Half of all GCSE maths students in Portsmouth under-performing

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THE number of GCSE students in Portsmouth making the expected progress in maths is the sixth worst in the country, according to figures released by the Department for Education.

Just 52.3 per cent of boys and girls who sat the exams earlier this year had made good progress in maths, compared with 69.6 per cent in Hampshire and 65.7 per cent nationally.

The measure of expected progress is built on the principle that 11-year-old pupils achieving a level four in maths should be expected to achieve at least a C grade at GCSE in that subject.

However this year, the progress rates in Portsmouth dropped from 53.6 per cent in 2010 after years of slow but steady improvement.

This news follows the appointment by Portsmouth City Council of £50,000-a-year maths tsar Barbara Rodgers in January to raise standards.

Julian Wooster, director of children’s services, said: ‘We didn’t make as much progress as we had hoped and we are working hard to address that. But it is still early days for the head of maths who hasn’t had much time to make a difference.’

The gap is also widening for Portsmouth’s GCSE results which are now trailing behind the national average by 13 per cent.

Overall pass rates for the ‘gold standard’ of five A* to C GCSEs with English and maths came to 45.1 per cent compared with 60.2 per cent in Hampshire and 58.3 per cent across the country.

Mr Wooster said a handful of schools had let the side down, but highlighted seven strong performers including Springfield and King Richard schools.

Mike Smith, chairman of the city’s secondary school leaders and head of City Boys, celebrated a 50 per cent ‘gold standard’ pass rate this year with 61 per cent of boys achieving A* to C in maths.

He said: ‘The city’s maths results are disappointing but it doesn’t mean the situation is bleak.

‘We have to improve the quality of maths teaching which is part of what the director of maths is doing.

‘We already have some fantastic maths teachers.’

The controversial new English Baccalaureate for five good GCSEs in specific academic subjects returned low results nationwide.

In Portsmouth, 9.3 per cent won the award, in Hampshire 17.9 per cent achieved it, and nationally the pass rate was 16.5 per cent.