Failing secondaries at risk of closure or takeover


Hundreds of secondary schools are at risk of takeover or closure following official statistics on falling GCSE grades.

Fewer teenagers scored at least five C grades in their GCSEs, including English and maths, this year amid major changes to the exams and school league tables.

In total, just 55.9 per cent of state school pupils in England reached the crucial five A* to C benchmark, including the basics, compared to 60.6 per cent last year.

This places more schools in danger of dipping below the government’s minimum performance standards. Headteachers must ensure that 40 per cent of pupils achieve five A*s to C GCSEs including English and maths, and show that they are making enough progress in these key subjects.

Failing to meet these targets puts their jobs in jeopardy and schools under threat of intervention and closure. In the worst cases, schools could be forced to become academies with private sponsors appointed to run them.

Some 154 secondary schools teaching 117,000 pupils are already below the 40 per cent threshold, based on last year’s exam results.

The number is expected to rise significantly due to the fall in the national headline figure this year.

The statistics also show that 61.2 per cent of girls at state schools scored at least five C grades including English and maths this year, compared with 50.8 per cent of boys - a 10.4 point gap.

Meanwhile across all secondary schools, just over half (52.6 per cent) of pupils scored five A* to C grades including English and maths, down from 59.2 per cent last year.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said he expected more than 200 schools to fall below the government threshold this year.

He said: "The new results are giving us a more accurate picture of what pupils are really achieving. The net effect is that some schools that would have achieved at the required level under the old, looser qualifications, will not do so now. It will be a warning signal to those schools that they have to sharpen their act."

The data also shows the percentage of pupils who were entered for all English Baccalaureate (E-Bacc) subjects. This was 36.1% for all pupils.

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