GCSEs: Burnley schools below national level


All of Burnley’s super schools are performing below national and regional levels, according to the latest GCSE league tables.

Hameldon Community College and Shuttleworth College suffered a significant drop in pupils achieving grade A* to C in five or more GCSEs, including English and maths.

Hameldon and Shuttleworth’s results of 32% and 33%, respectively, represented a wide gap in pupil attainment compared to a national average of 60.8% and a regional average of 61.8%.

Unity College’s results also dipped with the school achieving 51% compared to 2012’s 55% although Blessed Trinity (57%) and Sir John Thursby (48%) saw a rise in the previous year’s performance.

East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce chairman Michael Damms has warned that something needs to be done to turn these results around.

“The GCSE attainment in maths and English at all Burnley schools is below the national and county average,” he said. “Everyone should be more determined. Local authorities, local employees, teachers and parents.

“Businesses are worried they are not going to be getting pupils with good enough results.”

Shuttleworth headteacher Bob Wakefield said “disappointing” English results had hindered their performance but results across all other subjects had been positive. He also said immediate measures had been taken to combat the slide in English.

“Since the summer exam our current Year 11 have taken the English GCSE in November: 49% of the cohort achieved a higher grade with 50% making expected progress, significantly up on last summer’s performance and evidence of the impact our actions have had.

“Although I was really disappointed by our English results, I was pleased that 83% of our students achieved five or more higher GCSE grades again this year, again above the national average, and up from just 35% three years ago, a measure of how far we have progressed.”

Hameldon headteacher Gill Broom said: “There seemed to be a discrepancy in the English marks, especially in the foundation paper which we have taken into account. Now we are making sure we have plans in place to make sure students make the expected progress and internal monitoring suggests we are on course.”

Blessed Trinity headteacher Richard Varey was pleased with the results and said the school was well on course to be an “outstanding” school within the next three years.

“They’re in line with national expectations and are a stepped increase,” he said.

“However, we do see this as a stepping stone to becoming an outstanding school. Current tracking suggests current Year 11 pupils will get the best results in the school’s history.”

Although they were 13% below the national average, Sir John Thursby’s results were up 10% compared to last year’s figures, an increase headteacher Mr David Burton expects to see happen again this year.

“We are delighted Sir John Thursby Community College’s 2013 GCSE results were our best ever, a 10% rise and we added the most value to our students’ education as our Best 8 value added is the only one above national average in the area.

“The fact that 45% of our students achieved A*/A and 10 students achieved eight or more A*/A shows the high calibre of our students,” he said.

Sir John Thursby also had the highest percentage of Key Stage 4 pupils achieving the English Baccalaureate across the town with 26% closely followed by Blessed Trinity with 20%.

Mr Burton added: “26% of our students achieved the English Bacc with excellent results in a range of subjects such as Computing 78%, Further Maths 75%, Maths 69%, Biology 95%, Chemistry 97%, Physics 98%, Geography 83%, German 88%, Sociology 73%, Art 93% and Drama 77%. Our teachers predict even higher results for our current students.”

Unity College headteacher Sally Cryer was not available for comment.

Matthew Tomlinson, Lancashire County Council’s Cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: “Last summer’s disappointing results were largely due to lower grades in English exams following further changes to the exam system and an increase in the marks required for a grade C, which particularly affected C/D borderline students.

“However, I am reassured by figures that show the brightest students in Burnley schools do as well in their exams as anywhere else in the county.”