Deputy head's winning post

Jeremy Sutcliffe

IN a novel twist on payment-by-results, deputy headteacher Tim McCarthy has bet pound;100 that 30 per cent of this year's stable of GCSE thoroughbreds at Avondale high school, in Stockport, will achieve five or more A*-C grades.

With odds of 10-1 from bookmakers William Hill, he stands to win pound;1,000. The bet was accepted after Tim gave a form guide to the school's past performance, which averaged a below-par 20 per cent in the past four years.

It's a bold wager but Tim, a regular at Haydock Park races, is no stranger to those.

If he succeeds, he plans to spend pound;100 on celebration drinks for the staff and the rest on school projects.

If gambling itself doesn't appeal, schools can always apply for the proceeds of betting in the form of a lottery grant.

The Arts Council is, apparently, to spend pound;400,000 on sending performance artists into schools to teach "streetarts" such as busking, juggling, break-dancing and mime.

The idea is to enable children to consider such arts as a career, in much the same way as they take up music or drama.

Predictably, not everyone thinks that this a good use of public funds. Theresa May, the shadow education secretary, sniffed: "What will they be teaching next: graffiti?"

Hard-pressed heads, though, may think that training their young charges to become pavement beggars to raise cash for the school fund is the perfect way of solving their budget worries.

Lessons in break-dancing might be beyond the pale for traditionalists, but they may be placated by the return of ballroom dancing to schools.

Alan Homer, an enthusiastic amateur, is leading the revival having set up ballroom classes at schools in Berkshire, and plans to waltz, cha-cha, rumba and jive across the South-east.

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Jeremy Sutcliffe

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