This week is always a really tense one for students waiting for their GCSE results. We also forget that it's a tense time for teachers too because they care so much for the young people they champion, mentor, and inspire to great things.
Well this year there's a lot for us in Brighton and Hove to celebrate. Our young people have done us proud. Across the country results fell by 2% but here they increased by 2%.
Congratulations to everyone who got what they had hoped for. To those who didn't please don't worry or panic, just speak to your teachers and parents and be prepared to put in the work it takes to achieve the things you hope for. I know this more than most because I had to return to secondary school at the age of 25 so that I could get the qualifications I needed to achieve my goals. So believe me...it's worth it!!
There's a big policy lesson from this year's results if only government were interested in learning them. In areas where the focus was fully on investment in teaching and learning results went up. Where the efforts were on purely organisation and structural reform in places where there are no structural problems, results fell.
In the last year I have spoken numerous times against forced and universal acadamisation. The government's demented and relentless focus on this has meant they have ignored the evidence on what actually leads to school improvement. The result...nationwide results have fallen back to where they were in 2008.
So what is the government's answer? More grammar schools. I utterly despair.
I am chair of governors of a local academy, so I am not against using academies in isolated places where a change of governance is needed to break the deadlock on improvement. This works in some cases but absolutely not in every case. Yesterday the academy I play a small role in increased its exam results by a staggering 21% in one year, and this is a school with 60% of its students on Pupil Premium. It is a beacon of opportunity and social mobility and I am so proud of the students there that words cannot describe. They, the staff, the leadership team and the educational foundation sponsoring it have done our city proud.
Now compare this to grammar schools. In grammar schools in Kent an insulting 2.8% of students come from under-privileged backgrounds. Grammar schools do not increase social mobility, they entrench it. I did a TV debate with a Tory MP last night who said that more grammar schools would increase choice to parents. This is wrong. Grammar schools give choice to schools over which students *they* choose, not to parents. I will stand stridently against any expansion in grammar schools and I will go further and make sure existing legislation that applies to LA and academy schools is extended to grammars.
Well done again to every student and teacher who worked to so hard. You have done yourselves proud but I hope you know how much love there is for you across our whole city too.
As you can see I'm back from holiday, I had a gorgeous break and I'm feeling very refreshed. Please feel free to thank me for bringing some nice weather home with me!! All the best, Peter