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Proud to be a typical comp

BOSWORTH College does not have specialist status, it is not a beacon school and there is no extra cash from Excellence in Cities, action zones or any other initiative.

In the infamous words of the Alastair Campbell, theLeicestershire school could be a "bog-standard comprehensive".

Head Sue Rothwell said the term was meaningless: "There is no such thing. The Government does not understand the rich and varied nature of schools that are striving to meet the needs of their young people. If that is what 'bog-standard' means, then we're proud to be so."

The 1,167-pupil school is known locally as the "greenhouse" because of rows of glass pyramids on its roof.

There is an even ability spread, a lower than average, but rising, number of pupils on free school meals, above-average special needs and 50 per cent of pupils get five C grades or better at GCSE.

The school has a high-performing sixth form which will send three students to Oxbridge this year and a netball team which is one of he few from state schools to make the national finals at Roedean two years running.

Drama, sports and computer clubs flourish. A unit for visually-impaired pupils means a blind girl, with her guide dog, has mainstream schooling. Pupils call teachers by their first names and there is no uniform - liberal traditions that have survived and create an ethos of mutual respect, according to teachers, pupils and inspectors.

Setting is used in maths, science, languages and some English classes.

But specialist status may be the only way for the school to get the funding it needs. Leicestershire is one of the worst-funded education authorities in the country and plans to apply for sports college status are on the drawing board.

Ms Rothwell said: "At the moment my funding does not allow me to really promote the most able or support the least able. We'll go for specialist status because I'm a pragmatist but I would much rather a level playing field for all schools."

Julie Henry

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