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It's still failing, says ex-governor

A former governor at the Ridings believes pupils will never make significant academic progress because of the influence of grammar schools in the area.

David Helliwell said the school had not improved in the past eight years, yet had been portrayed with "almost enough spin to bring down the moon".

The former Labour leader of Calderdale council and governor at the school between 1996 and 1998 said the hype did not tell the whole story and masked more fundamental problems with the local education system.

The borough has two grammar schools as well as two church schools and 10 non-selective secondaries.

Mr Helliwell said the Ridings, which draws pupils from the deprived Ovenden area of Halifax, suffers more than most. Many pupils arrive with a reading age of just six and almost half have special needs.

In 1996 just 8 per cent of pupils left with five good GCSEs compared to 14 per cent last year.

"In Calderdale we have grammar schools, church schools and then the rest," he said. "You soon reach the situation that whichever school is at the bottom will remain there, no matter how much money is chucked at it. In this case it happens to be the Ridings.

"The new buildings look good but, despite the spin, it is locked in a cycle of underachievement that it cannot break out of."

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