RESULTS at Oxford primary schools have shot up to top off a record year of educational attainment.
In September the Oxford Mail revealed the proportion of children across Oxfordshire achieving the benchmark Level 4 in English and maths at age 11 had jumped by seven percentage points from 75 per cent to 82 per cent.
Now new Key Stage 2 figures published by the Department for Education show Oxford schools, which have historically performed poorly compared to the rest of the county, posted an average 11 percentage points increase – narrowing the gap between city and county schools to three percentage points.
That means city schools, with 79 per cent of pupils achieving the benchmark grades in both subjects, are now in line with the national average.
Oxfordshire County Council education cabinet member Melinda Tilley said the news was “fantastic” and admitted to being close to tears when she heard.
She said: “We have all worked so hard on it, I am absolutely overjoyed it has paid off.
“It’s not just County Hall. Everybody has really got a bit fed up with it and said come on, you gave got to do something.
“It’s been pressure from everyone to say this isn’t good enough. We have got to do something and these results are absolutely marvellous.”
Mrs Tilley added the improvements were down to a combination of factors.
She said the local authority had given a “tremendous” amount of support, including school improvement officers going into schools, but put the improvements down to hard work and a clearer focus within individual schools.
She said: “Governors, senior leadership teams and headteachers have got together and said we have got to do something about it and they have done it.
“It’s also something to do with the threat of takeover and academy status – what they want to do is choose, rather than being pushed.”
In Oxford city, 85 per cent of pupils achieved Level 4 or higher in English, up eight percentage points, 84 per cent in maths, up 10 percentage points, and 85 per cent in reading, up four percentage points.
That compares to Oxfordshire figures where 87 per cent made the grade in English, 86 per cent in maths and 88 per cent in reading.
At 20 schools across Oxfordshire, all pupils made the grade in both subjects – including St Nicholas Primary School, East Challow, which last year failed to meet Government floor targets with only less than half pupils achieving Level 4s in both subjects.
Overall, 141 county schools posted a higher proportion of children achieving Level 4 in both English and maths, while 64 saw a drop.
Schools where less than 60 per cent of pupils achieve Level 4 in both subjects and where the proportion of pupils making expected progress in English and maths falls below the national average are likely to be forced to convert to academy status.
In Oxfordshire this applies to only two schools – St Joseph’s, Carterton, which had so few pupils taking the tests its results will be discounted, and Bayard’s Hill, Barton.
Last year it applied to 18 Oxfordshire schools, including Windale Primary School in Oxford.
A ten percentage point rise means the Blackbird Leys school has gone from just 43 per cent making the grade in 2010 to 68 per cent this year.
WHEN Lisa Biggin took over as headteacher at John Henry Newman School in September 11, it had posted results well below Government floor targets and was in special measures.
Now the school has converted to an academy, was judged satisfactory with good features by Ofsted, and is the most improved city school – and the fifth most improved in Oxfordshire.
The proportion of children achieving Level 4 in both English and maths jumped from just 37 per cent in 2011 to 79 per cent last summer – a rise of 42 percentage points.
Mrs Biggin said: “We were significantly below the floor standards – now we are significantly above.
“It has been a whole cultural change of the school and I think it is down to the very significant proportion of good and outstanding teaching. It’s indicative of our continual strive for improvement in standards in learning and teaching and also down to support from parents and the community, which have been fantastic.”
CUMNOR Primary School was one of the 20 schools where all children got a clean sweep of Level 4s.
That is a 35 percentage point increase on last year’s results. The school is in special measures and is consulting on converting to become an academy.
Acting headteachers Pauline Roberts and Rob Shadbolt said they were delighted by the news.
Mrs Roberts said: “We have known the results for a long while and we were expecting the pupils to get better results than last year. Changes in staff after the previous year’s results in 2011 mean we now have very strong teachers in Year 5 and 6 with high expectations.”
Mr Shadbolt added: “The recent improvements that all the leaders in the school have put in place have really allowed teachers to focus on what is really important and have high aspirations of young people who really are achieving very high standards now.”