Making the most of a mixed bunch

2nd May 1997 at 01:00
It is evident from your article that the headteacher and staff of Strand Junior School in Grimsby have performed a great service to the community they serve and that their Office for Standards in Education inspection has recognised the added value they provide (TES, April 11).

It should not, however, surprise professionals if the results in national tests do not always reflect the efforts of staff and pupils in schools.

We can only seek to maximise the potential abilities of pupils and this varies from year to year. It is also so much harder for some schools to achieve higher standards than others where the starting point of pupils' attainment is lower than the norm.

Unfortunately, the Article 26 group adds little to the debate by trying to marry two separate tools for bringing about improvements in our schools which, although they overlap, serve very distinct purposes.

Our school, Bethune Park Primary, has such a good reputation for teaching reading that we have attracted non-readers like a magnet. Many of our present eight-, nine- and 10-year-old children have been in this school for less than a year. You can imagine what effect this can have on our results!

However, we welcome children with difficulties and do our best to help them. We also have 23 statemented children, 20 of whom are hearing-impaired. Colleagues will understand the effect language deprivation, caused by profound hearing impairment, has in all subjects. Altogether, 9.5 per cent of our entrants had statements.

Bethune Park was sniped at for receiving an OFSTED "Oscar" but falling short of national averages: we were only 1 per cent short in English, and 5 per cent in mathematics. Science was not mentioned; we exceed the national average by 8 per cent in this subject.

We do not have a national average intake. Our morale is high, however, and we have the will to improve. We shall endeavour to enhance the expectations of a large number of parents.

Our dedicated colleagues run clubs for many activities, including reading and numeracy. Unfortunately, those who would gain most benefit are least likely to attend. We celebrate achievement but we can only work minor miracles.

MAUREEN MATHER

Bethune Park Primary School Kingston-upon-Hull

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