Everywhere you look in Salford a shiny new high school has sprung up. But beyond the glitzy facades, education standards in the city are not improving and are below, not only national standards but also the standards of what they call 'statistical neighbours', local authorities with similar demographics like Liverpool, Gateshead, Tameside and Leeds.
A report on 2016 education statistics being discussed by councillors today shows that pupils at the city's primary schools continue to do well. At Key Stage 1 (age 5-7), what they call the 'expected standard' of Reading, Writing and Maths combined is 2% above the national average, at 62%, which puts Salford fourth best in the North West. At Key Stage 2 (age 7-11), young learners are 4% above the national average on 57%, but at high school the results plummet.
Last year, new complicated measures were put in place for Key Stage 4 (age 14-16) - Attainment 8 and Progress 8* which make comparisons with previous years impossible. However the report states "For all the new assessment measures, Salford results are below the national averages for state funded schools in England".
The percentage of pupils achieving A*-C in English and Maths GCSE was 53.2%, almost 10% below the national average of 62.8%. The percentage of pupils getting five GCSEs including English and Maths was 47.9%, over 9% behind the national average of 57%, compared to 3% behind in 2010.
On Attainment 8, Salford was tenth worst in the North West, and on Progress 8 Salford was eleventh worst (out of 39 authorities).
The report also shows that social class is still a huge factor in educational achievement within the city. What it calls 'Disadvantaged pupils (who are entitled to free school meals or are looked after children)' score -0.56 on Progress 8 per pupil, compared to -0.13 for other pupils. They also score 39.9 on Attainment 8, compared to 51.1 for other pupils.
"Disadvantaged pupils do less well than other pupils in the schools in the majority of these measures" states the report. However, it adds that "there are some notable exceptions where the disadvantaged pupils in certain schools have benefitted from well-targeted and effective interventions, particularly in English and maths, funded by the pupil premium grant".
The gender gap is also prevalent, as girls achieved a higher Progress 8 score than boys in ten schools and a higher Attainment 8 measure in twelve schools.
At Key Stage 5, or A Level standard, only 7.5% of Salford learners achieve high grades (AAB or higher), while 81.6% attain at Level 2, below the national average (85.3%) and below the statistical neighbour average. 52.8% achieve Level 3, below the national average of (57.1%) but above the statistical neighbour average.
As more and more Salford schools opt out of local authority control to become academies - with Irlam and Cadishead College the latest, to join Salford Academy Trust the report shows that it doesn't seem to make any difference to educational achievement overall in the city.
Tory Government education policy has failed and with more education cuts to come it can only get worse...
See also previous Salford Star articles...
Salford Schools To Get Huge Cuts By Tory Government click here
Salford Schools With Poorest Pupils Hit Hardest By Tory Education Cuts click here
* Progress 8, states the report, 'aims to capture the progress a pupil makes from the end of primary school to the end of secondary school. The pupils' results are compared to the actual achievements of other pupils with the same prior attainment in order to calculate a school's Progress 8 score. The greater the Progress 8 score, the greater the progress made by the pupil compared to the average of pupils with similar prior attainment.
'Attainment 8 will measure the achievement of a pupil across 8 qualifications including maths and English (both of which are double weighted), 3 subjects that count in the English Baccalaureate and a further 3 qualifications that can be GCSE qualifications or any other non-GCSE qualifications that are on the DfE approved list'.