With the release of the annual school league tables on Friday, it can be revealed which are the top-performing schools in the Salford area based on student progress and examination results.
The government-released data covers a number of areas, but most significant in the education sector in recent years has been the Progress 8 and Attainment 8 scores of the institutions.
The school that achieved the highest Progress 8 score is all-girls’ Beis Yaakov High School, in Higher Broughton, which managed a positive score of 0.9 – well above average.
Ellesmere Park High School, in Eccles, was the highest-achieving mixed-gender school, managing a positive score of 0.42, while St Patrick’s RC High School, also in Eccles, achieved a positive score of 0.36.
Progress 8 Explained
Progress 8 has, along with Attainment 8, become the key buzzword of this year’s school league tables, but what does it mean?
The score shows how much progress pupils at the school made between the end of Key Stage 2 and the end of Key Stage 4, compared with pupils across England who got similar results at the end of Key Stage 2.
This score is based on results in up to eight qualifications, which include English, maths, three English Baccalaureate qualifications – including sciences, computer science, history, geography and languages – and three other additional approved qualifications.
A score above zero means pupils made more progress, on average, than pupils across England who got similar Key Stage 2 results.
Similarly, a score below zero means pupils made less progress, on average, than pupils across England who got similar Key Stage 2 results.
However, a negative progress score does not mean pupils made no progress, but rather that they had made less progress than the national average.
Attainment 8 Explained
Attainment 8 is a score based on how well pupils have performed in up to eight qualifications – the same categories as the Progress 8 score works off.
Beis Yaakov High School also achieved an above average Attainment 8 score of 55.5 points. The national average stands at 44.6 points, whilst the local authority average is 41.7 points.
The Jewish all-girls school was founded in 1957, and was rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted in its last inspection, in December 2015. The school became a state-funded voluntary aided school in 2005, and converted to academy status in 2012.
Headteacher Stacey Feddy said of the achievements: “We are delighted with the results across the board. Every girl has made fabulous progress in all areas of the curriculum.”
She explained how the school used targets to achieve the students’ success: “We set aspirational targets for all our pupils and together with their hard work and the dedication and commitment of the teaching staff we have managed to motivate the girls to achieve these results.
“[Beis Yaakov] have targeted intervention for any pupil who is below target or struggling in any particular area. This usually takes place over the lunch period.”
Mrs Feddy explained that the school would continue to set aspirational targets and provide targeted intervention to achieve successful results, though was keen to stress that each cohort of students are unique and presented their own strengths and challenges, so should and would be treated individually.
The highest Progress 8 score achieved by a mixed-gender school was Ellesmere Park High School with a score of 0.42. Ellesmere Park also had a higher than average Attainment 8 score with 48.8 points.
The school did fall below the national average in Grade 5 GSCEs including English and maths, achieving 34% compared to the national average of 39.6%. It was, however, higher than the local authority average, which was just 31.9%.
Headteacher Heather Aaron said: “Our vision at EPHS is ‘Vibrant, Inclusive and Proud’ – we are all ‘Very Important People’ and our students last year certainly lived up to that! Everyone at Ellesmere Park High School is very proud of the progress made by our students last year.”
Mrs Aaron was also keen to explain how Ellesmere Park teach their students on a character-developing level, as well as academically: “We’re very proud not only on the Progress 8 measure but also in the so called “soft” outcomes of developing into mature, caring young people who we know will go on to do great things in the future. Though these are not measurable in the way that examination performance is they are fundamental to the work of our school and every school in the country.”
The hard work of the staff at Ellesmere Park was one of the areas Mrs Aaron was most proud of: “All school staff work hard and I am constantly humbled by the amount of their own time the staff are willing to give to ensure our students’ success.
Ellesmere Park’s achievement, in the view of Mrs Aaron, was also helped significantly by the close working relationship of students, parents and the school.
“When school and home are working as a team for the good of the child and the parents are supportive of the school then success undoubtedly follows. I would urge every parent to do help make the difference.”
The last of the top three performing schools was St Patrick’s RC High School, which also achieved an above average Attainment 8 score – at 53.8 points, higher than Ellesmere Park.
St Patrick’s also achieved the highest Grade 5 GSCEs including English and maths in the local area with a 65% attainment rate.
Headteacher Alison Byrne said of the school’s success: “We were thrilled with the Class of 2017’s GCSE results as they were thoroughly deserved and a culmination of hard work from pupils and staff together.
“We were most proud of our Progress 8 score of +0.36, which was well above national average, because this means that we are pushing pupils beyond where they would have expected to be based on the KS2 scores they arrived with at age 11. This shows that we develop and enrich our pupils through academic stretch and pastoral support, driven by our Catholic ethos.”
She added: “We are proud of our past pupils’ successes and we are determined and driven to ensure that each and every child who comes to St Patrick’s receives an excellent education.
“This is the secret to our success: we never stand still and we never stop trying to learn and improve further for the sake of the young people in our care.”
By contrast to these top performers, the school to achieve the lowest Progress 8 score in the Salford area was New Park School, who were given a score of -2.71 by the government figures, well below the national average.
The school also recorded an Attainment 8 score of just 6.7 points, compared with the national and local authority averages of over 40 points.
New Park had already received an Inadequate rating from Ofsted in December 2016, and will not have been helped by the low scoring for Progress 8 and Attainment 8.