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Kick start KS2 success

Some schools teach to the test, while others hand out practice papers. But at Manor junior and infants' school - one thousands of primaries to find out its league-table position this week - teachers ensure key stage 2 success by sending their pupils on karate courses or abseiling.

The Wolverhampton primary was among 208 nationally where every pupils scored the expected level 4 or above in their English, maths and science KS2 tests.

The number of schools achieving 100 per cent level 4 in all subjects rose marginally, from 202 last year. Anita Cliff, Manor head, attributes her school's success to its focus on out-of-school activities, such as abseiling, quad-biking or karate. "It's about self esteem," she said. "They believe they can really achieve, and nothing fazes them. We talk through their emotions, from 'I don't think I can do this' to 'wow, look what I can do'. They take that attitude into their learning; their work in class."

Manor's success came after it narrowly missed out on getting perfect results last year.

"The pupils are probably more proud of being able to abseil," said Ms Cliff. "But there's a sense of achievement all-round."

Inner city schools dominated the list of primaries where pupils have progressed the most between the ages of seven and 11. Many include large numbers of pupils whose first language is not English. These value-added tables were topped by Cobourg primary, in Southwark, south London.

Cobourg, where 46 per cent of pupils receive free school meals and more than half speak English as an additional language, was placed in special measures by Ofsted in June 2004. Julie Evans, its head, said: "I think deprivation tends to be used as an excuse. We have a commitment that every child will succeed. It's about creating an environment where pupils want to come to school, where they know we believe in them."

Najma Chaudhary, head of Heath Mount primary, in Birmingham, agrees. Her school, where 99 per cent of pupils speak English as a second language, came sixth in this year's table.

"Sometimes people think that children from bilingual backgrounds aren't very clever," she said. "They do need a little more focus on language. But that doesn't mean they're any less able."

London schools had the worst record for truancy, with 10 authorities in the capital reporting levels of unauthorised absence twice that of the national average.

But the worst truancy rate was at Roughlee primary, in Lancashire. However, as the school has only 17 pupils, and the absences were all in one family, the figures were considered unrepresentative

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