Education chiefs hope Burnley’s dismal GCSE record at an end

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CHILDREN sitting their GCSEs this week are set to write a new chapter in education for Burnley.

Dismal figures that shamed the town at the bottom of the exam league table look likely to be confined to the history bin if predicted grades come up to expectation.

The hiatus will judge if the £250m. Building Schools for the Future project, that has created some of the best equipped schools in the country, has worked. The current Year 11 pupils are the first children to have had all their senior school education in the new buildings.

Figures released for 2009, the latest available, put Burnley at the bottom of the exam league for pupils gaining five GCSE passes. Its position as 326th in the country was down on the previous year when it managed a 317th place in the league. The town’s position was a stark contrast with neighbouring Ribble Valley, which was ranked 17th.

Last year’s unofficial figures were little better, with, for example, fewer than one in four children at Shuttleworth College getting a decent grade in maths.

Retiring head teacher Martin Burgess says it will be a different story when this year’s GCSE results are published at the end of August.

“It’s the real thing,” he said. “I’m sure the results we will be looking at will be reflected in improvements all around the Burnley schools.

“This is the first year group that have been at Shuttleworth from the beginning. We already know 44% of them have grade C in maths, and we suspect that figure could well go up. If we can do that for maths, we can do it in other subjects. The coursework marks for English are 58%, so I’m pretty sure the exam results will be good.”

Burnley Council leader Charlie Briggs said: “I’m hoping the results will be better than last year and the year before.

“We have all sorts of fantastic things going on in our schools. Parents and children at Hameldon are really pleased, and children I have spoken to at Unity say the school is the best thing since sliced bread.

“Children are enjoying their education and it looks like it is getting results.

“We were really at the bottom of the list and I hope that there will be a lot of improvement.”