William Eichler 13 April 2016

Council criticised for ‘shocking fall’ in exam results

A council has been criticised for a ‘shocking fall’ in the GCSE results of pupils on free school meals.

Ofsted have written to Reading Borough Council urging them to do more to improve exam results, particularly for children receiving free school meals (FSM).

The percentage of pupils achieving 5 or more GCSEs at grade A* to C fell from 59.3% in 2014, to 57.5% in 2015.

The inspectorate’s letter, however, emphasises the more worrying news came from what they describe as the ‘shocking fall’ in the GCSE performance of pupils eligible for FSM.

In 2014, 30.7% of FSM pupils achieved 5 GCSEs at grades A* to C including English and mathematics. This figure dropped to 23.8% in 2015.

Bradley Simmons, Ofsted Regional Director for the South East, explained that FSM pupils in Reading get the worst GCSE results in the south east. He also warned of growing inequalities.

‘Reading’s results show a wide and worsening gap between the achievement of these pupils and their more advantaged peers, both locally and nationally,’ he said.

‘Local authorities have a responsibility to champion their most vulnerable pupils. That is why I am calling on Reading Borough Council to explain what they are doing to address this serious situation.’

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