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Doughnuts fill attendance hole

DOUGHNUTS and shiny exercise books have been tempting children to turn up for school on Saturday, despite attendance problems in term time.

Langford primary in Fulham, west London, has held Saturday classes for 30 Year 6 pupils from seven schools under the Government's Easter School scheme, aimed at raising 11-year-olds' test results.

Attendance at the classes has been especially heartening for the staff given the school's relatively high truancy rate.

The primary had a 3.4 per cent unauthorised absence rate last year, compared with a national primary average of 0.5 per cent. But the Saturday school has been so popular that extra pupils have turned up hoping to be let in.

Headteacher Anne-Louise de Buriane, her deputy and a Year 6 teacher took four Saturday schools this term. The sessions are supported by the standards unit at the Department for Education and Skills.

Each session consists of a one-hour maths lesson and one-hour English lesson. The lessons focus on topics that are known to be tricky for pupils who are on the borderline of achieving the expected standard, level 4, in national tests.

Mrs de Buriane said: "The children have all been enthusiastic about coming on a Saturday and the school council has even requested that we do it again next year.

"What makes it different is that there are four or five pupils from each school who come and meet up here. They do not have to wear uniform and they are not with their regular teachers.

"We try to make them feel special. I have bought them very nice hard-covered notebooks for their work. The morning also includes parachute games and a break with doughnuts and orange or apple juice."

The school came bottom of the league table in Hammersmith and Fulham last year: 43 per cent of children left with level 4 English and 61 per cent in maths.

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