Bob the Builder fixed our results problems

28th October 2005 at 01:00
Playing the Bob the Builder theme tune as students walk into their technology GCSE exam may seem cheesy, but it is just one of the ploys a south London school used to improve the grades of borderline pupils.

Walking into the exam to the strains of "Bob the Builder! Can we fix it? Bob the Builder! Yes we can!" helped to defuse pre-exam nerves at Coulsden high school, Croydon.

The school used a pound;9,000 grant from London Challenge, the Government's campaign to improve secondary education in the capital, to fund help for pupils on the cusp of a C grade.

Colin Mackinlay, headteacher, said the money paid for learning mentors for 40 targeted students. None was expected to get a C or above in English and maths, but half succeeded.

But many of the ideas benefited all candidates. A two-hour after-school milk and cookies club - supervised by subject teachers and serving home-baked cakes and juice - ran once a week from October to May and attracted 120 of the 160 Year 11s. Study leave was replaced by an in-school timetable, and all pupils received a personalised good luck card on their exam desk from teachers.

"Although the CD borderline is artificial, the reality is that it's the difference between a student going on to a higher course at college or spending a whole year catching up," Mr Mackinlay said.

He credits the project with increasing the proportion of pupils with five Cs or better from 40 to 46 per cent in a year.

Of the 22 London schools involved in London Challenge, 16 improved or maintained their results. The project, supervised by Sir John Rowling, a retired Middlesbrough head, is running in a further 18 London schools this year.

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