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Better life chances

I would like to take issue with the reported comment from the author of the research by Keele University into exam results in London (TES, November 14). Garry Gough, said: "The Government's performance league tables distort what schools do. It is increasingly the case that additional resources are put towards pupils on the C-D boundary in order to improve...the school's position in the league tables."

I confess that, since 1993, Islington's Improving Pupil Achievement Project has had, as one of its strands, boosting as many possible D grades to Cs. This is not just because of the league tables but the abundant evidence that employers and universities regard the C-D distinction as being considerably more significant than the other grade boundaries; more Cs rather than Ds equal better life chances for children.

The evidence from Islington is that this emphasis, far from being at the expense of numbers getting D-G grades, has actually helped schools to look at how they can secure greater exam success for all children. Between 1991 and 1997, the percentage in mainstream schools getting five or more A*-C grades rose from 15.8 to 25.3 while the five or more A*-Gs percentage rose from 56.1 to 76.9.

PHIL KELLY

Deputy leader London Borough of Islington London N1

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