Outraged parents demand answers over 'appalling' GCSE results at Sidmouth College

PUBLISHED: 12:30 18 January 2019 | UPDATED: 15:17 18 January 2019

Sidmouth College Principal Sarah Parsons. Ref shs 39 18TI 1973. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth College Principal Sarah Parsons. Ref shs 39 18TI 1973. Picture: Terry Ife

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Parents have hit out following the revelations about the decline in GCSE results at Sidmouth College - but the school's head said she is confident things are moving in the right direction.

Last week, the Herald ran a story after the new headteacher gave a presentation on the work being done to turn around the school, which in November 2016 retained its ‘good’ Ofsted rating.

A number of parents have contacted the Herald. One parent slammed the school for ‘badly letting down its pupils’, saying if they had of known the situation they would have paid for their child to have a tutor.

In the summer 2018 exams, only 27.5 per cent of children gained grades 5 to 9 in English and maths – making the school one of the worst in the county.

Schools in Honiton and Ottery St Mary got over 55 per cent.

In a letter, one parent said: “We deserve an explanation as to why the results were so low compared to other schools.

“Our children were given very little support on results day, only a handful of teachers were there. Many of the pupils went home in tears at their lower than predicted grades. Many pupils have had to either change course at Exeter College or have had to start courses at a much lower entry level. Some were not able to start their apprenticeships. Those that are having to retake costly exams, must be struggling to study them along side their A levels, new courses and apprenticeships.

“The school then used the Herald to print pictures of the so-called exam success, leaving pupils who have failed wondering if they were the only ones. This has affected their self esteem hugely.

“I think Sidmouth College should be explaining to pupils and parents what went wrong.”

Another parent, who slammed the ‘appalling results’, added: “Many children missed their predicted grades in a wide range of subjects and had to change their plans for post-16 education at the last minute, which was very stressful. I am hoping the parents of the children who were let down by the school can get some answers.”

Headteacher Sarah Parsons said: “I’ve been extremely clear since I took up my appointment in September that the college’s historic results have not been good enough and I have outlined what we are doing to ensure significant improvements.

“For example, I have appointed a senior member of staff to focus solely on Year 11 achievement.

“Across the college, we are working closely with our high attaining students as well as raising expectations and aspirations with all students and making sure we have the best possible behaviour for learning at all times.

“I am confident these and the other measures we are taking will produce significant improvements in this year’s and all future exam results and that has already been reflected in our GCSE mock exams.

“I have received very positive feedback from the local community on the work that we are doing.

“Indeed, there’s been a big increase in families selecting us as their first choice school this year, which is very heartening.

“We have had to organise additional open mornings for Year 6 primary children and their parents because of the increased interest in the college. The students and staff at the college are fantastic and there is so much potential. It is my job to ensure that the college reaches its potential.

“I know what it takes to make a good school great and that is I what I intend to do at Sidmouth College.”

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