Boys get karted out for success

1st April 2005 at 01:00
Vroom for improvement? Boys at a Yorkshire comprehensive are being given the chance to win a day out go-karting if they can show they have the driving ambition to do well in their GCSEs.

In the latest example of schools' attempts to improve their pupils' GCSE results, 56 youngsters have just left the starting grid of a scheme to improve their attitude to work.

Selected Year 11 pupils at Joseph Rowntree secondary in York are being given points every week by each of their teachers according to the motivation they display in their studies.

Each gets a point if their attitude improves compared to the previous week, nothing if there is no change, and minus one if it has worsened.

The youngsters have been grouped into nine teams, and every week a trophy is awarded to the winning group. When the competition ends in the summer term after 10 weeks, the winning boys' team will win a trip to a karting track, while the girls are being offered prizes including clothing vouchers.

Andrew Janes, assistant head, said that evidence from the first few weeks suggested the scheme was having a big impact, with most students'

motivation improving.

The statistics showed more pupils were being adjudged to be improving in their attitudes than falling back, while anecdotal evidence from teachers also suggested a positive reaction.

He said: "It is capturing the imagination of the youngsters. They want to win the prizes, after all, and they know they have to work as a team to do so."

He admitted, however, that some pupils not on the scheme were jealous of those on it. The selected pupils are all on the grade CD borderline for GCSE. Elsewhere, schools have attracted controversy for focusing specifically on this group to improve their league table scores.

Some secondaries have even offered pupils money for doing well in their GCSEs. But others now appear to be turning increasingly to schemes designed to transform youngsters' attitudes to learning.

Greensward, in Hockley, Essex, and Deacon's, in Peterborough, assess pupils' motivation on a nine-point scale and then feed these results back to tutors and parents.

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