RESULTS published today show schools in Oxfordshire are doing better than their counterparts in England when it comes to GCSEs.
The Department for Education has released figures which showed 60.6 per cent of Oxfordshire pupils taking their exams at the end of Year 11 in 2013 got five A* to C grades, including English and maths.
The national average for the same benchmark is 59.2 per cent.
And it is the best the county has done yet – marking an almost three per centage point increase on the previous year.
Last year, county councillor Melinda Tilley, who is cabinet member for education, said it would take longer than a year for results to improve.
But she does not want to rest on her laurels – and is encouraging schools to target even higher results.
Mrs Tilley said: “We are very chuffed to meet the 60 per cent rate. Now we can set a target for 70 per cent.
“If you get good results I don’t think you should be complacent – you should strive for even better.
“I am always pleased by how our schools are doing and surprised at the same time and, of course, cautious.
“But I am optimistic that we are on the right track now.”
The best performing state school in the county, for the second year running, was Wallingford School in St George’s Road, again getting 76 per cent of its pupils to meet the five A*-C grades with English and maths benchmark.
Headteacher Wyll Willis said: “A few years ago we had a bad year and we didn’t like the way that felt at all, so we decided to make it a real focus.
“Last year we were a top school but this year we seem to have done a terrific job.
“There was an acceptance on the part of the staff that our kids deserve to be at the top – I cannot help but feel very proud.”
Cheney School, in Headington, Oxford, was one of the schools seeing a big improvement in its results this year.
In 2012, 48 per cent of pupils achieved the five A*-C grades with English and maths benchmark, and the 2013 results make the school one of the highest movers with 63 per cent achieving the benchmark and beating the county and national average.
Headteacher Jolie Kirby said: “We have really high expectations for our students and that has paid off.”
At Henry Box, where results have jumped 20 percentage points, to 44 per cent for five A*-C grades with English and maths, headteacher Wendy Hemmingsley said: “In 2013 The Henry Box School achieved its best-ever GCSE results.
Henry Box headteacher Wendy Hemmingsley
“This was down to the determination and hard work of both students and staff.
“It’s hard to single out the one particular strategy that made the most difference but it is safe to say that Year 11 mentoring, intervention events with families, small group tuition, revision lessons, close tracking of progress and sheer hard work all culminated in fantastic achievement.”
In the 2012 GCSE results, 57.9 per cent of pupils in the county reached the benchmark of five A* to C grades, including English and maths.