Disappointment over school results - but boys close the gap on girls


West Sussex has been ranked as one of the worst performing authorities in the country for school results.

The Department for Education (DfE) published its provisional statistics showing how 10-and-11-year olds had performed at the end of Key Stage Two – and the news was not good.

Ranked alongside the likes of Norfolk and Somerset, only 77 per cent of children at state-funded schools in West Sussex achieved the average Level 4 or above in reading, writing and mathematics.

In comparison, the top-performing authorities, such as Surrey and Hampshire, saw results of up to 90 per cent.

Councillor Jeremy Hunt, cabinet member for education and skills, described the figures as “disappointing” but refused to blame the outcome solely on the low level of government funding it received.

He added: “We recognise the disappointing Key Stage Two outcomes for schools in the summer results. It is true that West Sussex schools are amongst the lowest funded in the country, but we also know that resources are never the only answer.”

West Sussex is the lowest funded county council and one of the lowest funded local authorities. It received £4,196.37 per pupil in 2014/15, compared to £7,014.38 for Tower Hamlets and £5,308.52 for Nottingham, the highest funded authority outside London.

The county council’s acceptance that money was not the only issue was given credence by the fact Surrey performed much better with less cash – £4,096.45 per pupil.

Mr Hunt said work had already started on a more in-depth analysis of the provisional results. Once completed, work would begin with school leaders to attempt to see West Sussex performing as well as the top 25 per cent of local authorities.

He added: “We have been developing with West Sussex schools a new education vision and performance measures, which include making more use of best practice within schools in order to improve overall results.”

While the results were disappointing countywide, there was promising news for West Sussex boys, who closed the gap on girls in reading, writing and maths.

The figures showed 75 per cent of boys attained Level 4 compared to 74 per cent last year. In line with the national picture, girls still performed better, with 79 per cent achieving Level 4 or above this year – but the figure was a drop from the 81 per cent of 2014.

The pattern was repeated when it came to the county’s high-achieving youngsters.

Just over one-in-five achieved Level 5 – a standard expected of students when they reached the end of Key Stage Three at the age of 14.

Some 19 per cent of boys made the top grade, compared to 22 per cent of girls. But those figures represented a 4 per cent drop for girls and a 1 per cent rise for boys.

When it came to science, there were no changes in the attainment figures for Level 4, with girls matching the national average of 90 per cent and boys hovering just below on 88 per cent.

There was a change in the ranking among the higher-performing students, with boys edging ahead of girls in science for the first time. In 2014, 38 per cent of boys and 39 per cent of girls reached Level 5, but in 2015 the girls dropped behind to 37 per cent while the boys increased their results to 39 per cent.

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