THOSE reading the recently released primary school league tables may have been surprised to learn that the Gateway Free School has scored significantly less than Manor Primary on a number of key measures.
Only 66% of Gateway children gained the expected level 4 in reading, writing and mathematics compared to 70% at Manor and 72% for Thurrock as a whole.
There are a number of reason why this might be a surprise to many Thurrock residents.
Firstly because Manor has been deemed a failing school and is effectively being taken over by the Gateway, with key stage two forced to move to the free school next year (how else would they fill up that new building we all paid for?).
Secondly because we were told that Gateway had outstanding teachers and children would also benefit from secondary expertise.
Thirdly because the rhetoric from the Gateways’ own expensive publicity machine, enthusiastically echoed by misguided councillors, was all about how the school was going to raise standards for the whole area.
These results are all the more surprising when you find that primary schools who lost children to the Gateway in their final year, after their parents were told this was their only way to get a secondary place, frequently reported losing significant numbers of children who were already functioning at level 4 or 5. What happened?
Is it because the techniques that made Gateway Secondary so apparently successful: early and repeated entry to examinations and modules and entering children for easier so-called “equivalent” diplomas are not available in the primary sector? In primary schools children all sit the same test on the same day and it gets sent away to be marked. Except of course for the new writing assessment which was the teachers’ own appraisal of children’s work through the year and which, surprise, surprise, Gateway did rather better at.