SHEFFIELD’S secondary schools are on the up – thanks to GCSE pass rates which shot up by more than six percentage points in 2012.
The rise – the biggest for years – compared with a national improvement of just 0.6 percentage points.
It means more than 55 per cent of the city’s 16-year-olds managed five good A*-C passes, including English and maths
The results put the city 114th out of 150 local education authorities, moving up 23 places on the 2011 rankings.
And it puts Sheffield within touching distance of one of its most cherished ambitions of matching the national average pass rate, which now stands at 58.8 per cent.
Driving the city’s progress were double figure increases by a number of schools, including All Saints, Birley, Ecclesfield, Firth Park, Parkwood Academy and Westfield.
Also making good progress is Handsworth Grange, up by 18 per cent over the last two years.
But the biggest improvement of all came at Hinde House School in Shiregreen, where results have improved by 20 percentage points, from 34 per cent to 54.
Chris French, headteacher, said the success was the result of an unrelenting emphasis on teaching quality and a leadership focused on boosting standards and performance.
He said: “Our students are increasingly ambitious and desperately want to do well.
“Their expectations are rising and staff, leaders and pupils are all aiming high. We are starting to break through a number of glass ceilings and we are determined to sustain the pace.”
Another school celebrating was one of Sheffield’s first academies, Sheffield Park, which statistics show to be one of the most improved secondaries in the country over the past three years.
But its pass rate of 50 per cent was not matched by its sister academy, Sheffield Springs – it failed to make progress and is stuck on 31 per cent.
Janet Woods, director of development at United Learning, the academies’ sponsor, said: “We are very pleased with the progress made by Sheffield Park Academy which is testamant to the hard work and commitment of the students and staff.
“And we are confident that the new leadership team in place at Sheffield Springs Academy will replicate this improvement very soon.”
Springs was one of just three schools in the city failing to meet the Government’s new minimum standard of a 40 per cent pass rate, the so-called ‘floor target’.
The other two were Yewlands at Parson Cross, and Chaucer, which is now part of a partnership with high-performing Tapton School.
Springs and Chaucer now languish in the bottom 200 secondaries nationwide.
Independent schools Sheffield High and Birkdale took the top places in the city rankings, while King Ecgbert at Dore is now the top state school with an 80 per cent pass rate.
Sheffield’s newest school, Forge Valley at Stannington, recorded its first pass rate of 45 per cent – which some parents may judge as disappointing, considering it was created by the merger of Wisewood and Myers Grove which in their final years produced better performances.
In the post-16 sector, Sheffield ranks 118th in the country, with more students are achieving the highest AB grades pushing the authority higher.
Coun Jackie Drayton, Sheffield Council cabinet member for children, young people and families said: “These are excellent results and show Sheffield is moving in the right direction.
“It’s a tribute to all the hard work by pupils, their parents and carers, and staff in our schools.
“I am passionate that every child and young person in Sheffield should have the opportunity to reach their full potential and we have to remember the process for achieving good GCSE and A-Level results begins much earlier on.
“These results follow record improvements in our primary school SATs results last summer, so it is encouraging we are seeing this level of improvement at every stage of school life.”
Nationally 195 English schools – teaching 167,000 children – are falling below the 40 per cent floor target.
It means the number of secondaries deemed to be failing has almost doubled in a year, something which is likely to further accelerate the already rapid transformation of schools into academies.
The 2012 figures show the proportion of students reaching the five good GCSEs mark rose by 3.1 percentage points in sponsored academies, as against the national rise of 0.6 percentage points.