School performance and quality highlighted to Hertfordshire councillors
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CHILDREN in Hertfordshire schools are continuing to achieve results better than the national average, according to data.
But there are concerns about the gap in performance between disadvantaged children in the county and their ‘non-disadvantaged’ peers.
The standards and quality of Hertfordshire schools were put under the spotlight at a meeting of the county council’s education, libraries and lifelong learning cabinet panel on Monday (February 5).
And councillors were presented with a report including data from Ofsted inspections, test and examination results.
According to that report, as of November (2023), 91 per cent of all schools in the county have been judged to be good or outstanding – compared to 89.4 nationally.
And that’s the first time more than 90 per cent of all Hertfordshire secondary schools had been judged to be good or outstanding.
Across Hertfordshire secondary schools last year, it was reported that the average ‘attainment 8’ score – that’s the average achievement of pupils in up to eight qualifications – was 51 per cent.
That’s higher, according to the report, than the national average of 46.3 – ranking the authority 21st in the country.
Meanwhile, the data shows that at A level, or the qualification equivalent, the average point score per examination entry in the county was 35.9, which is equivalent to a B-.
Nationally, councillors were told that the average was 34.5 points, equivalent to a C+ – placing Hertfordshire 31st out of all authorities nationally.
At primary school level, the data shows that 61.3 per cent of children achieved the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics at the end of Key Stage Two.
That’s 1.5 per cent above the national average of 59.8 per cent. But it’s only enough to place the authority within the third quintile – that’s equivalent to the top 60 per cent.
For younger primary school pupils at the end of Key Stage One, the proportion of pupils achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics was above the national average by 1.2, 0.8 and 0.3 per cent respectively.
But that performance was only enough to rank the authority in the third quintile – or the top 60 per cent.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Mark Watkin called the report “strangely confusing”, and suggested, based on the ‘generally prosperous’ profile of the authority and its population, he would have expected it to rank above the third quintile.
The report does highlight the attainment gap ‘between disadvantaged pupils and their non disadvantaged peers’ in the county which it says ‘continues to be an area of concern’.
At the meeting, officers from Herts for Learning – which is funded by schools – suggested there was still ‘a real problem’ in reducing the gap for vulnerable pupils.
But they said the gap was exacerbated by good performance of our pupils overall, with a high percentage performing above average.
Labour Cllr Baroness Taylor referenced areas such as her own division in Stevenage where one in three children live in poverty.
She said lower results at primary school would be life-limiting and ambition-limiting.
“We have to try harder to get this right,” she said.