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Norwich schools are among England's best

Two schools in the Norwich area are competing with the nation's best after being named among the most improved for their GCSE results.

Sprowston High and Thorpe St Andrew School take the accolades in this year’s GCSE and A-level performance tables, which were published today by the government.

Thorpe St Andrew School was 152nd most improved secondary school in England, after the percentage of 16-year-olds getting five or more A*-C GCSEs, including English and maths, went up from 52pc in 2007 to 71pc in 2010.

Ian Clayton, headteacher of the Laundry Lane school, said: “I didn’t know about this. It is a really pleasing piece of news.

“It’s more pleasing because it’s achievement at the higher end. I’m very proud of that. The reasons behind it are our really close look at student performance, subject by subject, getting the curriculum right for them and supporting them to achieve the very best performance possible.

“The headline rates are brilliant, but they come about because each student performs at or above the level demanded of them.”

Sprowston High was 191st most improved, with the percentage of 16-year-olds getting five or more A*-C GCSEs, including English and maths, up from 41pc in 2007 to 59pc in 2010.

The school has maintained its upward curve, having been 156th most improved in England last year, after the percentage leapt from 37pc in 2006 to 53pc in 2009.

Other city area schools to shine in the GCSE tables included City Academy Norwich on Earlham Road, which had the bittersweet news that it had improved from 19pc to 26pc of students getting the gold standards of five good GCSEs including English and maths, but was still 43rd worst in England on the basis of the results.

Hellesdon High on Middletons Lane surged from 48pc to 60pc.

It is not all good news in and around the city, though.

The Hewett School on Cecil Road, Lakenham, is 71st worst in England for the percentage of students achieving the GCSE gold standard, with just 28pc making the mark. Despite another slight improvement from 32pc to 33pc, Open Academy on Marryat Road, Heartsease, was 206th worst.

Three years ago, Earlham High School was almost rock bottom in England for its GCSE results, when just 6pc of its students hit the target level. There were also big problems with truancy.

Although there is evidence that things are improving at its successor, City Academy Norwich, the league tables suggest there is still some way to go.

Along with being 43rd worst in England for its GCSE results, it is 98th worst for the amount of value it adds to its students between age 11 and age 16, and 174th worst for persistent absence, with 9.2pc of students missing at least one day of school each week.

The tables confirmed that Norfolk had improved its proportion of students getting five A*-C GCSEs, including English and maths, from 50pc in 2009 to 52.3pc in 2010. But the county is improving more slowly than many of its rivals, and has dropped from 78th to 103rd in the table of 150 local authorities.

At A-level, Norfolk has improved both its results and its placing – from an average points score of 704.6 (80th place) to 721.2 (65th).

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “These are record results for Norfolk students and there have been some remarkable success stories with Cromer High, Sprowston High and Thorpe St Andrew named in the 200 most improved schools.

“However, there is still more work to be done to ensure that all of Norfolk’s students are achieving their potential and we have seen a dip in results at seven of our schools.

“While it is disappointing to see any Norfolk schools near to the bottom of these tables, two of these schools have recently become academies and have just heard that they will receive significant capital investment, which we are confident, will help to further drive improvement and raise aspirations.

“City Academy has also just begun a £21m transformation to develop an inspirational new building and students at Open have just celebrated the opening of their fantastic new building.”

Do you have a schools story? Call education correspondent Steve Downes on 01263 513920 or email steve.downes@archant.co.uk.

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