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Blunkett blights recruitment

SO ANOTHER major benchmark has appeared out of nowhere, with the Education Secretary David Blunkett's announcement that all secondary schools must achieve 20 per cent - plus 5A* to C grades at GCSE by 2004 or be deemed to be failing.

No mention of closure or Fresh Starts for any of the other schools whose students fail to achieve their potential, of course, such as the grammar schools identified by Professor Jesson's study of value-added effectiveness (TES, March 3).

So much safer to single out those schools facing the greatest challenges, most of them full of committed and very hardworking teacers, and threaten them with closure and dismissal if they don't meet their targets.

I wonder if the Secretary of State would like to have a small wager (my salary against his, say) that this "suspended sentence" will have a significant effect on certain schools' ability to recruit staff over the next four years.

If they can't attract staff they certainly won't be able to raise standards. Mr Blunkett might as well close some of them now and save everyone a lot of needless anxiety and heartache.

Chris Dunne


Langdon Park School

Byron Street

London E14

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