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Concern raised over exam results at school where teachers took strike action over pupil violence

23 Feb 2024 3 minute read
Members of the NEU and NASUWT teaching unions outside Caldicot School

Twm Owen, local democracy reporter

A councillor has questioned whether strikes over allegations of pupil violence are linked to a school’s below par GCSE results. 

New data on school performance has shown Caldicot Comprehensive hasn’t performed as well in the crucial exams as other similar schools it has been grouped with across Wales. 

It is also the only one of four secondary schools in Monmouthshire to have performed below average among its “family” of similar schools in the key areas of literacy, numeracy and science at GCSE level.

The percentage of five or more top A and A* grades at Caldicot, at 22.3 per cent, was in line with the Welsh average, but again below the 26.1 per cent average among similar schools. 


Teachers staged three days of strike action, which closed the 1,300 pupil school, during September and October 2023, with unions the NEU and NASUWT claiming school leadership has failed to deal with violence and verbal abuse towards staff from pupils. 

Both unions confirmed in July they had balloted members over potential strike action, with the NASUWT having said concerns over behaviour and management of the school stretch back to 2019. 

Caldicot West End councillor Jill Bond raised the issue of the school’s performance when the figures for the four comprehensives were shared with the Monmouthshire County Council’s performance scrutiny committee. 

The Labour councillor asked: “Why is Caldicot not doing so well? Is that linked to any of the recent strike action going on at Caldicot?” 

Exam sources

Will McLean, the council’s chief officer for children and young people, said the results related to GCSE exams taken in summer 2023. 

He said: “The issues we had in Caldicot were primarily in the summer term. We are still working closely with the school and governing body and I’m very pleased to say there has been no further industrial action.” 

Under a new system for monitoring performance schools in Wales are awarded points for every GCSE grade achieved in the nominated nine subjects, which must include English, mathematics and science (and Welsh in Welsh medium schools). 

Points increase by six between every grade and under the system, named the Capped Nine, Caldicot achieved a score of 376.6 points which was 1.1 points below the average for its family of similar schools which stood at 377.7. 

Caldicot is ranked among the group of third least disadvantaged schools in Wales, based on pupils entitled to free school meals and those living in the most deprived areas, alongside schools in Swansea, north east Wales, Aberystwyth, Porthcawl, Bridgend and Llantwit Major. 

The highest achieving group of pupils, and those in the middle third at Caldicot, did achieve grades above the Welsh Government’s modelled expectations but those in the lowest third scored six points below their expected performance. 

However Caldicot, as well as Abergavenny’s King Henry, Chepstow and Monmouth comprehensives, all finished overall above their expected modelled performance.

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