Improving picture in Islington

Jon Slater

A London secondary which was recently among the most criticised in the country now provides a good education and is improving rapidly, according to inspectors.

Islington Arts and Media school wins praise for its teaching, a dramatic improvement in attendance and "the headteacher's exceptional and inspirational leadership" in a report to be published later this month.

Three years ago, its problems were there for all to see. Viewers of a television documentary watched horrified as discipline collapsed, Torsten Friedag, its superhead, resigned and the "fresh start" school failed its inspection.

Andrew Adonis, the Prime Minister's senior education adviser, resigned as a governor of the school which Tony Blair had rejected for his own children.

The school's turnaround began with the appointment of Dick Ewen as head in 2001. Then the former George Orwell school came out of special measures in 2002. This month's report represents further progress.

"Islington Arts and Media school is an effective and rapidly improving school that provides a good quality of education and good value for money," it is expected to say.

Exam results remain below the national average but have improved sharply with 34 per cent of pupils gaining five or more A* to C GCSEs in 2003 compared to 20 per cent in 2002.

The school, where 856 pupils speak 37 languages, was also praised for its multicultural ethos.

About 10 per cent of pupils have only basic English, 30 per cent have special needs and about half are entitled to free school meals.

Mr Ewen said: "We are extremely pleased with this report but there is always room for improvement."

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Jon Slater

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