The Mandeville, The Grange and the Aylesbury Vale Academy are where the majority of children in the town will end up – and all of them have been criticised by Ofsted.
In January the education watchdog gave both the Grange and Mandeville ‘requires improvement’ ratings – the former going from ‘good’ and the latter coming out of special measures. The Academy also received the same verdict at its last inspection at the end of 2014.
The percentage of pupils achieving five GCSEs including maths and English at the three schools in 2015 averaged just over 38% (Grange 41%, Academy 38% and Mandeville 36%) – compared to other secondary moderns such as Waddesdon (77%), Cottesloe (67%) and John Colet (62%) and the Bucks average of 68%.
Councillor Zahir Mohammed, education portfolio holder at Bucks County Council, said: “The county council is aware of the performance at these three schools.
“The council is committed to securing improvements in its schools and therefore commissions the Buckinghamshire Learning Trust (BLT) to carry out targeted school improvement activities on its behalf. BCC and the BLT are working with identified schools to provide a range of school improvement support. The impact of this support is closely monitored by schools and external partners and regulatory bodies.”
In the council’s draft budget it suggested that funding for non-statutory school improvement, provided by the BLT could be cut. But Mr Mohammed claimed that each of the three schools is being closely monitored and supported, and are part of an improvement project.
He added: “There is a clear expectation that the schools involved will make progress during this academic year.
“The council continues to support schools and as the National Foundation for Educational Research report recently pointed out, learning is a journey, that contrary to demands, there is no quick fix and what works in one school does not necessarily work in others.”
Aylesbury does of course have outstanding grammar schools – but only 16% of children in the Vale passed their 11+ (the county-wide cohort is 33%), with the percentage believed to be even lower for the town itself.
Mr Mohammed said the grammar school system is as ‘fair as possible’.
He said: “It is our mission to ensure that all children and young people in Bucks can attend a school that is ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ irrespective of the nature or status of that school.
“The secondary transfer process is set by the grammar schools to identify the approximately 33% of the overall cohort that will best benefit from the type of education provided by grammar schools. Children from Aylesbury can attend the grammar schools if they meet the county-wide threshold level. I think it is designed to be as fair as possible to give children the most appropriate education for their ability.”