Norfolk GCSE success story
TEENAGERS in Norfolk are celebrating a big breakthrough after topping the national average for GCSE results for the first time. The county's 16-year-olds have stolen a march on their peers by posting a spectacular increase in the percentage gaining five or more A*-C grades including English and maths.
TEENAGERS in Norfolk are celebrating a big breakthrough after topping the national average for GCSE results for the first time.
The county's 16-year-olds have stolen a march on their peers by posting a spectacular increase in the percentage gaining five or more A*-C grades including English and maths.
The move gives schools and youngsters a psychological boost for future years as they try to improve their skills to meet the needs of a changing workplace.
However, the good news at GCSE is tempered by another year of stagnation at A-level, where 18-year-olds continue to be well below the national average.
In Norfolk, 47.9pc of teenagers achieved the benchmark, up from 45.2pc in 2007 and 44.5pc in 2006. The national average is 47.6pc. The efforts push Norfolk up from 78th to 74th in the table of 150 local authorities.
Rosalie Monbiot, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services, said: “We are thrilled to have gone above the national average on the number of pupils gaining five GCSE grades A* to C, including English and maths.
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“Our schools have been focusing their efforts on raising attainment in the core subjects and it is fantastic to see the hard work of teachers, students, parents and support staff really paying off.
“One of our ambitions is for Norfolk's youngsters to be aspirational people with high levels of achievement and this shows that the huge investment we have placed in education in the county in recent years is having a real impact.”
Lisa Christensen, director of children's services, said: “These are record results for Norfolk and these young people should be congratulated for this significant achievement.
“Attainment in English and maths has risen considerably and we have been placing a real emphasis on improving results in these areas, with our support to schools focusing closely on these core subjects. These subjects are vital to the future success of the county's youngsters both in further education and in their future careers.”
At A-level, Norfolk posted an average 701.9 points per candidate - up from 694.2 in 2007, but well adrift of the national average of 739.8. The score puts it 76th nationally, up from 78th in 2007.
Nationally, more than 40,000 A-level students achieved three or more grade As in last summer's exams.
The record number will fuel speculation that standards are slipping as 12.1pc of candidates reached the high benchmark.
The latest figures also showed that more than 15,500 candidates (4.7pc) failed to achieve two or more passes at A-level.
At GCSE, more than 300,000 teenagers left secondary school last year without five good GCSE grades, including English and maths.
And one in seven schools are failing to ensure that 30pc of their pupils achieve at least five C grades, including the two core subjects.
Ministers announced last June that they wanted no school to be in this position by 2011. Statistics show that 440 schools are currently falling short of the target, down from 631 last year.
Schools that fail to meet this target are judged to be under-performing and fall under the government's controversial National Challenge initiative.
They could face closure or being turned into an Academy if their results do not improve.