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Bac backs history but makes a martyr of RE

Yesterday I worked with 90 Year 9 students in a community secondary in Walthamstow, north-east London, as diverse as could be and serving a pretty economically deprived area. The headteacher showed me the findings of a recent Ofsted report in which the school was quite rightly graded "excellent" for community cohesion, ethos, student well-being, relationships etc.

Because of the kind of area it serves, the school only received a derisory "satisfactory" for results in English, maths and science and attendance (poor largely because of a plethora of religious holidays different from the preferred Christian ones).

Staff have just heard that its imminent Ofsted re-inspection would only concentrate on the English Baccalaureate and attendance. In a single stroke, the students and teachers there have had to change their conception of their school from one doing a demonstrably excellent job in difficult circumstances to one under serious threat of being deemed unsatisfactory.

Jonathan Barnes, Teacher educator and former headteacher, Kent.

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