Our pursuit of academic rigour is rigorous

4th March 2011 at 00:00

Your article last week implied, on the basis of current English Baccalaureate pass rates, that Ark schools and other chain academies do not meet Government standards for academic education ("Gove's favoured academies are failing to meet his own standards", 25 February).

Of our five academies with GCSE-age pupils in 2010, two had only been Ark schools for nine months when pupils sat the 2010 exams. With considerable effort, both schools raised GCSE attainment, but they could hardly have required Year 11 pupils to change subjects halfway through their courses. At Globe Academy in south London, pupils had already made their GCSE choices when we took over in 2008. So only two of our schools have GCSE results that reflect choices made since Ark Schools took over.

In all our schools the curriculum is gradually being overhauled to bring in more academic substance for all pupils. Take-up of history GCSE has increased from an average of 15 per cent in each school's first year as an academy to 23 per cent across the network. In geography it has risen from 15 per cent to 22 per cent.

We are neither surprised nor apologetic about the EBac results. They demonstrate what we already knew - that there is no quick fix in sustainably raising standards or attainment. What is important is that that all our schools are moving fast in the right direction.

Amanda Spielman, Research and development director, Ark Schools.

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