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Have faith in core values

Wendy Wallace's description of life in the Zacchaeus Centre in Birmingham (Friday, September 15) presented a startling contrast with the litany of failure normally associated with children on the brink of exclusion.

The depressing near-collapse of the Fresh Start programme means that yet another new look at educational and social disadvantage has become inevitable.

We read that 87 per cent of pupils return successfully to their schools from Zacchaeus, so what exactly are its distinctive features? Not flashy facilities and highly paid superheads. Small numbers andcommitted, skilled leadership are clearly vital elements in the centre's success, but the heart of the matter seems to lie elsewhere: "A shared ethos has been established between the centre and the schools it serves."

The centre's director, Moyra Healy, is modest enough to recognise that particular circumstances prevail in that the Catholic ethos gives schools and centre a unifying set of core values.

Dennis Richards, Harrogate

Send your letters to Jill Craven, Friday magazine, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX. Or email:

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