Need to be better, not bigger;Letters;News amp; opinion

5th November 1999 at 00:00
YOUR article ("Size does matter in the classroom", October 15) draws attention to the variation in results achieved by schools in local education authorities with similar levels of eligibility for free school meals.

These comparisons are inevitable, and serve to reinforce what many of us know from other data - that standards are too low and must be raised. You have, however, by referring to the authorities' size, introduced probably the least significant factor in their performance.

If size were significant, one might have expected these unitaries to have been performing well when they were separated from their large LEAs. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

The only conclusions related to size, therefore, are that when part of a large authority, the poor performance of these areas (often cities) was masked, and second, that it is the scale of the problems rather than the size of the LEA which is significant.

The creation of these unitaries has made the recognition of poor performance unavoidable. Those of us working in unitary authorities where standards are too low are focused on being better not bigger!

John Gaskin

City education officer

Portsmouth City Council

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