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Ballard School GCSE results – Summer 2017

August 29, 2017
Ballard GCSE results group shot

Ballard GCSEs – Summer 2017

A stunning year with Ballard remaining at the forefront of non-selective schools and our best for 5 years

There has been much Press comment, as ever, about the GCSE results and the ‘league tables’. This year, 2017, the talk has been about the overall fall in ‘pass grades’ (A*-C and 9-1 in English and Maths). For the first time reformed GCSEs have been sat across all subjects although only English and Maths have been given the new, numbered, grading system. I am delighted to say that Ballard has ‘bucked the trend’ and this year we have seen a significant improvement in our results by 4% putting us at 89% for the so-called ‘gold standard’ of at least five passes at A*-C / grades 9-4 (including English and Maths).

Ballard is a relatively small school with around 60-65 pupils in our leaving class of Y11 each year (and there were 62 pupils in the 2017 cohort). This means that it takes only a very few pupils not to achieve the ‘gold standard’ of 5 A* to C grades (9-4 in the new system) and the overall percentage falls. Larger schools, such as the maintained ones, will have several hundred in their exam years and so even with quite a few pupils falling short the percentage overall may still hold up well. This is one of the reasons I dislike league tables! Another is that, sad to say, it is notoriously difficult to trust tables published by the Press in August each year. They depend on schools honestly telling them their results (it’s only in about January that the final and official tables are published), they take no account of re-marks and appeals (in 2015 we submitted 75 EARs – enquiries about results – with 6% resulting in grade changes) and they may also not reflect the actual type of GCSE offered by the school. In recent years some schools have been ‘experimenting’ with IGCSEs (which suffer from less government interference but can be harder) and all of these exams do not appear in official tables. (We do IGCSE English and IGCSE Business Studies.) Most of all I don’t like the tables because they cannot show how well individuals have done. Many of our success stories lie not with those who have excelled in terms of As and A* grades (and many have) but with those who when they arrived here may have had a learning difficulty (or an emotional one) and have overcome the odds to secure several ‘passes’ and some close to a ‘pass’ (reckoned as a C grade or a grade 4 in Maths) – all above the odds. They also don’t show that this year seven of our departments have 100% pass rates and two had only one pupil with a single grade below a ‘C’.

And so what about this year’s results for Ballard?

Ballard GCSE Results 2017

Fantastic results for Ballard GCSEs this year with a five year high.

We have achieved our best results for 5 years (since the GCSE reforms began) and whilst there were the inevitable disappointments there were also stunning and delightfully unexpected triumphs! We have improved our percentages year on year where the ‘gold standard’ (inc. English and Maths are concerned) from 69% in 2013 to 85% in 2016 and now 89% in 2017. In the main we prefer to use a 4 year average for GCSE results as this takes a better account of the relative strengths of year groups which, as I have said, with a relatively small roll such as ours can vary considerably year on year. This will be published as soon as our results are all confirmed.

Ballard GCSE results happy

One very happy pupil collecting her GCSE results in Ballard

Our ‘gold standard’ pass rate of 89% puts us at the forefront of non-selective schools locally with most schools in our part of Hampshire / Dorset showing around 65-75% and Nationally 66%. A summary of our statistics:

  • ‘gold standard’ of at least 5 passes at A*-C grades 89% (with a cohort of 61 pupils)
  • Maths: only two of the 62 scored a grade 3 97% passed with grades 9-4
  • English Lang/Lit: only 4 scored below a C 94% passed English
  • English Language: 44% gained A*/A grades
  • Subjects gaining 100% A*-B Art, Dance, Drama, Exp Arts, Music, Food Tech
  • Additional subjects achieving 100% A*-C Spanish
  • Subjects with only 1 pupil below C grade in French, PE, Geography, Statistics (taken by 54 Y10s)

League tables on the way out

There are no league tables for any Prep School. Some independent schools will use SATs (we don’t and they are on the way out in many schools) but we have changed our internal assessments from CATs (cognitive ability tests) to something called Midyis which is run by Durham University for schools. This, we believe, will give a much better individualised system of tests for pupils leading to GCSE indicators and evidence of ‘value added’. We have a ‘traffic light system’ whereby we can flag up pupils doing well and on or above performance (green) through some concern (amber) and great concern (red).

Ballard, as a family-friendly holistic school, continues to do exceptionally well by its pupils. We are committed to academic rigour, wide opportunities and good manners. This ‘roundedness’, we believe, stands the test of time and creates fine citizens for the future.

Alastair Reid (Headmaster, Ballard School) August 2017

We tweet from @BallardSchool 

Ballard School is an independent, private co-educational school in New Milton, Hampshire, providing an outstanding level of education for nursery to GCSE. With small class sizes and proven academic excellence, we strive to nurture the academic potential of all students. Learn more about our academic programmes, pastoral care, facilities and school ethos by visiting our website or by requesting a prospectus here.


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