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Take the middle way to Year 8

IN a recent article on the two-year key stage 3 project (TES April 4) David Miliband asserts that for many pupils Year 8 is boring. May we suggest that the answer to the comment in your editorial: "What they should be thinking about is what sort of schooling will really suit children at this difficult and exciting phase of life", is to be found in the nine-to-13 middle school?

A school with a rationale based on the particular needs of this age group which was developed some 40 years ago within the maintained sector and has existed and thrived within the private sector for considerably longer.

At the middle school Year 8 pupils are working hard to develop their knowledge and skills, are highly motivated, are developing portfolios of quality work to take with them to their next schools and are making excellent academic progress.

Evidence from inspections show nine to 13 middle schools outperform other forms of schooling for creating a positive working ethos and providing quality and range in curriculum and other learning opportunities as well as maintaining and developing academic standards.

Other research suggests that attainment at the end of KS3 is at least as good in a three-tier middle school system as a two-tier primarysecondary system.

We welcome the two-year KS3 project, which incidentally contains nine to 13 middle schools. At last, we see innovation with a focus on the relationship between curriculum design, teaching and learning styles and children's cognitive and social development.

Year 8 is boring? Certainly not in a middle school - ask the staff, ask the parents, ask Ofsted, and most importantly of all, visit one and ask the children.

Ian Pinder Executive officer National Middle Schools' Forum 5 Napiers Way Sutton Waldron Dorset

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