The Council has now given me a school-by-school analysis of this year’s GCSE results. Across the borough as a whole, the number of pupils achieving 5 A*-C passes including English and Maths is up from 61% last year to 64% this year. This is at a time when nationally the percentage of children achieving this level has fallen slightly to 69.4%.
First and foremost, these results are down to the hard work of pupils, teachers and support staff. But as I argued at this time last year they are also down to the controversial decisions the Conservative administration at Croydon Town Hall 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, just 26% of Ashburton students got 5 A*-C GCSEs including English and Maths; three years later that figure is 66% - the same as Archbishop Tenison’s; and
• The Quest Academy replaced Selsdon High in September 2010. In August 2010, just 23% of Selsdon High students got 5 A*-C GCSEs including English and Maths; two years later that figure has doubled to 46%.
They haven't delivered these improvements by changing their admission criteria - the pupils who achieved these results were already at the schools when they became academies. The transformation is solely due to the change in leadership and the resulting improvements in the quality of teaching and the ethos of the schools.
But the replacement of poorly performing schools with new academies hasn't just benefited the schools concerned - it has also pushed other schools to raise their game.
In the light of this success, it’s easy to forget that at the time the replacement of these poorly performing schools with academies was very controversial. The decision was opposed by the teaching unions, by my predecessor as Croydon Central MP, by the Labour Party in Croydon including my Labour opponent at the last General Election who bizarrely called Ashburton a "good community school" when hardly any local parents sent their children there (although to give credit where it’s due they were backed by the Labour Party nationally). So as well as congratulating the students and staff who are primarily responsible for this success, we should also give a hat-tip to the councillors who pushed through the changes that have already done so much to improve the life-chances of our young people. Croydon schools used to perform below the national average. The current administration has turned that round. It is one of its greatest achievements.
Here are the results for all the schools in my constituency, showing the percentage of pupils achieving 5 A*-C GCSEs including English and Maths and the change since last year in brackets:
Coloma 93% (+3)
Shirley High 72% (+1)
Archbishop Tenison's 66% (-2)
Oasis Academy Shirley Park 66% (+14)
Edenham 48% (-5)
Quest Academy 46% (+5)
Addington High 45% (+9)
St Mary's 40% (-10)
In addition to the points made above about Oasis Shirley Park and Quest, it’s great to see the significant improvement in Addington High’s results. Before the last Election, I - along with local Labour councillors and the community as a whole - campaigned hard to keep the school open and I very much hope that it will continue to build on this improvement. The Edenham and St Mary’s results are obviously a cause for concern and I will be meeting with the respective Headteachers to discuss them (St Mary’s problem appears to be their English results - 77% of pupils achieved a grade C grade or better in Maths but only 41% in English; at Edenham the respective figures were 58% and 56%).