High turnover hurts whole class

18th August 2006 at 01:00
I write regarding the problems caused by pupils moving from one school to another and particularly the effect they have on their classmates ("Mobility masks pupils' problems", TES, August 4).

The Association of London Government has sponsored research into problems associated with high rates of mobility at 67 primary and secondary schools covering 23 London boroughs.

In its report, published in June 2005, several heads said pupil mobility affected the achievement of every child in school. One head said that his students did not have the same opportunities as pupils in most other schools as they were constantly affected by a stream of new pupils joining their classes.

The most damning judgment on high mobility came from Mike Tomlinson, former chief inspector of schools, in a submission to the House of Commons education select committee in June 1999.

He said: "High mobility is one of the greatest problems, if not the greatest problem, that any school can face."

The Warwick university study looks at mobility in 59 primary schools in Lambeth and essentially tries to reduce the importance of mobility as a factor contributing towards low achievement.

Of the 779 mobile pupils in the research (pupils who enter a school between standard entry time), 250 came from abroad. The extra problems these children bring to the school are lack of English and even lack of previous schooling, plus many other social problems.

Apart from the ALG study, all other discussions concentrate on the effect high mobility has on the achievement of mobile pupils.

Let us for once express concern about the effect of high mobility has on the educational achievement on the rest of the pupil population. Do they get the quality of education they are entitled to?

Solveig Stone

Councillor London Borough of Hillingdon

25 Hawtrey Drive

Ruislip, London

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