18th December 2014
Portslade Aldridge Community Academy Governing Body informed parents in September that an investigation into the registration status of a small number of students at the school was underway. This investigation has now concluded.
The investigation concerned the accuracy of statistical returns provided by the school to the Department for Education (DfE), the Local Authority (the school’s co-sponsor) and the lead sponsor, the Aldridge Foundation. Specifically the investigation looked into the registration of a small number of students as Guests on the school’s data systems.
The DfE guidelines state that “Guest pupils are those who attend an establishment regularly for some lessons, or else on a one-off or short-term basis, but who remain registered elsewhere. A guest registration is in addition to a Single Registration at another school. These pupils do not feature in the Census of the guest school.”
The School Census is a statutory return to the DfE which takes place during the autumn, spring, and summer terms. All schools have to complete every Census. At PACA the Census is the legal responsibility of the Principal as the Accountable Officer.
The investigation revealed that in 2012/13 the registration status of 12 students was altered so that they were registered as Guests. As they were not on the Census return provided by the school to the DfE their exam results were not included in the school’s overall published GCSE results. The investigation further revealed that Guest status should not have been used for these students and that their results should have been included in the school’s overall results for that year.
As soon as the potential issue with the use of Guest status came to light the investigation was launched. This ensured that the published results for 2013/14 were 100% correct.
The investigation also confirmed that this practice had not taken place at the school previous to 2012/13.
The impact of this was that in 2012/13 the school’s benchmark result for the number of students achieving 5 or more passes at A* – C at GCSE, including maths and English, was reported as 60%, when it should have been reported as 55.6%.
This has been reported to the Department for Education. It does not affect PACA’s position in Brighton’s school league tables in that year. Having risen from 38% the previous year, PACA’s corrected rise of 17.6% was still the largest in the City in 2012/13*.
No individual student’s exam results were affected by this, only the overall result for all students reported by the school.
PACA’s Local Authority nominated Governor Rosalind Turner said:
“A thorough investigation has shown that Guest status was wrongly used and that this resulted in overall GCSE results for the school being reported in 2012/13 which were incorrect.”
“The academy has made considerable progress since opening but parents and students rightly expect the highest standards in all areas of school leadership. The Principal as Accountable Officer has a statutory duty to ensure that accurate Census returns are submitted to the DfE and that published information about the school is accurate. The Governors also believe that parents have a fundamental right to have accurate data and information on which to make their decisions about schooling. The Governors have agreed to end the contract of the Principal, Mr. James Fox. He will not be returning to the school.”
“We are very pleased that Peter Marchant, who has been acting as Executive Director since September, will be taking on the role of Interim Principal for the next two terms. We will be recruiting a permanent head to start in September 2015. Peter led the school through the recent Ofsted inspection, in which it was graded good for Leadership and Management. The report noted that ‘All leaders of the academy consistently communicate high expectations and ambition’ and specifically recognised Peter’s contribution.”
“The Governors would like to thank the academy’s parents, students and staff for their support and patience during this period.”
The Foundation has confirmed that Census returns of other Foundation sponsored academies have been verified as accurate and in line with DfE guidance. The Foundation is clear that this has not happened at other Aldridge sponsored schools.