Jumping on the maths wagon

Turning the long jump into a lesson in statistics is one way a Manchester school hopes to leap ahead in the new league tables, which emphasise exam scores in maths and English.

Stretford high, in Trafford, has introduced a cross-curricular approach to teaching the subjects as it seeks to help more pupils improve their GCSE grades.

Yesterday's league tables should have been a day of celebration at Stretford, a former failing school where the proportion of pupils gaining five or more good GCSEs has trebled to 55 per cent in three years.

It was brought down to earth, however, as the percentage gaining five or more including English and maths rose from 12 to just 19 per cent. But Derek Davies, the headteacher, hopes a new strategy, launched this year, will boost grades in these subjects.

Maths and English teachers have worked with colleagues from other departments to produce advice on how staff can stress the connections between the subjects for pupils.

For example, in PE lessons, teenagers take fitness tests and then plot their performance on a graph. And French lessons are being used to build pupils' understanding of English grammar. And 40 pupils who have been identified as having the potential to achieve five or more GCSEs, including English and maths, have been selected for extra support, including mentoring.

All staff will also be judged, in their performance management, against targets for raising the school's performance on the new measure.

Mr Davies said: "It was hard, after all the progress we have made in the last couple of years, to say to staff 'That's brilliant, but we are now being judged on something else'. But the measure has changed and we need to adapt our approach."

Photograph:Howard Walker

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