August can be a nerve wracking month. GCSE and A level results are a final verdict on the work of pupils, schools, and parents.
How well I remember the nervousness of the parent as the day approaches. Eight years ago students were not getting the results they needed – shockingly only 28 per cent of students in Hastings were achieving five A*-C grades which included English and Maths at GCSE. Now that figure is 48 per cent. Schools have been working hard to close the gap with the national and East Sussex average.
The top school this year is St Leonards Academy which achieved 53 per cent of its pupils receiving five or more A*-C grade GCSEs (including English and maths). Even with the introduction of a more rigorous exam scheme, they have continued to improve each year.
It is vital that our schools and teachers enable pupils to achieve the results they deserve. Education should open up doors for young people, allow them to develop their own talents and give them the skills they need to succeed. So the improvements in standards need to be made right from the very beginning of the process; we need to focus just as much on our primary schools as on our secondaries.
Changes are already being made, there are now four primary academies delivering a better education, and 20 schools have already been rated Good or Outstanding, nearly double the number there were four years ago.
Businesses I talk to have the same message: they have jobs to offer but they need people with the right skills. The way to the full employment we want is to ensure better education to prepare our young people for successful lives.