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Hartsdown Academy in Margate: chief executive Paul Luxmoore criticises Government over GCSE and Progress 8 league tables

An executive headteacher has staunchly defended a Margate school after it was ranked the worst in Kent based on GCSE results.

Figures released from the Department of Education reveal Hartsdown Academy recorded low scores using a new Government benchmark.

The Attainment 8 score measures the achievement of a pupil across eight different subjects with the school recording 23.3, the national average is 46.4.

Hartsdown Academy, Margate. Picture: Chris Davey
Hartsdown Academy, Margate. Picture: Chris Davey

But Paul Luxmoore, executive headteacher at Coastal Academies Trust, says the Government league tables are "deeply flawed" and "unintelligent."

In a scathing attack he argued the system took no account of pupil intake.

He said: "Hartsdown Academy improved its results significantly this year. Obviously a school's exam grades will, to a large extent, reflect the ability of students.

"Selective schools will have a higher Attainment 8 score than non selective schools. Rating schools as being good or bad on their attainment, without taking any account of the student intake, is patently ridiculous and, frankly, unintelligent - and always has been."

Paul Luxmoore has defended Hartsdown Academy
Paul Luxmoore has defended Hartsdown Academy

Another benchmark introduced to rate performance is Progress 8. This score measures how pupils have improved during secondary school, compared to other pupils who were at the same level when they finished primary school. It is the difference between the average KS2 test score results for pupils and their individual Attainment 8 score recorded at the end of school.

The school, located on George V Avenue, celebrated a marked improvement but again Mr Luxmoore says the system needs to be improved. He said: "I regret that this too (Progress 8) is flawed in many ways - one being that in non selective schools a proportion of students are not capable of taking eight subjects and this penalises the entire school.

"Nevertheless, Hartsdown's Progress 8 score improved from -1.53 in 2017 to -1.18 in 2018. This 0.35 rise is a bigger improvement than just about any other school in the south east - only beaten by Royal Harbour Academy, which improved by 0.54."

It comes as new proposals for Ofsted's inspection framework promises to focus on a school's curriculum rather than exam results.

After Hartsdown was inspected in March it was found to "require improvement." But Mr Luxmoore says this was due to the Government benchmarks rather than the quality of teaching.

He explained: "Inevitably they found the school to 'require improvement' because of its Progress 8 score (but not 'inadequate') - but they also found that leadership was 'good' - because they recognised the excellent work by the Head, his staff and Coastal Academies Trust to improve the school. Their judgement was justified by the subsequent significant improvement in the summer exams."

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