Agenda item

Schools Performance


The report was presented by the Officer for Interim Strategic Leader School Improvement, Learning and Skills (ISLSILS), Roger Edwardson, which showed comparisons of expected standards of learning shown in charts and tables for the stages of Early Years Foundation, Year 1 Phonics, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4. These compared the results of Thurrock to the national average in which key stage 1’s results for Thurrock was above the national average. Reading, Writing and Maths combined for the expected standards of key stage 2 showed Thurrock was in line with the national average but the graph under the Two Year trends section on page 35 of the agenda showed the Reading to Greater Depth Standard (GDS) data had a lower outcome than the national average.


The report was unable to show a comparison of Thurrock to the national average for GCSEs as the national data had not yet been released. The Officer for ISLSILS planned to bring this data back to the Committee once it was released. On another note, out of the 23 children in care entered into GCSEs, eight had passed. The Officer for ISLSILS stated that raising achievement in all areas of education remained a key priority.


Councillor Redsell noted the key stage 1 graph for GDS on page 33 of the agenda revealed low outcomes for Thurrock. The Officer for ISLSILS agreed the outcomes were low and that Maths had been a challenge. Councillor Redsell went on to query the reading outcome and whether this was down to children not reading enough or on the computer too much. Reading was assessed through tests and the quality was not good. The test was probably done on computers.


Councillor Redsell also questioned if reading was better in boys or girls. The Officer for ISLSILS replied that girls did better in reading. Councillor Redsell went on to comment that it was not always down to schools to teach. It was also down to parents to teach their children by reading to them as it would help with spelling and grammar.


Councillor Sheridan mentioned that as the GCSE grading was now numbered as opposed to its previous alphabetised grading, it was probably more difficult to grade for teachers. She anticipated that next year’s performance should be better as teachers should be more confident. She would be interested to hear back the progress on the 11 – 16 year olds. She went on to agree with Councillor Redsell’s comments and thought boys tended to have a lack of concentration at first and later on, had better concentration. Regarding reading, she said children would tend to read more as they got older as they would be able to choose their own books to read. The Officer for ISLSILS agreed and felt that the change to end of year assessments only, had probably benefitted girls more than boys.


Referring to page 37 of the agenda, Councillor Collins noted that there had been some good pass rates for A Level results. He asked what percentage of the pass rate had been for Maths and Science. The Officer for ISLSILS did not have the percentage specific to Maths and Science to hand but he had figures for Science, Technology, English and Maths (STEM) which were high. He would send the figures specific figures of pass rates for Maths, English and Science to the Chair.


The PGR questioned whether the low figures in the GDS could be due to teachers being under pressure to get children to a ‘secure’ position and not concentrating on children who were ‘secure plus’ when working at a greater depth. The term greater depth was an Ofsted term which referred to children working to a higher level. The answer was not simple as this varied from school to school. Quarry Hill Primary School was one of the schools that had achieved almost 100% with nearly 70% achieving the expected level. Opportunities should be extended to all students but when there was a class of 30, the focus was generally in the middle of the class with little focus on the underachievers and the more able were not challenged enough.


The CER commented that they needed to be careful in attributing fault to tests as these were national tests. They should be looking at neighbouring boroughs to check who was doing better through sitting the same tests. The Officer for ISLSILS said that they had not yet received the figures for the Eastern region but would be getting them through soon. He was not blaming the tests but could see a shift in focus.


The YCR referred to the GCSE results chart on page 36 of the agenda and noted it showed a rise in pass rates for Thurrock over the compared years. This meant more young people could get into A Levels. He asked if the Council could do more to encourage young people to take A Levels. The Officer for ISLSILS replied that although most schools were now academies, there needed to be more focus on 16+ year olds in order to get them further.


Referring to appendix one of the report, Councillor Redsell questioned why there was data missing for Woodside and Treetops on some of the tables. The Officer for ISLSILS would send this data through once it was received from the schools.


The Chair questioned how the Progress 8 system mentioned on page 37 of the agenda in regards to GCSEs, was value added measure and how it could be ensured that performance was being monitored. The Officer for ISLSILS explained that the system had eight subjects and the department had a baseline for entry into year seven. Based on that baseline, they judged the performance against the GCSE performance to see if children had made progress or not. It was a better system than the attainment system as there was a different starting point for each individual child. Depending on where the child was in their baseline, they were able to demonstrate if they had progressed or not. It was quantified against zero, minus or plus figures.


The YCR sought clarification on how the Progress 8 system measured progress for students who were already at the highest grades upon entry. The Officer explained that if a pupil had the highest grades at GCSEs, then the progress would be positive.


With some data yet to be received, the Members felt that recommendation 1.1 should be amended.




1)    That the Committee note the provisional outcomes of the summer 2017 tests and examinations.


2)    That the Committee recognises that data can’t be compared to previous years due to a change in curriculum and assessment methods.


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