A primary school on the verge of closure three years ago has been named as the second most improved in the country.
Ash Grove on the Moss Estate, Macclesfield, hit ‘rock bottom’ in 2008 and was set to be closed, but it won an 11th-hour reprieve after a campaign by parents.
They were given three years to make significant changes by the former Cheshire County Council.
Now, the latest figures released by the Department of Education show the school is the most improved in both Cheshire and the north of England, and it has completed the second-best turnaround in the country.
The figures measure the percentage of Year 6 pupils reaching the expected level in Maths and English in 2009 compared with 2011.
Performance at Ash Grove improved by a staggering 77 per cent.
The school has now shot into the top 50 schools in Cheshire East in league tables and is among the best performing schools in Macclesfield.
The teaching staff has changed completely since head Kevin Simpson arrived in September 2009.
He said: “We expected to improve, but not by this amount.
“This has been an amazing time in the school’s 75-year history and facilitating the many changes necessary has only been possible with the unstinting dedication of staff and the governors.
“Schools like this are very important for the local community and we now have a school that we, the children and their families are immensely proud of.”
To improve poor attendance teachers started a ‘walking bus’ to school and a breakfast club.
Sue Bowen, head of governors, said: “The achievements of the teaching team are quite remarkable.
“However, while these results are grabbing the headlines, the school is about much more than that – the whole culture has changed.
“Ash Grove is now a happy place, where children learn effectively and develop in every aspect.”
Pupils are at top of the class with great results
Once again Macclesfield high schools have outperformed the nation in the secondary school league tables, with Poynton High School ranked the best state school in Cheshire East.
Following new guidance from the government, all schools are ranked according to numbers attaining the ‘English Baccalaureate’ – A*-C passes in English and maths GCSEs, along with a science, language and either history or geography.
Almost 30pc of students in Macclesfield achieved this level, compared with a national average of 17.6pc.
Sue Adamson, headteacher at Poynton, where 33pc of students made the grade, said a traditional curriculum has enabled students to get the English Bacc.
She said: “We were delighted with our results. There is a danger with the English Bacc that it excludes some students with strengths in other areas, so it’s important not to push students into doing them.”
Independent school King’s was the best performing school in Macclesfield, with 66pc of its students achieving the English Bacc.
More than 68pc of the town’s pupils attained the traditional benchmark of five GCSEs graded A*-C, including maths and English, compared with the national average of 59pc.
Peter Rubery, principal of Fallibroome Academy, where 29pc of pupils attained the English Bacc, said: “School league tables present a partial picture of school performance. Of equal importance are the opportunities for our young people to develop the skills and qualities they will need to contribute to life in the 21st century.”
Tony Billings, head of All Hallows Catholic College, where 14pc of children achieved the English Bacc, said: “We are equally interested in what the tables don’t describe – providing an education for the ‘whole person’.”
Tytherington High School was the only school in Macclesfield which improved on last year’s results, with 62pc of children achieving five A*-C compared with 50pc last year and 30pc achieving the English Bacc.
Kevin Harrison, headteacher, said: “Tytherington was delighted with its best ever performance in the summer examinations in 2011. We are pleased to be at the forefront of the most recent developments in schools.”
Macclesfield High School, which reopened as an academy in September, was the second-worst performing school in Cheshire East, with just 7pc gaining the English Bacc.
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