Failed because pupils are poor?;Letter

4th June 1999 at 01:00
THE APPARENT bias of Office for Standards in Education grades towards schools in wealthier areas (TES, May 21) should be investigated urgently.

School closure, teacher redundancies and relocation of pupils are all consequences of continued "failure". Misdiagnosis of a school's problems may not facilitate an appropriate improvement.

Willesden high school in Brent can be categorised as a school with poorer pupils. It was also failed by OFSTED in 1997 and is on special measures. Recently it calculated the value added by the school for the 1997 and 1998 GCSE cohorts.

In order to do this it measured the progress made by each student at key stage 4 using the methods described by the Department for Education and Employment for the 1998 GCSE value-added pilot study.

We found out that our students were in the top 20 per cent for achieving value added in 1997 and in the top 5 per cent for 1998. Yet in 1997 we failed our inspection with teaching 81 per cent satisfactory or better and in 1998 we continued to fail with teaching 60 per cent satisfactory or better.

This autumn our school may be designated for a "Fresh Start", redundancies will follow and many mid-career teachers will be unable to gain teaching employment again. Good riddance or a waste of outstanding teachers?

Dr Gill Reed


Willesden high school

Doyle Gardens, London NW10

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