Head mourns death of comprehensive ideal

Kidbrooke was opened in 1954 as the first purpose-built comprehensive school in England.

Situated in a deprived area of south-east London, the first pupils arrived with hugely differing academic abilities and life experiences but were each encouraged to develop alongside each other to fulfil their potential.

Today, the school remains true to this ideal. It is therefore with some dismay that its head Trisha Jaffe learned of the Education Secretary's plans to increase the number of academies and specialist schools that can select a percentage of their intake.

Having taught in comprehensive schools in Birmingham, Manchester and London since 1974, Ms Jaffe believes such measures will only serve to increase the gap between high and low attaining schools.

She said: "The more you increase selection in some schools the more it will have a negative impact on others and widen the attainment gap between schools.

"Estelle Morris seems to value schools only in terms of raw outcomes rather than for their value-added achievement. But there are actually many very good schools that would come within her 'one- size-fits-all' bracket.

"If you've got an over-subscribed, low mobility school where 75 to 80 per cent of intake arrive having achieved the required level at key stage 2, it would be criminal if your GCSE scores were not very high.

"But if, like us, you have the opposite, with more than half of pupils on free school meals, 40 per cent from families originating outside of the UK and the vast majority under-achieving when they arrive and these pupils then improve above the expected rate, then that is what we should be promoting and celebrating."

Amanda Kelly

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