20/01/2008

Are the Thurrock exam results good?

Posted in Education at 9:37 pm by henrysgauntlet

You’ve got to be pretty optimistic, (viewing the cup as half full rather than half empty), to regard the latest GCSE results published for Thurrock as being satisfactory.  

Some schools have made an amazing advance, and congratulations to them, but others are still languishing in the low teens as far as five A* to C grades are concerned.   There are amazing differences in one local authority area between 58% and 12%.

In particular, it is necessary to look closely at the new Gateway Academy’s 12%.    Remember that Gateway is made up of pupils who in the past would have gone to St Chad’s in Tilbury and Torells in Little Thurrock/Chadwell St Mary.   Torells managed to get its five A* to C GCSEs up to 26%, but its pupils’ results are now submerged in the Gateway’s figures.

When Torells was forcibly closed in August 2003 against the wishes of the pupils and parents, it was said that the new all-singing, all-dancing school would be open in two years, which I make September 2005.   They hadn’t even started building by then, and the new school still isn’t finished more than two years after that.   So, already nearly four-and-a-half years have gone by.   That fact must have had an effect on the pupils’ achievements.   Little eleven-year-olds from Chadwell having to go down to St Chad’s premises every day, and then, at fourteen, all the pupils from Chadwell and Tilbury back to the old Torells premises for the final two years.   A split campus always causes problems.

The Council’s Leader has said:-

“We have an unrelenting drive to push up standards so our children can reach their true potential.   I would like to thank all school heads and their teaching staff for their efforts and hard work.”

Well, of course, that’s right.   Teachers have a really rough job these days.   Battling against a tide of bureaucratic targets and form-filling, having to try to please OFSTED, and get some education into children despite, quite often, disruption and ill discipline in the classroom.  

Parents are entitled to expect the best for their children, but they have a responsibility, too, to make it clear to them that they go to school to learn, and to insist on good behaviour, hard work, and no bad language.   A calm classroom certainly helps teaching and learning.

Not everyone can shine academically;  they just weren’t born that way.   But they may well be tremendously talented at other things.   If there is a budding Christopher Wren, Michaelangelo or Nicky Clarke stuck in a class where they have no interest in general academic subjects, wouldn’t it be better for them to be in apprenticeships at 14 or studying vocational subjects at college?   They’ll probably end up earning far more and having much more satisfying lives than some young person with a lower second degree who will end up manning the ‘phone in a call centre. 

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1 Comment »

  1. L.E.Redding said,

    I am sure you are right. The decision of Thurrock Borough Council to close Torells was clearly mistaken. Unfortunately, the present Cabinet member for Children does not recognise how low current levels of attainment amongst Thurrock’s children are. His party’s leader is equally reluctant to acknowledge that his regime has, like previous Labour ones, been a failure. By next May, the likelihood is that both men will be on the opposition benches and that the prospects for Thurrock’s children will be no better, alas.


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