A Freedom of Information (FoI) request by the BBC this week led to the publication of school league tables in Wales – and Flintshire has plenty to smile about.
Parents in Flintshire have this week been able to see how their children’s schools compare to others across Wales for the first time in 10 years.
League tables ranking schools according to their GCSE results were abolished in Wales in 2001, but figures released after a Freedom of Information (FoI) request have shown Flintshire as the top county in Wales.
The statistics, based on last years GCSE results, show a ‘value added’ score for each school, which is calculated by comparing the grades predicted for students at the age of 11 with their actual results.
Three Flintshire schools came in the top 10 for Wales.
Connah’s Quay High School came seventh in Wales but headteacher Greg Dixon said the scores had to be taken in context.
He told the Chronicle: “We’re obviously pleased to see we’re very close to the top of the table as it recognises the achievements made at the school.
“But we have got to view the figures in a balanced way. We do take encouragement from it, but publishing league tables in a random way can be quite dangerous.”
Joining Connah’s Quay in the top 10 schools in Wales were Argoed High School in Mynydd Isa, which came fifth, and St David’s High School in Saltney, which was in fourth position.
Headteacher of St David’s Tony Davidson said: “For me this is not about whether we should or should not have league tables. Others can debate that.
“I’ll concentrate my efforts on continuing to ensure our students achieve outstanding examination results and make a better than average progress.”
Simeon Molloy, headteacher at Argoed High, added: “Obviously I am absolutely delighted with the position of Argoed High School in the published tables.
“However, it also gives me great pleasure to see the success that Flintshire secondary schools have had as a whole, and it is a recognition of the great work that goes on across our secondary sector.”
At the other end of the nationwide table was Alun School, Mold, which came off worst in the county, being ranked 189th out of 222 schools.
Headteacher Ashley Jones said: “The performance of schools should be judged against a range of statistics measured over time.
“Just over 12 months ago our school received its best ever inspection report, scoring the top grade in every category.
“Inspectors used data from examination results and trends in performance over a number of years to arrive at this judgement.
“Last summer the high standards recognised by inspectors were maintained at A-level with excellent progression rates to top universities.
“Similarly, at GCSE, the proportion of A* and A grades was well above the national average.”
Flintshire’s overall value added score of 6.19 put it at the top of the 22 local authorities in Wales.
Ian Budd, director of lifelong learning at Flintshire County Council, said: “The positive ‘value added’ position in Flintshire is as a result of the long-standing consistent focus on securing improved pupil outcomes across both schools and the local authority.
“It reflects the hard work and commitment of pupils, staff, governors and all who support them.”
Figures have also been released showing the GCSE pass rate for schools across Wales and grouping them in ‘families’ of schools which have pupils from similar backgrounds.
Connah’s Quay High School came second in its family with 76% of pupils achieving five A*-C grades at GCSE, while Flint High School came eighth in the same family with 54% of pupils coming in that category.
Hawarden High School came eighth in its family – but 17th in the country for its value added score.
Headteacher Roger Davies said: “The positive value added data confirms that our students are exceeding expectations and performing significantly above the average.
“We are also placed within the top 8% of schools throughout Wales for this measure. This backs up our analysis of the raw data relating to last year’s exam results, which indicated more than 80% of our Year 11 pupils achieved five or more A*-C grades at GCSE – comfortably the best results in our history.”
The Chronicle contacted all high schools in Flintshire for a comment on the figures, but the majority had not responded by the time we went to press yesterday (Wednesday).