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Thursday, 25 August 2011

Schools Failing To Produce Good GCSE Result Should Close

Those two imposters triumph and disaster will be making their presence felt in 750,000 homes today as the GCSE results come through.

Lucy Gallagher opens her GCSE exam results in Nottingham.

Amidst the cheers and the tears for the individuals emerge the statistics for the pundits to grab hold of. The news that 23.2 per cent of papers were gradedA* or A – which is 0.6 per cent more than last year - will be met with scepticism. Few will be convinced that it means standards are higher.

Most will believe that it is more likely that the exams have become easier. There will be the familiar concerns about 'grade inflation' and 'dumbing down'.

But the grade inflation is being choked off as the Education Secretary Michael Gove demand s greater rigour. In fact grades are expected to come down in future years as credibility is restored to the system. Gove is also concerned to reverse the decline in history teaching - a subject that only 30 per cent of pupils sat for GCSE.

A greater challenge is that the 'gender gap' has widened. The boys are falling further behind the girls. 26.5 per cent - were awarded an A or A* this summer - compared with 19.8 per cent of boys exams.

This is something schools will want to address. Are boys more distracted by a collapse in classroom discipline than girls? Are there enough real experiments with things that go bang in science lessons? Should we recruit more male teachers?

Does the falling standard of school discipline disproportionately impact on the academic attainment of boys? Would fostering more sports competitions between schools engender greater school pride and particularly encourage boys to be more engaged?

Are boys disadvantaged by the switch to nice, neat feminine coursework rather than testosterone charged exams? Are young boys, in particular, put off reading by their teachers using bland, sanitised PC story books?

But I hope the greatest attention of all from the GCSE stats will go on the schools producing the worst results. They undergo regime change should be closed down entirely and new schools opened on their sites.

Four pupils react after opening their GCSE exam results at West Bridgeford School, Nottingham today.

Their are huge numbers of groups around the country seeking to open Free Schools. But hostile Labour councils are seeking to thwart their efforts to expand parental choice. Even some Tory councils are unhappy about the prospects of the Council-run schools being exposed to competition. So the planning system is used to make it hard for them to convert a site for a school building. Yet if a failing school is closed down then a ready made site for a new school becomes available.

For years Leftists in the educational establishment have refused to acknowledge that such a thing as a bad school exists. If parents don't want to send their child to a particular school they are accused of prejudice or ignorance. If a school gets bad exam results then excuses are repeatedly made and the answer put forward that more money should be sprayed at it. Never that the head should be held to account.

That is not the approach favoured by Michael Gove. He has decided that heads and governing bodies of schools where fewer than 35 per cent of pupils achieve reach C grade in five GCSEs, including English and maths, should be taken over by new management and become academies.

He plans to raise the threshold to 40 per cent next year and by 2015 to 50 per cent. Some have criticised this approach for saying that the schools will focus on cramming those heading for a D to get a C - and thus neglect the brighter pupils. If these critics are sincere they should back an additional challenge for these schools - that a minimum of, say, 15% of pupils should get A* or A. The reality is that the bad schools are overwhelming failing pupils of all abilities.

The indulgence of Leftists for sink schools which parents struggle to avoid is a scandal. For all their talk of equality nothing does more to keep the poor poor.

The GCSE results are judgement day for the pupils. Those who are disappointed should not despair. Some who fail at school go on to succeed in later life.

But on the other hand poor school results do reduce their chances of success. The odds are stacked against them. They have consequences. Poor results should also have consequences for their schools.

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