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Case study;Lady Lumley's secondary;Briefing;Document of the week

A WILLINGNESS to examine and alter teaching styles has been the key to improvements at a North Yorkshire comprehensive, says its headteacher.

When Lady Lumley's, an 850-pupil secondary school in the market town of Pickering, was first inspected in 1994, it was praised for its leadership and well-motivated students, but inspectors said teachers should encourage a greater spirit of inquiry among pupils.

Norman Corner, who had taken over as head only months before, took this to heart and began an intensive programme of staff development. Now, teaching and learning workshops, classroom observation by all members of staff, and team teaching are routine.

The percentage of pupils achieving five passes at GCSE rose from 40 per cent to over 60 per cent between 1992 and last year's inspection. A-level attainment is also very high, with a 98 per cent pass rate and half of sixth-formers achieving A and B grades.

The number of pupil exclusions has fallen dramatically from 68 two years ago to 28 last year.

Mr Corner believes that the improvements are a result of staff building pupils' self-esteem by helping them to learn more effectively. Drama, compulsory for all pupils at key stage 3, is also vital for confidence building.

Although pupils are closely monitored, they are made party to assessments. Seventy per cent of pupils, for example, attend parents' evenings - where they are shown how their efforts can make all the difference to results.

Pupil responsibility is fostered through active schools councils, and there is a house structure for sport managed by sixth-formers.

The school is also developing a system where sixth-form mentors are matched to pupils in years 10 and 11, to encourage independent learning through peer support.

Elaine Williams

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