School improvement attracts high praise

Wednesday 19th January 2005 12:00 am

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OKEHAMPTON College was one of four Devon secondary schools highlighted in this year?s Government education tables as being among the most improved in the country. Okehampton was praised along with Ivybridge Community College, Holsworthy Community College and St James High School in Exeter for having shown significant and continuous improvement in their GCSE results from 2001 to 2004. College principal Chris Powell said: ?We are delighted ? we have known for some time what the extent of improvements have been but it?s nice to see it acknowledged by the LEA. ?It?s really down to a number of things ? increased aspirations from our young people and their families and that?s matched by the hard work by our dedicated and talented staff and a lot of parental encouragement.? Overall, Devon schools were among the top third in the country for GCSE performance while in the bottom third for national funding according to Government figures released last week. The figures published by the Department for Education and Skills show Devon was 47th out of 150 local educational authorities for its performance in last year?s GCSE exams. But overall Devon ranks 129th out of the 150 LEAs for the level of funding it attracts from the Government. Devon?s director of education Phil Norrey said: ?I want particularly to congratulate these four schools for maintaining this consistent improvement. ?We always advise people not to judge schools on a single year?s results as these can vary from year to year depending on the varying abilities of the students sitting the exams. ?However, these schools have been doing really well for four years and that demonstrates consistently high performance.? He added: ?I want to congratulate the headteachers and all their staff for this accolade as well as the hundreds of students who have achieved so well over the years thanks to their teachers? guidance and support.? The same figures put Devon 44th nationally for its A-level results last year. Dr Norrey said: ?Whichever measure you choose, our schools are continuing to improve year on year. ?What is also very pleasing is that Devon is showing continuing improvement compared with similar LEAs.? Dr Norrey said the figures demonstrated that students and teachers were ?working extremely hard? and should be congratulated for this consistent improvement and for ?outstripping the national increase over the past two years.? He added: ?They are achieving higher than average results with lower than average resources and that surely proves the quality of education we are offering in Devon.?