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Case study;Profile;Clayton-le-woods;Primary League tables

Bill Sloan took over at Clayton-le-Woods in Lancashire eight years ago. Now he is the proud head of one of England's 100 most improved primaries.

Two years ago the school's results were around the county norm with 52 per cent reaching the standard expected for their age in English and maths.

But now, 94 per cent of 11-year-olds at the Church of England school are achieving the standard in all three core subjects.

Clayton-le-Woods is lucky to have motivated pupils, and plenty of parental involvement. But central to its success is good teaching, says Mr Sloan.

The 49-year-old head is a fan of the literacy and numeracy strategies, which he believes have put teaching centre stage again. And he sees one of his key tasks as empowering, enthusing and motivating staff.

The 238-pupil school introduced literacy and numeracy hours in September 1997, teaches a minimum of two hours' science a week, and has invested in classroom assistants to reduce adult-pupil ratios.

"It's the quality of teaching that matters. If the teaching is good, the child will make very good progress irrespective of their ability," said Mr Sloan.

He adds: "I have seen the excitement coming back into teaching which was lost following the introduction of the national curriculum. I think in time people will start believing in themselves again."

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