Don't tell us what our pupils will achieve;Letter

19th February 1999 at 00:00
THE article "Shame list to expose coasting schools" (TES, February 5) is yet more evidence of this Government's application of the Peter Pan and Wendy principle; that if you clap hard enough, you will get what you wish for.

I am the headteacher of a school which has failed to reach an agreement with its local authority on a suitable target for GCSE results in 2000. Our target is based on our knowledge of the ability profile of the specific year group, with 5 per cent added for aspirational, value-added purposes.

My local authority which has massively underfunded all its schools for some years now has tried to insist that I should include within the target range a number of children who I know have no hope whatsoever of achieving such grades. And therein lies the rub. I know what my Year 10 students are, and are not, capable of achieving.

My October 1998 report by the Office for Standards in Education tells me that my staff are doing a good job in teaching children well, in raising standards and - crucially - in using target-setting for that very purpose.

My questions to the local authority as to what will happen to any schools and, in particular, headteachers who subsequently fail to achieve these over-ambitious targets were met with silence.

Putting pressure on local authorities to embarrass or blackmail schools into setting unattainable targets which have simply been plucked from the air will not of itself, despite David Blunkett's job-staking ambitions, raise standards.

Like many schools which are likely to find themselves on the "shame lists" you mention, we use real data, knowledge of real children, and constant hard work to try to push up performance. Crossing our fingers, wishing and clapping as hard as we can do not figure among our attainment-raising strategies.

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