I thought it might be timely to say something about the outstanding results achieved by our highest achievers at Bennett, of whom we have many. Bennett is one of the best schools in England, and certainly the best in Kent or elsewhere locally, for achieving outstanding progress right across the spectrum with our students, including those with the highest aspirations, as well as those facing particular challenges. But there are also plenty of other great schools doing similar things across England.
We measure students (as Ofsted do) when they start secondary school by the levels they have achieved in the core subjects of English and maths at the end of primary school. The strongest primary students leave primary school with a level 5, and specifically with a level 5a (until this last year when for the first time they could do level 6 tests as well). We in secondary school then measure their progress from this point on until their GCSE grades, and work out what Ofsted calls ‘levels of progress’ from their primary SATS scores to their GCSE grades. This is easy to do becasue GCSE grades all have equivalent levels, so we can literally count the levels of progress students have made from SATS to GCSE.
The government says that all secondary students, however high or low they start secondary school, should be making three levels of progress from SATS to GCSE. That is the target. In fact across the country fewer than 70% do so.
At Bennett however we far exceed that figure with – in 2012 – well over 90% making expected progress in maths and 80% in English (the previous year’s figure for English was also well over 90% but then everyone is aware of the GCSE English problem in 2012).
However, it is the progress of the strongest students I want to highlight here. Let’s take maths first. Of those starting secondary school on level 5, in 2012 96% made the expected 3 levels of progress (compared with a national figure of 79%), and a stunning 77% made FOUR levels of progress, way, way above expectations, compared with a national figure of only 50%. That demonstrates just how good Bennett is at moving forward the highest achievers and getting them their top GCSE grades.
In English the figures for 2012 are skewed somewhat by the GCSE debacle, but nonetheless for level 5 students their achievement at GCSE was a full 10 percentage points above national figures both for making the expected progress and for those exceeding it by a whole grade and making four levels of progress.
It may well be true that across the country there is further to go on ensuring that students who have achieved well in primary school go on to get the best grades at GCSE. However there are many schools, and Bennett is a shining example, if not THE shining example, where this is exactly what happens. We do it through a strong values system, a commitment to outstanding teaching and rigorous assessment and accountability, along with magnificent parental support.
Finally, I just wanted to record my thanks to the history department for their excellent trip to the Battlefields of France and Belgium this week. An educational and moving time was had by all, with superb behaviour and engagement from students. We are now thinking about how to mark the momentous 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War next year with students.