Wisbech confirmed by league tables as having 16th worst school in the country

PUBLISHED: 11:47 31 January 2012 | UPDATED: 09:52 01 February 2012

Thomas Clarkson Community College in Wisbech

Thomas Clarkson Community College in Wisbech


SOON-TO-BE academy Thomas Clarkson Community College is the 16th worst school in the country for achieving the government’s gold standard at GCSE, according to the latest league tables.

Just 24 per cent of pupils at the Wisbech secondary school achieved the standard, of five A*-C grades, including English and Maths, last year. This figure dropped from 27 per cent in 2010, and is less than half the English state school average, which is 58 per cent.

Thomas Clarkson, which is set to become an academy in April, was also the sixth worst state school for value added between Key Stage 2 and GCSE.

Neale-Wade Community College, in March, helped 42 per cent of pupils achieve the gold standard, but this was down from 52 per cent in 2010, while 54 per cent of pupils reached the standard at Sir Harry Smith Community College, in Whittlesey, down from 67 per cent in 2010.

Neale-Wade saw 70 per cent of pupils gain three or more A-levels, while 82 per cent achieved the feat at Sir Harry Smith.

Thomas Clarkson principal Maureen Strudwick said it was right that schools should be accountable but added that league tables could be harmful if they were not fully understood.

She said: “What also needs to be taken into consideration is the context of the school, particularly the prior attainment of its students.

“For example, last year 56 per cent of our new intake was below the national average for literacy when they joined TCCC. They have since made very good progress.

“Students need to have good quality teaching throughout their time in compulsory schooling in order to fulfil their potential in Year 11 and we have been working hard to ensure that this happens.

“The ‘green shoots’ are there and have been recognised by Ofsted.”

Former Olympian Jason Wing, who became Principal of Neale-Wade in September, admitted he was surprised by the results.

He said: “Last year’s results, which I inherited, weren’t the best and we will look to improve that. I was quite surprised but I’ve got a good group of staff who are working really hard.

“To go back to sporting terms, I would always pitch myself against the best and then work to their level. That’s what these league tables do, they are a reality and I can’t see them going away.

“What I’m interested in is doing the best for every single student in the school and if we do that then we will do well in the tables.”

Cromwell Community College, in Chatteris, was one the biggest improvers, with 63 per cent of pupils achieving five A*-C grades, including English and Maths - a significant rise from 47 per cent in 2010. An impressive 80 per cent of pupils also achieved three or more A-levels.

There was also improvement at Wisbech Grammar School, with 97 per cent of pupils achieving the gold standard – up from 93 per cent in 2010.

The league tables have again been criticised by unions, with many claiming that they overlook the successes of the summer.

Colin Collis, from the NASUWT union, said: “The figures will mask huge success for teachers and pupils and it’s about time we got away from these stupid league tables. League tables are a waste of time. They are a crude stick to beat schools and teachers with.”

Cambridgeshire saw its overall position in the national standings fall for both GCSE and A-level results. Out of 151 local authority areas, the county moved from 38th to 64th place for GCSEs and 25th to 31st place for A-levels.

But Cllr David Harty, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Learning, said: “Students put in a huge amount of work to achieve their results this summer.

“Congratulations to them all - and thanks to their teachers and families for their dedication and support in helping them achieve their goals.”

Marshland High School, in Wisbech, had 44 per cent of pupils achieve the gold standard, compared with 48 per cent in 2010, while Peele Community College, in Long Sutton, had 54 per cent, down from 58 per cent in 2010.

There was also a slight drop in achievement at St Clement’s High School, in Terrington St Clement, which had 43 per cent of pupils reaching the standard in comparison with 45 per cent in 2010.

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