How to be a good primary

28th February 2003 at 00:00
I have recently received my copy of chief inspector David Bell's annual report.

As a 21st-century educationist, the first thing I do is start counting and working out percentages. The report begins with a list of 296 particularly successful primary schools.

A closer look at this group shows an outstanding recurrence of the words infant or junior (but note, not infant and junior), CofE or RC. There are no fewer than 205 that fit into one or other of these categories. In fact, 69 per cent of the most successful schools are either single phase or denominational.

However, in my local authority - Sheffield - only 47 per cent of primaries are single phase or denominational. If this number is reasonably representative, it would suggest that being a single phase or denominational school confers a 22 point higher chance (69 per cent minus 47 per cent) of making it into the chief inspector's good books.

In my non-denominational, infant and junior school we can not invoke the Good Lord or a selective process so I turned to the report's "main findings" in the hope of salvation.

There was no mention of this statistical discrepancy and no guidance as to how non-denominational primaries like ours could improve our odds.

A definition of success based on a handful of percentage points in English and maths targets led to these 296 schools being singled out, but the fact that a disproportionate number are single-phase or denomintional doesn't get a mention. Could it be that it raises too many awkward questions?

Jim Marriott

Headteacher Greenhill primary school

Greenhill Main Road


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