League tables: pupils on the up

STUDENTS at Sidmouth College are celebrating an upturn in their league table position as new national figures are released.

STUDENTS at Sidmouth College are celebrating an upturn in their league table position as new national figures are released.The number of pupils achieving five A* to C grades at GCSE rose from 52 per cent in 2006, to 60 per cent in 2007 and the college's A Level results brings it in at 31st in Devon. The King's School in Ottery St Mary continued to add value to its pupils' education last year, according to the tables.New figures have placed the school in the top 20 for GCSE and A-Level results in Devon.A Level results at the school put it seventeenth in Devon tables and GCSE figures show 77 per cent of pupils gained five at grade A* to C in 2007, an improvement from 74 per cent in 2006.But headteahcers have urged caution when reading the tables. Sidmouth College principal David Birch said: "It all depends how you read them. We were pleased we improved our results from the year before. My view is league tables don't always tell the full story."Faith Jarrett, head of The King's School in Ottery, said it was important for people not to focus too much on the league tables as they did not give the whole picture of life at the school. She said: "Parents should only take them as a small aspect, going to the school, walking around and getting a feel whether it is the right place for your child is more important."It is not just about exam success."Unauthorised absences at Sidmouth College were at just 0.5 per cent, a figure of which Mr Birch was very proud.At King's they were 0.4 per cent, one of the lowest levels in the county. Mr Birch said: "We've worked hard on attendance and we follow up absences vigorously.""The number of students who have got serious attendance problems is low and that is good, but we don't have the social issues that often lead to absences that other areas have."Mr Birch continued: "We are looking forward to some really good results this year. Where we need to improve is with the level of progress of the children. It will be a focus for us this year."At the Kings' School, while the numbers gaining five GCSEs at grades A* to C when mathematics and English were included dropped very slightly, headteacher Faith Jarrett said overall she was pleased but with room for improvementMs Jarrett said: "As these two subjects have such currency for the pupils in later life, improving this figure is one of our targets."Staff from the English and Maths department are working hard with pupils."There are no quick fixes and, as different children need different approaches, this is not the only strategy for boosting performance."On the low truancy rate, Ms Jarrett said: "This helps our performance and we like to think this is because pupils come to school because they want to. "It helps we are a small community as it is much easier for people to get caught playing truant."The new contextual value added score, which measures how well pupils at the school are doing in comparison to pupils with similar prior attainment at other schools, shows King's remains excellent.Ms Jarrett said: "We do very well, especially as our children come from an area that is not deprived and to be still adding value is very important.

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