Just how can disadvantage be measured?

22nd March 1996 at 00:00
I am keen to discover how chief inspector Chris Woodhead is going to build a deprivation factor into Office for Standards in Education inspections.

I am a headteacher in a very socially disadvantaged area, where many children come to school hungry, tired and dirty from living in conditions where some parents are inadequate and the social services intervention is high.

Children living in poverty with inadequate role models, in conditions not conducive to high standards, are unable to function in school. Special needs children are often also the same children, and this does have an effect on their learning. If a school has very high numbers of these children, it affects their results and their standards.

How is Chris Woodhead going to measure these standards? So often the children who are underachieving are so far behind due to lateness, absenteeism and a general lack of support from their families who feel that education is not a high priority.

It is also a major fact that at my school, many, many hours are spent on the telephone or attending meetings about child protection issues, non-accidental injuries or inter-agency support.

I am keeping a record, and during 11 weeks in school which actually represented 51 school days from November 1995 until mid-February 1996, my school spent a total of 42 hours in discussion with social services. Approximately one-third of my school population is on the SEN register. We are spending massive amounts of money on special needs. How will this be measured? What will OFSTED say about my school when it visits?

CAROL LYNDON Headteacher Kings Rise community primary school Hornsey Road Kingstanding Birmingham

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