Revealed: Welwyn Hatfield’s highest achieving schools


- Credit: Archant

Fresh government figures have revealed how well Welwyn Hatfield and Potters Bar secondary schools have performed in the last year.

Results day at Sir Frederic Osborn School. Picture: Danny Loo

Results day at Sir Frederic Osborn School. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

But the way in which school progress and achievement is measured has also had an overhaul.

In 2016, a new way of seeing how schools measure up was introduced.

And in 2017, there was also a new set of GCSE exams with a brand new grading system based on the numbers 9-1 rather than the old A-G grade.

The government’s schools performance statistics now grade schools on several measures.

Rather than just totting up GCSE passes, the new ranking system allows you to look at more than one factor when rating a school.

This includes the ‘Progress 8’ and the ‘Attainment 8’ measures as well as showing how many pupils go on to further education or employent after GCSE.

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Progress 8 and Attainment 8 - what do they show?

Progress 8 is a measure of eight key subjects that shows how much progress pupils have made between the end of key stage 2 and the end of key stage 4.

It measures this by comparing pupils across England who had similar scores at key stage 2.

It means that a school can still show the difference it makes at helping kids realise their potential, even in subjects they are weaker in.

It’s measured on a scale of 1 to minus 1, with a score of 1 showing the highest progress.

Dame Alice Owen’s School continued its reputation for excellence with a score that the Department for Education considers “well above average”, 0.63 – putting it in eighth place out of 147 schools in the whole of Hertfordshire.

Scoring highly was Bishop’s Hatfield Girls’ School, whose “Progress 8” score was marked as “above average” at 0.27.

Stanborough School’s -0.3 score is considered “below average”, Onslow St Audrey’s School score of -0.89 is “well below average”.

Onslow St Audrey’s School’s head teacher was unavailable for comment.

Sir Frederic Osborn School’s score was also “well below average” at -0.71.

Sir Frederic Osborn headteacher Jed Whelan said: “As with all statistics we need to be clear about the comparisons we are making. Girls have outperformed boys this year across the country in terms of the Progress 8 measure, and as a school with 20% more boys in that year group this has to be factored in.

He added that the school’s attainment in maths and English has improved.

To help the Progress 8 score in future, the school is working closely with Sandringham School in St Albans, which just achieved the highest Progress 8 score in the county.

“We are working hard to ensure all our current students achieve their potential,” said Mr Whelan.

The Attainment 8 score is based on pupils’ attainment across 8 key qualifications, averaged across the school.

Dame Alice Owen’s School scored 70.6, making it the top school in Hertfordshire for Attainment 8.

Bishops’s Hatfield Girls’ School scored 51.3, with Chancellor’s, Monk’s Walk, Mount Grace and Stanborough all in the high 40s.

Sir Frederic Osborn School scored 36.5 and Onslow St Audrey’s School scored 34.3.

What about the new GCSEs?

The old letters-based grading system has been replaced by the numbers 9-1 for maths and English, to go with the new exams which the government describes as having “more challenging” content.

This new system will also be rolled out to the other subjects in due course.

It’s not easy to make a direct comparison as the old and new grades don’t all have equivalents.

An A*-A grade is now in the band of grades 9, 8 and 7 – the very top grade of 9 will be awarded to fewer pupils than were receiving A*s before.

Most further education institutions are using a grade 4 as their standard entrance requirement grade in the same way that a C was used in the past.

A grade 4 is considered a standard pass – or directly equivalent to an old C grade – and a grade 5 is considered a “strong” pass.

For the latest school league tables, the numbers of pupils gaining grade 5 or above in English and maths is a key measure.

Here, Dame Alice Owen’s School comes out top again, at 83%, while Onslow St Audrey’s achieved 20%.

However, the future is still bright for Onslow St Audrey’s pupils, as the figures reveal that 95% of them go on to further education or employment - putting the school in joint fifth place out of 147 in the whole county for that measure in 2015.