In the danger zone

24th January 2003 at 00:00
WITH just 11 per cent of pupils getting five Cs or better at GCSE, Elmhirst school is in the danger zone - and its value-added figure does little to take the pressure off.

But, according to headteacher Eddie Needham, other statistics show that the Barnsley school does make a difference for its pupils.

For example, 100 per cent of teenagers who both started the school in Year 7 and have attended 90 per cent of the time pass five GCSEs; 30 per cent get five Cs or better.

However truancy, more young people with special needs and high pupil mobility - a third of children join from other schools during their secondary career - take their toll on exam results Mr Needham said: "Pupils who are disadvantaged to this level face greater disadvantage as they get older. The difference in attainment between high-performing and low-performing pupils actually widens as they get older."

At his school, he says, simply getting pupils to turn up each day is a major achievement.

Mr Needham said: "Education is not highly valued in this area. Staff don't get cards from parents at Christmas thanking them for doing a wonderful job.

"But we have children here who could achieve much more and staff make huge efforts to raise their rock-bottom expectations."

Work-related learning, a main feature of the Government's 14 to 19 strategy published this week, has made a difference for some pupils.

But courses at Barnsley College and work experience by teenagers are not rewarded in the current league tables.

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