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Bite of the apple boosts results

Government's flagship schools fare badly in the controversial key stage 3 league tables finally published this week

Elaine Hilton offered pupils apples and fruit juice to tempt them to stay for after-school booster classes which helped her school notch up the top key stage 3 results in Salford.

The head of Walkden school said providing the classes for all pupils, including the gifted and talented, had helped 90 per cent achieve level 5 or above in English, 85 per cent in maths and 82 per cent in science. Mrs Hilton said: "The booster classes are optional. We can't make them go but we give them fruit juice and an apple. That encourages them.

"School finishes at 3.10pm and we let those going to the classes have a breather. They have a natter and the teacher has a brew with them. Then they start work."

The school, which is a specialist language college, believes that it came ahead of 13 other Salford schools because of a series of initiatives.

English, maths and science teachers have produced revision guides, past papers are used for homework questions and three local authority consultants work with teachers in class.

Mrs Hilton said: "I spent 20 minutes in an ICT lesson this morning sitting with a boy until he got involved in the work. It is that little bit of special attention that makes the difference. It is time-consuming and relatively costly ... but the children come first."

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