Harlesden secondary school that failed GCSE national target could become an academy

Headteacher of Newman Catholic College admits situation is ‘difficult’

The head teacher of a Harlesden school has said he has ‘not ruled out’ the school becoming an academy after their GCSE results slipped below the national average.

At Newman Catholic College, in Harlesden, 39 per cent of pupils achieved the five A* C grades, including maths and English, falling below the government’s benchmark of 40 per cent.

Richard Kolka told the Times their situation was ‘difficult’ following last Thursday’s results day.

He said: “We will have to see what the future holds, you do hear about failing schools being made to become academies and that is something we would have to address if it came to down to it.

“Our aim to continuously improve and we wouldn’t necessarily rule it out, any decision has to be one that benefits everyone.”

This year the government increased the benchmark from 35 per cent to 40 and hinted that schools which fell short could be forced to become academies or face closure altogether.

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In addition, thousands of students across the country had trouble after grade boundaries in English exams were shifted meaning some pupils missed out on their predicted grades.

Mr Kolka, who took over in 2004, continued: “The school actually did better than last year but with these changes and emphasis on maths and English its obviously makes things difficult, especially taking into account the area we serve where those two subjects are a particular struggle.

“If just a few of the boys don’t get the grade they need, in a situation where one boy is equal to one per cent, it can have a huge impact overall.

“Many of these children’s first language is not English so we really do try and put a focus on that.”

The all boys’ school, formerly Cardinal Hinsley, in Harlesden Road did however post a 95 per cent overall pass rate.

Mr Kolka added: “We will need to sit down and discuss the future with the relevant people but there are reasons to be positive, we are improving by the year.”