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Slugs and arrows hit Brighton school

Shall I compare thee to a slimy slug or a "big and scary crocodile"? To say East Brighton College of Media Arts has a troubled history would be a bit of an understatement. It has changed its name and hopped in and out of special measures more times than many care to remember. But when researchers working for the school asked prospective pupils what animal they would compare it to they got truth a little more brutal than they had bargained for.

A survey of 11-year-olds in the city by University of Brighton academics, commissioned by former head Dr Jill Clough and leaked to the Brighton Evening Argus, reported that one of the more charitable responses compared the college to a slug because it was "stupid, dirty and slimy but slowly getting better".

Others were less forgiving. It was a "big and scary crocodile living in the swamp of Whitehawk" (a local council estate), according to one child who also cautioned that it was "dangerous, ferocious and naughty". Other versions saw the school compared to a "monkey running around wild" and a "sneaky" rat "with a bad reputation".

The only shaft of light for long-suffering staff came from a child who compared the school to a "wild goat that is climbing up slowly". Sadly, the wild goat may never finish his ascent. On Monday, Brighton and Hove Council's schools sub-committee voted to start consultation on closing the college in 2005 because of a lack of students. But head Mark Whitby is still climbing: "Whatever happens with the consultation, our staff are working hard to give our students an excellent education. Our students are responding admirably. And I haven't seen any slugs at all."

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