Today's Croydon Advertiser has a table showing the GCSE results for every state school in the borough (I can't find it online to link to but have listed the figures for the schools in Croydon Central below).
Across Croydon as a whole, the number of pupils achieving 5 A*-C passes including English and Maths is up from 55% last year to 61% this year, an increase well above the national average.
First and foremost, this is testament to the hard work of pupils, teachers and support staff.
But if you look at the school by school results it is also a vindication of the decisions our Conservative Council took a few years ago to close low-performing schools Ashburton, Coulsdon High, Haling Manor and Selsdon High and open new academies in their place.
Take the two examples in my constituency:
- the Oasis Academy Shirley Park replaced Ashburton in September 2009. In August 2009, 26% of Ashburton students got 5 A*-C GCSEs including English and Maths; last year 46% of Oasis pupils achieved this standard and this year 52% did so; and
- the Quest Academy replaced Selsdon High in September 2010. In August 2010, 23% of Selsdon High students got 5 A*-C GCSEs including English and Maths; this year 41% of Quest pupils achieved this standard.
They - and the other new academies in Croydon - are among the most improved schools in the country. And they haven't delivered these improvements by changing their admission criteria - they inherited the pupils who achieved these results from their predecessor schools - but through a change of leadership and ethos.
And not only are these new academies performing much better than the schools that they replaced but their establishment has pushed other schools to raise their game - as the table below shows, schools like Shirley High and Edenham have done much better this year:
Coloma 90% (+2)
Shirley High 71% (+11)
Archbishop Tenison's 68% (-9)
Edenham 53% (+9)
Oasis Academy Shirley Park 52% (+6)
St Mary's 50% (+5)
Quest Academy 41% (+18)
Addington High 36% (-2)
In the light of this successs, it is easy to forget that at the time these changes were very controversial - they were opposed by my predecessor Andrew Pelling and by my Labour opponent Gerry Ryan (who bizarrely called Ashburton a "good community school" when hardly any local parents sent their children there), although they were backed by the Labour Government of the time. So as well as congratulating the students and teachers who are primarily responsible for this success, we should also give a hat-tip to the councillors who pushed through these reforms that have already done so much to improve the life-chances of our young people.