Checkered past of Lilian Baylis

2nd June 2006 at 01:00
1972: Lilian Baylis school is established after the merger of a local boys' and local girls' school. It is named after the founder of the Sadler's Wells ballet company. Its concrete buildings, particularly its octagonal hall, are later considered by some to be architectural classics.

1990: It wins the Jerwood award for its range of extra-curricular activities. John MacGregor, then Conservative education secretary, describes it as "an example of what the best in state education can offer".

1994: Ofsted brands more than half its lessons as unsatisfactory or poor and it is placed in special measures.

1997: David Blunkett is appointed as education secretary after Labour comes to power. Lilian Baylis is included in a list of 18 schools which he names and shames for failing.

* Head Greta Akpeneye is forced to take early retirement under pressure from governors and the local authority. She is replaced by Yvonne Bates, a former inspector and trouble-shooter, who stays for a one-year secondment.

1998: The school is officially taken off the failing list by inspectors.

Jane Sheldrake becomes head, with John Liavold as executive head.

1999: Teachers threaten to strike after they are made to re-apply for their jobs. Many staff leave.

2000: Jane Sheldrake leaves to work for the Independent Schools Council.

David Saunders becomes acting head.

2001: Gary Phillips becomes acting head after two years as deputy and is promoted to headship the following year.

* Ofsted concludes that the school still has serious weaknesses but that there are clear signs of improvement.

2002: Only 6 per cent of pupils gain five A*-C grades at GCSE.

2003: Oliver Letwin, the Conservative MP, says at his party's conference that he would "rather beg on the streets" than send his children to his nearest school. He is later forced to apologise after it is identified as Lilian Baylis.

2004: Pupils move into a brand new pound;20 million Private Finance Initiative building.

2005: Tony Blair visits the school as part of Labour's general election campaign and describes it as "a wonderful school that has improved dramatically".

* The proportion of pupils getting five A*-C grade GCSEs reaches 36 per cent.

* Ofsted declares that the school is good with several outstanding features, including its leadership and extra-curricular activities.

2006: All Year 7 places are filled by pupils whose parents picked the school as their first choice.

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