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Failing school's grades 'now worse'

Results at badly performing college continue slide despite overhaul

By Lindsay Fergus

One of Northern Ireland’s worst performing schools is still failing its 226 pupils two years after a radical overhaul, Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Despite being put into a programme aimed at turning it around exam results at Crumlin Integrated College are worse than they were when it entered the process.

Just 39% of pupils passed five or more GCSEs at grade C or above in the last school year compared to 44% in 2009/10 - which is down from 56% in 2007/08.

It comes after inspectors yesterday published their latest report into the school, which is in formal intervention, describing its quality of education as inadequate.

The school’s debt has also increased from £170,000 to £199,067 according to figures from the North Eastern Education and Library Board.

Other failings highlighted by the damning follow-up inspection include:

  • The percentage of pupils gaining five or more GCSEs at grade A* -C including English and maths has dropped from 25% to 22% - meaning more than three-quarters of students are leaving the school without achieving the minimum qualifications deemed necessary for securing a job
  • Exam results remain below average for similar non-selective schools
  • The areas for improvement outweigh the strengths in the provision

However, the report did highlight a number of positives including that the school has improved one level of performance from unsatisfactory to inadequate, the development of the ethos of integration, the more effective leadership of the school, the positive response of the staff to the many difficult challenges and their hard work to bring about improvement, the quality of the provision in mathematics has improved to satisfactory and the quality of teaching observed in two-thirds of the lessons was deemed to be good or better.

Acting principal Philip Smyth said. “We are convinced that we are on the right road, that we continue to make progress and that there is still some way to go. We are on a five year journey to where we want to be and we are so far just two years into that journey.”

He added: “I want to increase the standards for all pupils. Current strategies are focusing on learning and teaching and providing a curriculum which best meets the needs of all pupils.”

Inspectors have set out a number of areas in need of improvement - to enhance further the quality of teaching and learning, monitoring, for the acting principal and acting vice-principal to develop and sustain the strategic direction of the school and to raise exam standards.

Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education chief executive, Noreen Campbell, added: “NICIE is committed to working with Crumlin Integrated College as it continues on its journey of improvement.”

A further follow-up inspection will be carried out within the next year.



Background

The school transformed to integrated status in 2007 after 75% of parents backed the change. Crumlin Integrated College is a controlled, co-educational and non-selective school catering for pupils aged between 11 and 16. The enrolment has declined from 336 in 2007/08 to 226. It entered into the formal intervention process on February 1, 2010 after a poor inspection the previous month. There are currently 19 schools in formal intervention. Eleven schools have successfully exited the programme.

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