Two Blackburn faith schools top charts for GCSE progress

Tauheedul Islam boys’ high school in Blackburn.

Two state faith schools in Blackburn topped national tables for the biggest improvement in their pupils’ performance in GCSE exams this year, with grammar schools trailing behind a string of comprehensives and faith schools.

Tauheedul Islam girls’ high school in Blackburn came top for all schools in England using the government’s new Progress 8 measure of attainment,published on Thursday for the first time.

It was followed in third place by Tauheedul Islam boys’ school, a free school established by the same Blackburn-based multi-academy trust.

The girls’ school registered a Progress 8 score of 1.38 – meaning its rate of improvement was more than an entire GCSE grade better than pupils with similar backgrounds nationally.

Hamid Patel, the chief executive of Tauheedul Education Trust, which established the two schools, said the results demonstrated the impact its schools were having.

“It is especially rewarding to see that some of our most vulnerable learners – those who join us from primary school behind the expected level of attainment and those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds – have achieved such outstanding results,” Patel said.

“We are focused on building on this success across our family of schools, and by working with others across the country to ensure every young person has the opportunity to fulfill their potential, whatever their background.”

The trust now runs18 free schools and academies across England, including three non-faith schools.

Two schools run by the Harris multi-academy trust – in Battersea and east Dulwich – also appeared in the national top 10.

Using the government’s previous measure – the proportion of pupils getting grades A* to C in five subjects including English and maths – the national pass rate for state schools in England rose by 0.4 of a percentage point to 58.7%.

Nick Gibb, the school standards minister, said the provisional data would help parents choose secondary schools for their children.

“I am pleased to see that there are more GCSEs being taken in the core academic subjects, those that give students the widest range of opportunities,” Gibb said.

“Our focus is on removing unnecessary barriers to creating even more good school places, and the introduction of Progress 8 scores will ensure we measure schools on how they support every child to achieve their full potential.”

Researchers at Education Datalab estimated that 296 schools appeared to fall below the government’s Progress 8 floor standard, which could see them subject to close inspection and undergo a change of management.

The figures showed a number of studio schools and university technical colleges with progress results below the 0.5 floor.

“There are also a surprising number of the government’s flagship free schools that, based on this provisional data, appear to be below the floor standard,” said Rebecca Allen, Datalab’s director, who estimated that eight mainstream free schools were affected.

The new value-added figures offered evidence for both sides in the battle over expanding selective schools. Non-selective inner London local authorities outperformed those such as Kent that have maintained grammar schools in large numbers.

However, the national figures showed that the 163 grammar schools across England had better progress scores across all attainment levels than the other 2,800 state secondaries, achieving around a third of a GCSE grade higher than pupils with the same prior results at other schools. Experts said that was not surprising given the control that selective schools have over their admissions.

Tunbridge Wells girls’ school was the best performing grammar for progress, in 17th place nationally.

Selective schools dominated the new Attainment 8 measure, based on grades achieved in eight subjects including English and maths, with the top result from the Henrietta Barnett girls’ school in north London.

The average Attainment 8 score per pupil increased by 1.6 percentage points to 49.8% nationally, compared with the same data in 2015. The improvement was driven by increasing numbers of pupils entered for the English Baccalaureate (Ebacc) suite of subjects, which is now includes nearly 40% of all pupils.

Campaigners for arts subjects pointed out that the new figures showed the proportion of pupils entered for at least one arts subject had fallen further.

“This confirms our fears that the new EBacc proposal, which was announced by the Department for Education in November last year, is having an immediate impact on the uptake of creative, artistic and technical subjects in schools,” said Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians.

The gender split remains wide, with girls outperforming boys in all measures at key stage four. Boys recorded a negative progress score overall while girls had a positive figure.

The national A-level results showed little change on the previous year, with a 0.1 point decline in the proportion awarded A*-A to 26.4%, and a slight improvement in the proportion achieving A*-E to 98.8%.

The A-level league tables were again dominated by independent schools, headed by St Pauls’ girls’ school (SPGS) where 85% of pupils achieved top marks in the facilitating subjects prized by universities.

Westminster school and SPGS topped the table for highest average A-level entry. Henrietta Barnett and Queen Elizabeth’s boys’ school in north London were the best performing state schools. Brampton Manor academy in east London was the best of the comprehensives, making the top 100 overall.


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