‘Must do better’ - that was the message for Sheffield schools hit by controversial Government reforms of GCSE results tables.
Improvements have been promised across the region, but serious concerns have been raised about the validity of the Government’s findings after three of the city’s biggest schools failed to hit minimum targets.
Falling pass rates across the country have been reflected in South Yorkshire after ministers toughened exams and banned re-sit results and some vocational qualifications from school tables.
Chaucer School in Parson Cross, Fir Vale School Academy in Page Hall and Sheffield Springs Academy in Gleadless all failed to hit the Government’s benchmark for at least 40 per cent of pupils to get five C grades or above, including English and maths.
No one from any of the three schools, all closed because of snow yesterday, was available for comment.
All three of the schools have academy status, meaning they are independent of Sheffield Council and receive funding directly from the Government.
The independent Al-Mahad-Al-Islami School in Darnall also failed to hit the national target, with only two of its eight pupils who sat their GCSEs getting five Cs or above.
Clive Betts, MP for Sheffield South, said he was concerned about the downgrading of vocational subjects and added that he was also worried about more schools moving out of local authority control into academy status.
“Responsibility for students and performance is completely fragmented now,” he said.
There is no local responsibility for academies - the council doesn’t have oversight over them.”
Four schools in Barnsley, two in Rotherham and two in Doncaster also did not reach the 40 per cent target.
In Rotherham, Clifton Community School and Wingfield Academy did not meet the 40 per cent target, with Mexborough School and Danum Academy in Doncaster also below the benchmark.
Four schools in Barnsley also failed to achieve the rate last year - Barnsley Academy, Carlton Community College, Dearne Advanced Learning Centre and Shafton Advanced Learning Centre.
But schools celebrating improvements despite the tougher new requirements included Parkwood Academy in Shirecliffe, which saw its pass rates go up from 41 per cent to 51 per cent, while Park Academy in Manor recorded a 66 per cent success rate, up five per cent on last year.
Meadowhead School Academy was among those affected by the tougher results regime, with its success rate falling from 65 per cent in 2013 to 48 per cent last year.
Jayne Ludlam, executive director of children, young people and families at Sheffield Council, said the Government’s changes made the 2014 results ‘incomparable’ with previous years.
But she added: “Despite these changes, we are pleased that we are now performing in line with other local authorities in Yorkshire and Humber.
“This is an improvement on last year when we were 2.2 per cent below the other authorities in the area. We are also pleased Sheffield’s performance compared to other local authorities has improved from 115th to 109th. We will continue to work with all schools to support young people to ensure they achieve their potential.”
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “By stripping out thousands of poor quality qualifications and removing resits from tables, some schools have seen changes in their standings. But fundamentally achievement matters more than being able to trumpet ever higher grades.”