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Borderline raids

Pupils 'yanked' from classes to boost GCSE maths and English

TEACHERS ARE protesting over pupils being taken from their classes to be given GCSE booster lessons in English and maths.

Staff believe other subjects are being marginalised because of the pressure of league tables.

Secondaries have been ranked on the proportion of their pupils gaining five good GCSEs including English and maths since January, forcing schools to focus on the two subjects.

David Lambert, the chief executive of the Geographical Association, said he was aware that humanities subjects being "squeezed out enormously".

In the past month, a well-regarded school pulled selected pupils out of GCSE lessons in other subjects for an English revision class. A teacher wrote on The TES website: "I yanked the CD borderliners from their other subjects for two-hour English booster sessions and I had to fight all the other subject teachers' howls of protest."

He said: "The biggest issue seemed to be performance management. Teachers said if their pay rise is determined on results, they were damned if they were going to lose a single lesson."

One contributor to the website discussion said to the English teacher: "Can you truly imagine that your A* to Cs are more important than anyone else's?"

John Bangs, the head of education at the National Union of Teachers, said: "It is reasonable to want to concentrate on maths and English, but what is not is the corporate panic about schools' positions in the league tables."

John Dunford, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "It is not just about league tables, but about pupils' future prospects, making sure they have the core subjects they need for a job."

In February, The TES reported how the secondary national strategy's Study Plus scheme is encouraging schools to give borderline CD pupils extra help in English and maths, in some cases as alternatives to GCSEs in other subjects.

Heather Scott, the chair of the secondary committee at the Historical Association, said: "I can't understand why you would want to sacrifice a pupil doing really well in a subject they like for the sake of revision classes in English and maths that might not even help."

Morten Morland, page 25Leading article, page 26

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