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A big boost from Buffy

Headteacher Jane Holland is one step ahead of the chief inspector's call this week to use Buffy the Vampire Slayer to boost young people's achievement.

David Bell said television companies should provide more strong, female role models such as Buffy to inspire girls in school and in their subsequent careers.

At Maryhill school in Staffordshire, Buffy is already at the centre of a campaign to persuade pupils to think positively ahead of this summer's GCSEs.

Buffy follows in the footsteps of Spiderman and Bob the Builder as a figurehead in the school's drive to improve its GCSE results.

Posters in the school proclaim: "Buffy slays the vampire of self-doubt, believe in yourself and access your supernatural powers." And the message appears to be working.

In 2001, the year before the first Bob the Builder-led campaign, only 29 per cent of pupils gained five or more A*-C GCSEs.

The figure increased to 43 per cent in 2002, and to 46 per cent last year.

This year Ms Holland hopes that Buffy will help the school to reach 50 per cent.

Maryhill's positive thinking message is backed up by an assessment for learning strategy which gives pupils targets based on their prior attainment.

Mr Bell would no doubt endorse the improvements made by the school, but inspectors might be less impressed by some of the antics which have surrounded the campaign.

Last year one of five inflatable Spidermen on display in the school managed to end up in a local nightclub.

Ms Holland admits that not all pupils concentrate on the core message in the posters.

"Student reactions to the Buffy poster do not altogether support David Bell's comments," she said.

"Boys think they are brilliant and have asked for personal copies. Girls are asking me to create one using the supporting character Angel just for them.

"And some members of staff have asked when they are going to get the life-size blow-up versions for their classroomsI but the less said about that the better."

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