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Performance plummets at GCSE - or does it?

Reforms to school performance tables published today have resulted in big falls in attainment at GCSE level. Some independent schools have posted results of zero after the qualifications many of them favour were not included. Others saw drops of up to 20 per cent after the rules on grades achieved in re-sits were altered. Some heads say the tables are now confusing and irrelevant.

The government says it's about encouraging schools to equip pupils with robust academic qualifications. Our social affairs correspondent Christine Alsford spoke to Felicity Lusk, head of Abingdon School in Oxfordshire, Charlotte Vere from the Independent Schools Association, academy principal Dylan Davies, the minister for school reform Nick Gibb and GCSE students from the South facing tougher exams this summer.

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Man burgles ex-girlfriend's house stealing contraceptive pills and lighter

Paschal Wall Credit: Kent Police

A 34-year-old man has been jailed after admitting breaking into his ex-girlfriend's house and taking a laptop, contraceptive pills and a lighter.

Paschal Wall, of Whiting Crescent, in Faversham split up with his partner, a woman in her 30s last year.

When he discovered she was in a new relationship he started to contact her repeatedly.

Wall was sentenced to 18 months in prison at Maidstone Crown Court after he pleaded guilty to one count of burglary on January 26.

He was also issued with a two-year restraining order preventing him from approaching his ex-partner.

We do not tolerate the notion of Kent residents feeling unsafe in their own homes and will work with every tool at our disposal to combat burglary and bring to justice those who believe they have the right to commit these crimes.

– Det Con Neil Ireland,

'Beautiful' and 'powerful' building given listed status

This building now has Grade Two listed status Credit: ITV Meridian

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and when it comes to the latest addition to the listed building database that certainly seems to be true.

Gun Wharf in Dock Road in Chatham has been given a preservation order meaning it now has Grate Two listed status by the Government.

It follows an English Heritage project to recognise some of the finest post-war office buildings in England.

t was build almost 40 years ago Credit: ITV Meridian

“To be named as one of 14 post-war office buildings listed across the country is something quite special and the fact it is still a working building is testament to its quality.

“The building is no stranger to awards and when it was built was described in the Architects’ Journal as ‘powerful outside and beautiful inside’."

– CLLR RODNEY CHAMBERS, LEADER OF MEDWAY COUNCIL
It is currently used by Medway Council Credit: ITV Meridian

Two men charged with human trafficking in Medway

Two men are due to face magistrates next month charged in connection with human trafficking in Medway.

It follows a multi-agency investigation in 2013 into the alleged exploitation of Slovakian nationals, living and working in the Medway Towns.

Marian Dzuga, 36, of Windsor Road in Gillingham, was charged with four counts of knowingly requiring another person to perform forced/compulsory labour, one count of arranging or facilitating travel of a person within the UK for exploitation and one count of trafficking a person into the UK for exploitation.

Jozef Dzuga, 35, of Salisbury Road in Chatham, was charged with trafficking a person into the UK for exploitation.

Both men have been bailed to appear at Medway Magistrates’ Court on 10 February.

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Search for fishing trawler resumes

The search for a fishing trawler which went missing in the English Channel with four crew on board has been resumed.

Lifeboat and helicopter crews were stood down early this morning following a thorough search for the 40m-long vessel which vanished in rough seas and gale-force winds.

RNLI crews from Dungeness and Dover in Kent were re-joining the operation, while a Hastings-based crew was on standby.

The RAF are also helping with the search together with French aircraft and the Coastguard Agency,

Daylight has made a difference although the weather conditions still remaining challenging. The search and rescue operation is restarting.

Dutch and Belgian fishing boats "saturated" the area where the vessel apparently went missing in the hope of finding some trace.

– Coastguard Agency spokesman

Number of schools considered to be underperforming doubles under new system

Twice as many schools are now considered to be underperforming than last year Credit: PA

The number of secondary schools considered to be underperforming has doubled after a major change to the exams, according to official figures released today.

But our region did have the most improved school in the country - the Charter Academy in Southsea.

It has seen its results jump from 39% of students getting at least five Cs including the basics in 2011 to 83% achieving this standard in 2014

However, than 300 schools fell beneath the Government's floor target this year after failing to ensure that enough pupils gained five good GCSE grades.

The Department for Education says that the rise is down to two key reforms - a decision that only a teenager's first attempt at a GCSE would count in the annual performance tables, and a move to strip poor quality vocational qualifications out of the rankings.

But the increase is likely to cause concerns among school leaders, who have voiced fears that schools will be considered failing not just due to changes in the system but also"volatility" in last summer's GCSE results.

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