Friday, February 16, 2007

Education in Tyneside

I had a very interesting conversation last night about education in Tyneside. Basically it's pretty common knowledge that Gateshead has much better educational outcomes than Newcastle, but last night somebody I know argued that Gateshead played the system a bit. His theory was that Gateshead were good at getting kids GCSEs in a wide array of subjects, such as media studies, etc, but that they weren't so good at making sure the kids get maths and english. I suppose the theory is that if you have maths and english you will do better in the jobs market, and employers do go on about these sorts of things (although I'm not sure I would look so closely at subject areas myself).

Anyhow I downloaded the figures from the DfES website to have a look (available here at table 18). Basically I looked at GCSE attainment at the end of key stage 4 (age 16), and the proportion of kids who get five or more good GCSEs (grade c or above). In short the English average is 59%, and in the North East this is 57% (which I think must be a substantial catch-up by the North East in recent years). In Newcastle the figure is 56% and in Gateshead it's 70%.

So that confirms a situation that's pretty common knowledge in the North East, but what of the argument about maths and english. Here the national average for kids getting 5 GCSEs grade C or above, including maths and english, is 46% and in the North East it's 40%. Newcastle's figures are 34% and in Gateshead it's 45%.

So there is some truth that Gateshead's record is a bit less impressive when you take into account maths and english - from being well above the national average they come down to being pretty much at the national average. However, results achieved in Gateshead are still much much better than in Newcastle, despite the similar socio-economic background of both authority areas. Which brings me back to the question I was floating in the first place - why is it that Gateshead has such better outcomes than Newcastle? As it can't be explained simply by socio-economic background, it must be something to do with what the council, the schools and the teachers are doing. Which I find encouraging at a time when people seem to assume that local government can't make a difference to people's lives in their areas.

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At 5:35 pm, Anonymous Gazza said...

either way they seem to be quite good at alliteration

At 5:38 pm, Anonymous the real gazza said...

What's tha supposed te be. Yee idiot. This is the reet way te dee it.


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