Devon schools achieving well

Posted on: 11 January 2016

Devon is one of the top shire counties in the country for the number of schools judged to be good or better.

A new report by Devon County Council’s Head of Education and Learning, Sue Clarke, reveals 88 per cent of Devon schools are now judged good or outstanding by Ofsted.

That compares with 84 per cent nationally and places Devon second out of all the shire counties around the country.

Mrs Clarke presented a report on the performance of education in Devon to councillors at the start of 2016. Her report card concluded: “Devon schools are doing very well but there is always room for improvement – particularly for older students.”

Mrs Clarke told the People scrutiny committee that 71.6 per cent of children in the Early Years and Foundation Stage (EYFS) are attaining a good level of development compared with 66.3 per cent nationally. That ranks Devon 20th out of 150 local authorities.

Children in EYFS have consistently achieved well with an increase of eight per cent over the past three years, she said.

At the end of Key Stage 1, when children reach seven, 92 per cent are achieving the expected Level 2 or higher in reading, 90 per cent in writing and 94 per cent in maths. The results of all three subjects are higher than the national average and rank Devon in the top 20 local authorities.

In the Key Stage 2 national SATs tests, which children sit at 11-years-old, 82 per cent achieved the expected Level 4 or above in reading, writing and maths in Devon – two points higher than the national average and five points up on the Devon figure in 2013.

At GCSE, Devon students have consistently attained at or above the national average for five or more subjects at A*-C, including English and maths.

In 2015 the figure was 57 per cent which surpassed the national average of 56 per cent.

Mrs Clarke told councillors:

“The county council’s strategy for school improvement has resulted in year-on-year improvement across all key stages and sectors and is supporting our ambition to be in the top 10 per cent of all local authorities.

“Comparative performance in Key Stages 1 and 2 places Devon in the top third of the country nationally whilst at Key Stage 4, performance is in the top half of all local authorities.

“The focus for 2015-16 has therefore been improving performance at secondary level and to close gaps in attainment between disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils and their peers.”

She said the level of support and challenge to secondary schools had been increased.

“All workstreams now have a secondary focus which will continue through 2016/17,” she said.

Mrs Clarke told councillors that gaps in performance for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds were evident at the early stages in a child’s school life.”

When children started school in Devon there was a gap in development of 21 per cent between disadvantaged children and their peers.

Pupil premium is paid to schools to help children whose families are entitled to free school meals, who are in care, who have a statement of special educational needs or move around a lot because their families are in the Services.

Mrs Clarke said: “Targeted support for schools has resulted in an upturn in the performance of pupils in receipt of pupil premium and those with special educational needs who are achieving higher levels of attainment than similar pupils nationally.”

The gap between disadvantaged children and their peers in primary schools was now 15 per cent and reducing – down from 21 per cent in 2013.

At all Key Stages, the gaps were in line with national averages and often better, said Mrs Clarke.

“However the gaps in performance at Key Stage 4 vary considerably across schools and also from year to year,” she added.

Intensive work was now under way with maintained schools with the biggest gaps, she said.

“Meeting the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged students continues to be both a national and county priority,” said Mrs Clarke.

“The success of the work in Early Years and primary settings is to be celebrated whilst at the same time making sure this is sustained and built upon.”

Posted in: DCC Homepage | Education