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Pact? Not a sign ..

My attention has been drawn recently to a report about the so-called "pregnancy pact" at Gloucester High in Massachusetts (The TES, August 22).

When the Time magazine story about the pregnancy pact broke on June 19, 2008, I began an investigation into the issue, and discussed it with the principal on three occasions. The principal's recollection of when and from whom he may have heard about a pact evolved during those meetings.

I also sought information from my secretary, the high school secretary, the vice-principal, the dean of academic affairs, the director of guidance, all the guidance counsellors, the two members of the high school health centre staff who were most familiar with the students, and a teacher. None of these usually very well informed people had heard of a pregnancy pact.

Mayor Carolyn Kirk has subsequently confirmed that her reference during a press conference to the principal's "foggy memory" was ill-chosen. The fact remains, however, that the principal made reference to a pact in conversation with me, his recollection changed over time, and that nobody then or since has been able to offer any evidence that there was a pact.

It is worth noting that the "international scandal" generated by the media was based on a teenage pregnancy rate in Gloucester which was actually lower than that of the US in general and Massachusetts in particular.

Christopher Farmer, Superintendent of schools, Gloucester, Massachusetts, United States (former chief education officer, Coventry).

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