A POOLE school has clocked up the worst GCSE results in the country.
Just three per cent of pupils leaving St Aldhelm’s Academy last summer scored the benchmark five A* - C GCSE grades, including English and maths.
That’s a drop of 11 places in a year for the former Rossmore Community College, taken over by sponsors the Diocese of Salisbury and Bournemouth University in September 2010 in a bid to raise standards.
Today the Borough of Poole has demanded urgent improvements at the school and action from the sponsors. It has also offered to help the school.
Carter Community School in Poole has also fared badly in league tables published today.
It is ranked as the 10th worst in the country with just 21 per cent reaching the benchmark standard.
St Aldhelm’s Academy principal Cheryl Heron told the Daily Echo she was “extremely disappointed” with the results, but said eight months simply wasn’t long enough for the 16-year-olds to fully benefit from academy-rule.
Pledging that close monitoring would ensure performance is ‘significantly higher’ this year, Ms Heron said: “Going back to when I first came here, I did say it would not be easy, that it would be difficult and we would go down before we went up. Unfortunately that has come true.”
Millions have been pumped into turning the school around, and a £11 million re-build project of its Herbert Avenue campus begins in August.
The focus is now on giving each of St Aldhelm’s Acad-emy’s 465 students a ‘personalised learning programme.’ Attendance has risen four per cent to 93 per cent this year and now there are no permanent exclusions. Ms Heron hoped to encourage more pupils to attend the Academy, which is currently only half full.
“We’ve got to convince those coming here with an outdated view of what it’s like,” she said.
“The 465 young people that we’re working with do not want to be tarred by that image. We are not perfect, but we are working on it.”
Chairman of governors Anne Fernandez and Chris Shepperd, Director of Education at Salisbury Diocese, St Aldhelm’s lead sponsor, say they fully supported Ms Heron.
Mr Shepperd said: “The five A* – C barrier in a school like this is never going to be easy for every child to clear.”
Rob Davies, headteacher at Carter Community School, said: “Despite these figures, Carter is continuing to improve and many of our results show how much our students are achieving.”
“In 2011, 63 per cent of our year 11 students gained five GCSEs grades A*-C and this means that more Carter students than ever are able to continue with post-16 studies.
“Every student leaves Carter with a qualification, in line with the inclusive nature of the school.”
“The best eight results that students achieved were also a school record, reaching 319 points for this year group. “This is a significant improvement on previous years,” he added.
Vocational studies for pupils
FORTY of St Aldhelm’s Academy’s more disaffected and challenged learners now spend four days a week on vocational studies.
Four satellite learning sites have been set up, including stables in Studland, Cedar Organic Farm and allotments at Kingston Lacy, near Wimborne.
Os Filmalter, learning zone director for vocational studies, says it’s about reaching out to teenagers with basic numeracy and literacy issues and a “history of disaffection” dating back years.
Every pupil on last year’s programme got a Level One maths certificate, he said.