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Ethos counts for more than data

Gerard Kelly's editorial ("Your number's up if you don't embrace the data", 7 June) raised the question of whether data are the all-conquering heroes in education. He is right to say "without data, school and student improvement is virtually impossible". It is also right to say that data are hidden when schools find them inconvenient; trumpeted when they show how successful a school is; and fiddled when it is expedient to do so.

We should all consider the possibility that poor results may actually be improved by a supportive and positive school ethos. It is significant that the principal Mr Kelly mentions, who expressed his relief that the suspects on Crimewatch were not his concern any more ("Oh, thank God. They've sat their GCSEs"), is sadly indicative of where we are as a society. Why didn't the principal respond by saying: "Our school needs to improve its citizenship education and maintain a positive ethos or more students will turn out like this in the future"?

Jon Corfield, Holywell, Flintshire.

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