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Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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School attendance ‘lower than average’

Pupil attendance at a Congleton high school is lower than both the average for its parent academy trust and the national average.

That is according to the Fallibroome Trust, whose annual report said the overall attendance for pupils in years to 11 was very good for Fallibroome Academy at Macclesfield but below national and regional averages at Eaton Bank Academy, Congleton, and Winsford Academy, both part of the trust.

The attendance of vulnerable groups such as pupil premium and special needs were also below national and regional benchmarks, the report said.

“Persistent absence rates for all pupils and for vulnerable pupil groups at Eaton Bank and Winsford were all higher than national and regional benchmarks,” it added, although it said that both Eaton Bank and Fallibroome Academy had suspension rates below the national average while Fallibroome Academy suspended a higher proportion of disadvantaged pupils than the national average.

The data will be “scrutinised and carefully monitored” in 2023/24, said the report.
The trust – which has a budget of £35m – operates seven primary and three secondary academies in Cheshire. Its academies have a combined pupil capacity of 5,477 and had a roll of 5,187 in summer 2023.

The trust, which also includes Gawsworth Primary School, leads the Cheshire and Wirral Science Learning Partnership, under contract from Stem Learning and is a designated Computer Hub, through Stem learning and the National Centre for Computing Education.

In the primaries, the report said pupil numbers were “very stable” with just four fewer pupils than there were in December 2022. There had been a “very small” increase in the number of pupil premium and English as an additional language pupils, but a “significant” increase in special needs pupils, up from 194 in December 2022 to 231 in June 2023, with Gawsworth rising from 29 to 43 pupils.

Only two half-day suspensions were given this year (both at Upton Priory, Macclesfield).

Behaviour incidents were said to be “rare and infrequent”, with two schools recording bullying incidents, two recording ethnic/racist incidents and one alleged sexual harassment incident in 2022-23.

In the classroom, the number of pupils achieving a good level of development was similar to the previous year and above national averages.

The proportion of pupils passing the phonics screening check in year one was “very strong” across the trust (84.4%); early indications suggested that the 2023 national average was around 79%.

The 2023 trust average for passing the phonics check by year two was 95.5% (national was 87%). Reading and maths outcomes at key stage one were said to be positive at Gawsworth, its outcomes in-line with or above provisional national averages.

However, five of the trust’s seven primary schools did not achieve the national average at the expected standard for reading and six did not reach the national average at greater depth.

All seven primary schools have achieved or exceeded the national average for the expected standard or higher in maths and the expected standard or higher in the combined measure.
In the secondary schools, 81% of students achieved A* to C grades at A-level. Students achieved a 99% pass rate at A* to E.

At GCSE, Eaton Bank’s Attainment8 (A8) score was likely to be above the national average for 2023 but lower than in-year predictions suggested.

English outcomes at the school were “strong” and suggested students had made good progress from key stage two although maths results for some students were “disappointing” and likely to be below national average.

Eaton Bank had requested several maths papers be remarked.

Very early indications of Progress8 scores suggested that year 11 students at Eaton Bank had made progress in-line with other pupils nationally.

Fallibroome Academy secured an “excellent” set of GCSE and was the best performing school in Cheshire East on a number of measures.

The 2023 key stage four performance indicators at Winsford Academy were all below average. The overall Attainment8 score was well below predictions and much lower than 2019 results. Analysis of pupil progress by subject indicated that pupils’ performance was on average at least one grade lower than other similar pupils nationally in 12 subjects.

Finances

The report said that during the period ended 31st August 2023 total revenue expenditure of £34.4m was covered by grant funding from the Government together with other resources, grant income totalling £33.5m.

Said the report: “Although five of the 11 cost centres returned an in-year deficit, no school or cost centre was carrying an overall revenue deficit at the end of the year and overall performance compared to budget was favourable.

“Staffing costs during the year were equivalent to approximately 75% of revenue income, an increase of two percentage points on the previous year.

Alternative sources of funding made up 10% of total income.

Trips, visits and other activities made £790,681; £272,003 came from hire of facilities; catering income was £649,124 and after-school income £213,580 contributing to trading activity total of just over £1.2m.

The main general grant from Government was £27m, with universal infant free school meals income of £217,131, a pupil premium of £1.3m, and other grants of £1.4m. Local authority grants were just over £2m.

Wages and salaries for the year were £20.8m, £27.6m when social security and pensions are added.

The trust spent more than £½m on agency staff and £25,892 on staff restructuring costs, a redundancy payment of £13,372 and a severance payment of £12,500.

The average number of people employed by the trust was 775; 298 teachers, 432 administration and support staff and 45 management.

Eaton Bank Academy cost £5.5m to run, with £4.3m going on teaching and support staff, £814,000 on other support staff and £427,000 on supplies. Other costs were £1.2m.

Gawsworth Primary School cost £984,00 in all, £749,000 of this on teaching and support staff, £135,000 on other support staff and £50,000 on supplies. Other costs were £274,000.

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