Pupils are Failing in Maths and English

By Saiqa Chaudhari

THE state of secondary education in Bolton is laid bare in new government tables published today, which show the town’s state high schools are failing to making the grade.

Only 41 per cent of pupils across the borough are leaving with GCSE pass grades in maths and English, while even fewer pupils – 38 per cent – achieve five passes including the two core subjects.

The figures have seen Bolton fall by four places on last year to 111th in a national table of 150 local education authorities in England.

The Tory spokeswoman for education at Bolton Council, Cllr Diana Brierly, said: “It is simply not acceptable that so many Bolton children do not have the benchmark standards in maths and English.

“Until the Government stops interfering and changing targets, nothing will improve. We are first to acknowledge the amount of money which has gone into schools but it does not seem to be making a difference.”

The secondary school performance tables show that, although 51.1 per cent of pupils achieved five or more GCSEs at A*-C grade, the figure drops to 38 per cent when English and maths are included in the equation. The national average for both categories is 59.2 per cent and 45.8 per cent respectively.

The pass rate at grades A*-C for GCSE maths and English is 41.4 per cent, meaning six out of every 10 pupils leave school having failed the subjects.

It is the first time the Department for Education and Skills (Dfes) has included English and maths pass rates in its calculations when composing the tables.

Previously, the league tables were calculated on the numbers of pupils achieving at least five passes in any subjects.

Despite the apparent crisis in pass rates and GCSE education, Cllr Rosa Kay, Bolton Council’s Executive Member for Schools, said today’s league tables are cause for celebration.

“Some schools recently celebrated their best success rates. We want to celebrate these individual successes and provide pupils with the confidence to go on and achieve greater success and set an example for others to follow,” she said.

Bolton School’s Boys and Girls’ Divisions came top of the table with 99 per cent of pupils achieving grades A*-C in five subjects including maths and English.

The top-performing state school is Canon Slade, which achieved 78 per cent.

At the other end of the table is Withins School in Breightmet, where only 14 per cent of pupils met the required standard. The school, in Newby Road, was also in the bottom 200 schools nationally.

Bolton North-east MP David Crausby, whose constituency covers Withins School, said: “The numbers of children leaving school without maths and English GCSE needs to be addressed.

“But league tables present a very rough picture of a school, and Withins is doing tremendous work with the pupils which can be seen through its value-added performance.”

In a table of all 150 local education authorities ranked by the average percentage of candidates making the grade in five subjects including maths and English, Bolton’s 111 is a drop of four places on last year but is still an improvement on the 2005 ranking of 113.

A council spokesman said: “Ten of the 16 schools in the borough improved on their 2005 performance with one school making an improvement of 20 percentage points.

“This has been due to a series of initiatives which are achieving results such as schools working together in three geographic clusters to capitalise on their strengths.”

Bury is at 46, Wigan is at 86 and Salford at 139 in the latest table.

David Hng

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