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Results spell bad news for Hackney

HACKNEY, the beleaguered east London council, is set to fall yet further behind in national league tables for 11-year-olds.

The council, whose school improvement service is currently being privatised, has recorded the lowest improvement in English of 46 authorities surveyed by The TES. Only just over half of Hackney's 11-year-olds are at the required standard in the subject.

Hackney, fifth from bottom in last year's tables, has dramatically bucked this year's trend of rapid improvement among urban councils. Its gain of only 0.2 percentage points, which compares to an average rise among the 46 authorities of 6 points, leaves 52.4 per cent of its pupils attaining level 4 in English at the end of key stage 2.

In maths, Hackney schools have improved by 6.7 points to 54 per cent. On average, the surveyed councils improved by 11 points.

This year's results, to be confirmed by the Government next week, will leave Hackney well short of its targets for 2000.

Its performance also compares badly with that of other struggling councils. In Nottingham, bottom of the tables last year, schools have improved by 7 points in English and 13 in maths. Newham, bottom among London authorities, is reporting a four-point increase in English and 14 points in maths.

The results leave Hackney 18 points short of its 2002 target in English and 16 points adrift in maths. They are bound to increase the pressure on the council - one of three told to hand over part of its education service to private contractors, after a damning inspection report.

Hackney's school improvement service was condemned as "bureaucratic and inept". It has now been contracted out to Nord Anglia, as have the services for ethnic-minority children. Inspectors also branded the council's education development plan inadequate.

Hackney may claim in its defence that its schools' results are damaged by high pupil turnover rates. More than 100 languages are spoken in its schools, which have 4,000 refugees among 25,000 pupils.

Research commissioned by the council earlier this year concluded that the fact that one in three of Hackney's 11-year-olds had not remained at the same school for the previous four years cost it 34 places in the league tables.

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