A West Norfolk MP has backed the borough’s schools to bounce back following a mixed set of GCSE results last week.
Several schools saw a fall in the proportion of students achieving the government’s “gold standard” of five A* to C grades, including English and maths, when the results were published on Thursday.
That triggered claims from school leaders and teaching unions that the results did not reflect the work put in by students and staff, because of government-imposed reforms.
But North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham, while admitting there had been a “toughening up” of the exams as part of a drive to raise standards, said: “I’m reasonably optimistic with the new system, Our schools will perform to their potential.”
Across Norfolk as a whole, the proportion of students getting five good grades with English and maths remained unchanged at 54 per cent.
Of the 12 schools in this area, nine experienced a fall in that statistic this year.
The biggest fall, of 15 per centage points to 40 per cent, was recorded at Marshland High School in West Walton, while the lowest overall gold standard pass rate was the 32 per cent recorded at the King Edward VII School in Lynn.
County education officials put much of the blame for the falls on reforms to both the exam system and school league tables, which now only count the result of students’ first attempts at a subject.
Mr Bellingham said: “That is inevitable when you move to end-of-course exams. The point to remember is everybody is in the same boat.”
But Brian Conway, chairman of Norfolk Secondary Education Leaders, said: “Several schools have indicated that they will be challenging their grades and some have felt the impact of changes to the exam system.”
James Joyce, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s children’s services committee, said that while there had been “welcome improvements at a time of significant turbulence”, there were still concerns over schools were results remained low.
He said the authority would contact schools with “unacceptably low” performance levels.
n More pictures of GCSE celebratons on pages 24-25