THE FATE OF Islington's education service was sealed when Prime Minister Tony Blair rejected its schools in favour of the London Oratory across town in Hammersmith.
Its pupils' record of low achievement may seem incongruous in a borough which has earned a reputation as one of the capital's trendiest places to live.
But beyond the middle-class oasis of its Upper Street area, with its endless restaurants and shops full of candles and inflatable armchairs, lies a population with more than its share of poverty, crime, drug-dependency, and social exclusion.
Nearly a third of its primary pupils move on to out-of-borough secondary schools and most of these are among the highest-achievers.
This flight of talent is generally acknowledged to have contributed to the fact that only 27.4 per cent of Islington's GCSE pupils achieve five grade Cs or above - just over half the national average.
Half of the borough's school children are entitled to free school meals.
Nevertheless, a damning report issued by the Office for Standards in Education in May concluded that Islington was failing to fulfil its statutory duties.
The schools service was described as expensive and inadequate and the authority was criticised for failing to raise standards or properly to
monitor the performance of schools and heads.
Three secondary schools and four primaries were described as "failing", with a further seven primaries having "serious weaknesses".