSEs, the Government benchmark.

We cannot tell how Croydon is doing compared to the rest of the country, where the headline figure was 68.8 per cent, up 0.7 per cent on last summer, but English results fell sharply.

Roughly three quarters of the town's secondary schools did provide their scores and, among the state schools on that list, an average of 67 per cent of pupils hit the mark.

As well as the examples of individual success highlighted on these pages, there were also encouraging signs at several schools.

There were improvements at Harris Academy Upper Norwood (+14 per cent) which had the lowest results in the borough before it was converted into an academy last year and its name changed from Westwood Girls' College for Language and Arts.

Archbishop Lanfranc – which will reopen as an academy in September – gave its head teacher David Clark a fitting send-off with an eight per cent improvement. There were positives at Riddlesdown, Oasis Academy Shirley Park, among others.

But at Addington High, in New Addington, little over a third (38 per cent) left school this summer with five good GCSEs, 11 per cent lower than in 2013 and below the government's minimum requirement. 

Community schools that fall below the 40 per cent target are converted into academies, but that change has already been forced on Addington High when, in June 2013, it was taken over Bromley's Ravens Wood School after years of underachievement. 

Martin Giles, who begins work as the school's new head teacher on Monday, told the Advertiser that "no stone would be left unturned" in his efforts to revive its fortunes. 

There were surprise results at Coloma Convent Girls School - one of the borough's most respected and top-performing secondaries - which fell by five per cent and its sponsored school, Quest Academy, also posting worse year on year results.

Two Harris Academies – Crystal Palace and South Norwood – were also surprise inclusions on the list of schools whose exam results fell this year.

In all, eight of the 15 state schools to have provided their results did worse this year than in 2013. Performance in the private sector was high.

Exam boards had warned of "volatility" in results due to changes to the exam system which discouraged schools from allowing their pupils to take their exams a year early and reduced the emphasis on coursework.

Without the full data – which will be published by the Department for Education in early 2015 – it is difficult to tell how these changes affected schools in Croydon, if at all.

Woodcote High, in Coulsdon, said it had "weathered" the storm despite posting overall results five per cent lower than last summer.

Head teacher Mark Southworth said vulnerable pupils had suffered as a result of the exam reforms, adding: "While our results represent a real achievement for the vast majority of students, the changes in entry policy instigated by the Government have meant that a number of our most vulnerable students have suffered from not being able to take their exams in smaller units and thus build up their confidence over the whole GCSE course."

Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, families and learners on Croydon Council, said changes to assessments were a factor in the "big variations" in results at some schools.

"This makes a direct comparison with last year difficult and it is better to compare this year's figure with other similar local authority areas," she said.

"Some schools have marking issues to deal with, and the overall picture is still to be seen. But However, the early indication is Croydon has done pretty well in comparison to other London boroughs, although we will have to wait a little while to get a clearer idea of everyone's averages."

Cllr Flemming said the council would be analysing the data in detail once it had all the results in.

"We will be paying particular attention in cases where there has been a large fall in performance and, if necessary, looking for ways those schools might seek to reverse this trend," she added.

GCSE results 2014* - % or pupils achieving at least five A* to C grades including English and maths (difference since 2013)

Croydon High School - 100 - N/A

Old Palace of John Whitgift - 100 (+4%)

Trinity School - 100 - (Same)

Royal Russell School - 92 (+18%)

Coloma Convent Girls' School - 90 (-5%)

Harris Academy Purley - 79 (+3%)

Harris City Academy Crystal Palace - 77 (-6%)

Woodcote High - 77 (-5%)

Riddlesdown Collegiate - 74 (+7%)

Archbishop Tenison's CE High - 72 (+4%)

Oasis Academy Shirley Park - 69 (+5%)

Norbury Manor Business and Enterprise College - 67 (+2%)

Thomas More Catholic School - 66 (-14%)

Harris Academy South Norwood - 64 (-12%)

Virgo Fidelis Convent Senior School - 62.5 (-10.5%)

Quest Academy - 56 (-6%)

Harris Academy Upper Norwood - 55 (+14%)

Edenham High School - 50 (-8%)

Archbishop Lanfranc School - 47 (+8%)

Addington High – 38 (-11%) 

*Those schools not on the list have not provided the headline figure

The results are in but what this year's GCSEs say about education in Croydon is far from clear

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