100 per cent relaxed

Kevin Rhodes has a remarkably laid-back attitude to target-setting for 11-year-olds.

Like his peers, the head of St John the Baptist RC primary, Gateshead, wanted every Year 6 pupil to aim for level 4. But, unlike them, he then set the 2002 targets accordingly: 100 per cent for maths and English. Most heads avoid such high targets, as they fear missing them will reflect badly on their reputation.

But Mr Rhodes said: "The national tests are just an assessment, though I accept the figures are useful because they help tell us what's happening in the classroom. But they are not the be-all and end-all. By setting our targets at 100 per cent because we believe everyone can do well, this means less pressure on the children."

Mr Rhodes claims his more relaxed approach has paid off.

In 1996 around half of pupils reached the expected level.

This year, 28 pupils sat the tests: 87 per cent reached level 4 in science, 68 per cent reached level 4 in English and 63 per cent reached level 4 in maths, although this is down on last year.

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