Caution urged over Wakefield's 2021 GCSE results despite hint of slight improvement

Wakefield's GCSE results for the last academic year have suggested a slight improvement from before the pandemic.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 4:47 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th November 2021, 4:48 pm

The district's Attainment 8 score - a complex formula used by number crunchers to sum up how well a pupil performed across all subjects - was only slightly below the national average for 2021.

And Wakefield was ranked joint 83rd out of 151 local authorities, a small jump from 90th two years ago. They were also ranked second out of the five West Yorkshire authorities.

Just over half of all pupils got good grades in their maths and English GCSEs.

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Students received predicted grades from their teachers this year, with exams cancelled because of the pandemic.

However, a senior education official cautioned against reading too much into the figures, given the overwhelming disruption students suffered because of the pandemic.

Pupils were given the grades their teachers had predicted for them, with exams abandoned and the government ditching its infamous algorithm which it had originally used for results in 2020.

Speaking at a meeting of local school leaders on Thursday, Andy Lancashire, Wakefield Council's service director for education and inclusion, said: "We can't compare these results with anything else.

"2020 and 2021 are complete outliers, in terms of making a comparison and looking at the progress of young people.

"I don't think there's much merit in us having a conversation comparing these results to our regional neighbours.

"But what it has done is enable these young people to move on to the next part of their education journey."

Mr Lancashire said that pupils are expected to sit exams again in 2022, but added that he hoped the fact they themselves have spent long periods out of school would be "reflected".

A report published this week said that school attendance in Wakefield secondaries fell "well below" 90 per cent in October, because of Covid.

And he praised local headteachers for their efforts in ensuring full-time education continued during lockdown.

He added: "We know that case rates continues to cause issues. Schools are dealing with staff absence on a regular basis.

"It's to their credit that they've continued to work in the way that they have.

"They ensured that vulnerable young people were in school and that other pupils had remote access.

"We know schools wouldn't have been able to compensate for the full-time face-to-face education which we know lifts everybody. People are loving having their kids back in the classroom."

Local Democracy Reporting Service