HEAD teachers have hit out at the latest government league tables which rate schools by the progress of their pupils.

Under the new rating system, three schools in Salisbury and south Wiltshire were classed as “well below average” after failing to reach floor targets.

Others including Bishop Wordsworth’s - rated outstanding by Ofsted - were deemed “average” under the new measure.

Some head teachers attacked the Journal for publishing the tables online last week - despite the fact that they are free to view on the government’s website.

Others accused this newspaper of “irresponsible journalism” for not seeking an explanation from South Wiltshire secondary schools before publishing the official figures.

They say the tables are distorted because they do not take into account pupils who sit certain exams earlier than normal.

The Progress 8 score measures the students’ progress in eight subjects, with particular emphasis on English and maths, between the end of primary school and the end of their GCSEs.

South Wilts Grammar School was rated “well above average”, placing it in the top 12 per cent of schools in England.

But three local schools failed to reach the government’s floor standard for progress, which required all schools to reach a minimum score of -0.5.

St Edmund’s Girls’ School in Laverstock, South Wiltshire UTC in Salisbury and Avon Valley College in Durrington ranked in the bottom 12 per cent of schools across the country.

The three schools were classed as “well below average”, which meant they had a score between -0.83 and -0.41.

Wellington Academy in Ludgershall, Stonehenge School in Amesbury and Wyvern College in Laverstock were rated “below average”. St Joseph’s in Laverstock and Bishop Wordsworth’s in Salisbury were rated “average”, as were Sarum Academy in Salisbury, Burgate in Fordingbridge and Trafalgar in Downton.

Sarah Busby of the Wessex Partnership of Secondary Headteachers, which represents 14 schools and colleges in south Wiltshire, said the league table was “distorted”.

Ms Busby added: “Head teachers are not against banding for progress at all. On the contrary, we have welcomed it, because it means that a school taking in students of low ability can achieve very well in terms of progress, such as through the difference they make to those students from their entry point in the school.

“Previously, schools were judged simply on attainment, so a school taking in bright pupils is inevitably going to do well as they will come out with high grades.”

But she said the system did not show the whole picture. “The context of a school cannot be understood from data alone and Salisbury, with its wide range of secondary schools, has more differences in context than many other areas.”

But Bill Browne, editor-in-chief of the Journal, said those complaining were directing their anger in the wrong place. “This newspaper is one of record. The results were not hidden data they were in plain sight for all to see. We have always had a policy of publishing the rankings and we get few complaints from head teachers when we publish favourable Ofsted reports.”

The Department for Education did not respond to concerns raised about the new ratings system.

Head teachers respond to ratings under new system

  • ST Edmund’s Girls’ School head teacher Nicola Bull said that students at the school made “better than average” progress but the government statistics had not included early-entry English language GCSE results - sat by girls in Year 10 rather than Year 11 - which meant its score was “hugely affected”.

The school said if these results had been included by the government it would have scored around +0.1, placing it in the “average” category.

  • AVON Valley College principal Sam Johnston said: “Despite there being some outstanding individual performances in the 2017 GCSE results, the school performance overall, as measured by progress from starting points at Key Stage 2, was poor and compares unfavourably with other schools in Wiltshire.”

He added that there had been a “renewed passion” to drive towards “uncompromisingly high standards”.

  • SOUTH Wiltshire UTC principal Joe Mulligan said that the measure is not designed for a University Technical College as its students only attend for the last two of the five years covered by the measure, adding: “But the progress, or lack of it, made by students at their previous school during Key Stage 3 is wholly attributed to the UTC.”

He added that many of the technical subjects the college offered did not qualify for inclusion in the Progress 8 score.

  • BISHOP Wordsworth’s headmaster Stuart Smallwood said the school’s score did not represent its progression as a quarter of the year group took their GCSE maths exam a year early, with each pupil receiving a high grade.

He added that he “suspected” the school “would have done considerably better” if this was taken into account, and that the league table data is not “simple or easy to understand” for parents.