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Magnus misses target for GCSE passes


Newark’s Magnus Church of England School is the worst of 52 secondary schools in Nottinghamshire for GCSE pass-rates at A*-C grades including maths and English.

That is according to the latest school league tables published by the Government yesterday.

Magnus scored 13% for the pass-rate in 2008, down from 28% the previous year and well short of the Government’s target of 30%.

Only 22 schools nationwide had a lower percentage than the Magnus, however, the school’s pass-rate without maths and English rises to about 40%.

The Magnus is the only school in the area, apart from The Newark High School, which closed in August, that failed to meet the national target.

Schools that fail are judged to be under-performing and could face closure or being turned into an academy if results do not improve.

The Magnus, which was placed in special measures in May last year, fared better at A-level.

The average point score at A-level, including other equivalent qualifications, was 759, up from 673.1 in 2007.

The school was ranked 15th out of 47 in the county.

Newark High improved slightly with 20% of pupils gaining five A*-C grades, including maths and English, compared with 19% in 2007. This ranked it in 50th place in the county.

Newark High had the highest rate in Nottinghamshire of persistent absence among pupils at 21%.

The Magnus was fourth with 11.6% and Dayncourt at Radcliffe was sixth with 10%.

The Magnus head, Mr Ian Anderson, said: “We are extremely disappointed with last summer’s GCSE results, but I would stress that they are a reflection of the school as it was when it was placed into special measures.

“However, the large fall in the headline percentage of the number of students achieving five or more GCSEs at grades A*-C, including English and Maths, was due largely to very poor performance in maths and disguises the fact that the overall higher grade pass-rate was in fact higher than in most recent years.”

He said they had workedhard in a number of key areas that would lead to considerable improvements when the results for summer 2009 were published.

This included a programme of teacher training and an intensive catch-up programme for under-achieving year 11 students.

Mr Anderson said: “In October, Ofsted recognised that we had made a positive start in addressing the key issues facing the school and we look forward to their return around Easter, when we are confidentthey will see significant steps along the road to restoring Magnus to its position as a school of which the people of Newark can be proud.”

Mr Anderson said attendance figures for this year had improved massively and were now well above 90%.

He said pupils at risk of becoming persistent absentees had shown a significant improvement and this was as a result of changes to the pastoral system.

Balderton’s Grove School’s GCSE pass-rate, including English and maths, rises from 32% to 38% in the latest tables. It is ranked 33rd in the county.

The Grove’s A-level score rose from 746.3 to 774.6 leaving it in 13th.

The head, Mrs Patricia Head, said the school recorded its highest percentage of pupils gaining five A*-C grades at 54%, not including maths and English.

She said: “It is really important for us, in a community of widespread abilities, that every child gained at least one qualification.

“It was a good set of results for us in 2008. Everything improved.”

She said it was another excellent set of results for the sixth form.

Mrs Head said the Government’s 30% target appeared to have been plucked from the air.

She said although it was not an issue for the Grove, it did not take into account children’s starting points when they joined secondary schools.

She said the target was an unfair reflection on the amount of work done by schools that struggled to meet the target.

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