The chart below shows Bristol’s steady year-on-year progress in all measures of GCSE attainment.
Key Stage 4 Pass Rates (Bristol, 2006 – 2010)
The classic measure of attainment at KS4 is the percentage of pupils achieving five or more A*-C grades (including English and Maths). The chart below shows Bristol’s progress over the last six years:
KS4 Five or More GCSEs at Grade A* – C (inc. English & Maths)
Not only have Bristol’s results improved consistently over the period, but the convergence of the four lines shows very clearly that Bristol is narrowing the gap between itself and its statistical neighbours and the core cities. A similar picture emerges when examining the larger cohort of pupils achieving five or more A* – C grades, though for this indicator it is clear that Bristol is ‘catching-up’ even quicker:
KS4 Five or More GCSEs at Grade A* – C
Black and Minority Ethnic Pupils
According to Bristol’s Action Plan to Reduce Inequalities in Education Achievement for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Children and Young People, at all stages non BME pupils outperform BME.
Pupils Achieving 5+ A*-C Grades (including English and maths) at GCSE by ethnicity and gender (2010)
Furthermore, more specifically, black pupils are consistently the worst achieving as the following graph dramatically demonstrates:
KS4 5+ GCSEs at Grade A*-C (incl. English and maths), Bristol
The underachievement by black students is far worse for boys. For example, in 2010, 23.5% of black boys achieved the five or more GCSEs at grade A* – C whereas the corresponding figure for black girls was 36.5%.
Reasons for the underachievement within the BME population are many. According to a February 2009 report into pupil population in Bristol by the Institute of Community Cohesion a key issue is the low numbers of BME teachers, governors, Council staff and Members. Only 4.4% of teachers were BME in March 2008, up slightly from 3.7% in the previous year. Just 1.79% of teachers were Black or Black British with just one Somali. The number of BME governors is also low but improving, up from 94 in 2006/07 to 147 in 2007/08 and 158 in the first quarter of 2008/09. The Council has set an LAA target for increasing the proportion of BME governors.
Given that the most under-performing group of BME pupils is the black or black British, it is worth analysing the gap between this group and white pupils, and it is clear from the next chart that the gap has widened again following a year of narrowing:
Percentage of Candidates passing 5 or more GCSEs (incl. English and maths) by Ethnicity, (Bristol, 2006 – 2010).
Nationally, girls continue to outperform boys in almost all subjects. The gap between the genders has fluctuated slightly over the last six years (positively and negatively), during that period the difference ranged between 8 and 9 percentages points.
National Data: KS4 5 or more A*-C (incl. English and maths)
In Bristol for the cohort of pupils passing 5 or more GCSEs including English and Maths the gap is now 7.2 percentage points (girls passed 48.7%, boys 41.5%). This gap has widened and narrowed alternately since 2005: 6.4, 2.6, 7.7, 4.8 and 7.2.
As GCSE results improve in Bristol, the gap between boys locally and nationally has reduced from 12.5 percentage points in 2006 to 7.3 percentage points in 2010. For girls the gap in 2006 was 15.2 percentage points, reducing to 8.8 at present. There is no significant evidence that either gender is closing the gap faster than the other (see the following graphs).
Gender Gap at KS4 for pupils achieving 5 or more GCSEs at grade A*-C (incl. English and maths)
Analysis of results for those achieving five or more GCSEs without necessarily passing maths and English suggests that both genders are even closer to their national equivalents (Bristol boys are 5.2 percentage points behind the national average for boys, and girls are only 4.6 points behind the national average for girls).
Gender Gap at KS4 for pupils achieving 5 or more GCSEs at grade A*-C
Nationally, it is only in Physics that boys outperform girls. In many subjects girls are significantly stronger (e.g English, with a pass rate of 77% compared to boys at 63%). Even in Mathematics girls are now slightly ahead (65% to 64%).
Looked After Children
Figures are available for educational attainment of those that have been continuously looked after for at least one year. Understandably, Bristol’s Looked After Children do not have the same pass rates as their non-looked after counterparts:
Looked After Children achieving 5 or more A*-C GCSEs (2000 – 2010)
It should be noted that the numbers of looked after children in the Bristol cohort is relatively small (typically in the region of about 50), which may go some way to explaining the variation in pass rates.
Special Educational Needs
The following chart shows that the numbers of pupils with SEN provision sitting GCSE exams has fluctuated with no obvious pattern around an average of 611per year. In 2006 only 5.2% of this cohort passed five or more GCSEs, including Maths and English; this figure improved drastically to 16.8% in 2010. However, they still lag behind those without any SEN provision by a considerable margin; in 2006 39% of those without SEN provision passed five or more GCSEs, including Maths and English, whereas 52.3% achieved the milestone in 2010.
Numbers of GCSE Candidates (SEN and non-SEN, Bristol 2006-2010)
The next chart shows not only the disparity between SEN and non-SEN pass rates, but how a white SEN pupils’ pass rates are more than three times better than their corresponding Asian or Asian British, or Black or Black British counterpart.
Percentage of Candidates Passing 5 or more GCSEs (incl. English and maths), by Ethnicity and SEN (Bristol, 2010).The gap has widened slightly over the period 2006 – 2010 from 33.8 to 35.5 percentage points. At its narrowest (2007) the gap was 31.9 percentage points. The percentage of pupils at this stage that are designated SEN has remained reasonably consistent over the last five years at approximately 20%.
The gap has widened slightly over the period 2006 – 2010 from 33.8 to 35.5 percentage points. At its narrowest (2007) the gap was 31.9 percentage points. The percentage of pupils at this stage that are designated SEN has remained reasonably consistent over the last five years at approximately 20%.
Percentage of Candidates passing 5 or more GCSEs (incl. English and maths), SEN v non-SEN (Bristol, 2006 – 2010)