Our Fresh Start may yet be sweet

26th May 2000 at 01:00
IN response to "Fresh Start scheme turns sour"(TES, May 12), we should be mindful that not all that is sour is unpalatable.

Here in East Brighton College of Media Arts, it's more about time to settle, develop and move forward. As acting principal for some three weeks, my first-hand and early impressions provide me with the confidence to state that the college will succeed.

Currently, there is no doubt that there is still a great deal to achieve to meet our own agenda, and those set by the Department for Education and Employment and the Office for Standards in Education.

No one here is now unaware of the massive school improvement programme that this school community, under at least three re-brands, has inherited.

However, it is my view that the staff are stunningly resilient (and they need to be!); new teachers are refreshingly realistic and committed; the governors are informed and supportive, and the parents and the community are fiercely loyal.

Last Friday, I took part in one of the best "final" days for Year 11 pupils that I could have wished for - splendid staffpupil relationships, a good-humoured celebratory end-of-year assembly shared with more than a dozen very proud parents, and a staff v pupil softball match where we were suitably trounced, but with humour and good grace.

There is still much to achieve, including the need to raise standards and expectations across many areas. For example, some 80 pupils have achieved 100 per cent attendance through the last half-term, although overall attendance remains depressingly low.

But the support - including real help from local schools - from the local education authority, from the Education Action Zone and community groups, makes the eventual outcome transparent: this school will survive because its wider community wills it. Standards must improve, as must confidence.

I look forward, later in the autumn term, to being able to invite you to share with us the undoubted improvements, along with the inherent problems. At some later date it will be important to examine the Fresh Start initiative - in the meantime, we'll welcome your support.

Clive Frost

Acting principal

East Brighton College of Media Arts

Wilson Avenue

Brighton


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