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Letters extra: Target Madness

We are a small rural primary school with a dedicated and efficient staff and we've just completed our latest School Review by the LEA. The school had a successful OFSTED inspection in 1999 and 'in comparison with all schools nationally' we are doing well. Indeed, in most categories we are above average and in some cases well above them.

However, when it comes to assessing the school 'in comparison with schools in similar context' the school's results are notably worse. We are therefore not rated as Category 2 Effective, but as Category 3 Developing. This is entirely because we have virtually no claimants for free school meals. We are therefore compared to schools in very affluent areas, which we are not.

At the recent review, it was agreed that the best, if not the only, solution was for the school to seek out three or four families, who are entitled to free school meals but are not claiming them. These families could materially alter the range of schools with which we are compared and significantly improve our grades, whilst having nothing to do with the school's academic achievements.

This seems to us to be 'target madness' and isnbsp;deeply discouraging to the headteacher, the staff and the governing body.

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