Phoenix rises after spell on failing list

7th February 1997 at 00:00
Phoenix High in the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham has been taken off the failing schools list.

Sweeping changes introduced three years ago have seen dramatic improvements in exam results and the number of children selecting it as their first-choice school.

A code of expectation and a code of conduct lay down rules for staff and students on teaching, learning and behaviour while homework has become a regular feature. Every lesson is subject to detailed planning and there is supported monitoring of staff.

Inspectors who in 1994 found aggressive pupil behaviour and management problems now say that Phoenix is "providing an appropriate education and no longer requires special measures".

William Atkinson, brought in as headteacher in 1995, said: "This is tremendous news. Everyone - local authority officers, governors, teachers and students - has given their full commitment to putting this school back on track.

"It has been a real local partnership and it has rekindled the enthusiasm of the local community which has been reflected in the number of children putting Phoenix down as their first choice."

In January 1995 when Phoenix was still known as Hammersmith School, it was the first-choice school of just 44 children. A year later that had increased to 84 and 135 pupils actually started in September.

Three months ago the number of children who cited it as their first choice had risen to 135.

Exam performance at GCSE has also shown major improvements. It was still well below the national average for pupils gaining five or more GCSE grades A to C (44.5 per cent) last year but increased from 5.4 per cent in 1995 to 14. 3 per cent.

The percentage of children gaining five or more GCSEs grades A to G rose from 51 per cent in 1995 to 84 per cent (86 per cent national average ) while that of pupils gaining one or more GCSEs grades A to G went up from 68 per cent to 92 per cent (92 per cent).

"We decided that the best way to move the school forward was by improving the teaching and learning in school to give children a reason to come to school, " said Mr Atkinson.

"Although we had to work on a very broad front, we were aware of the paramount need to improve teaching and learning."

The intake at the school, given its previous reputation, has included a high proportion of disadvantaged children . The 700-pupil school now has 593 students aged 11 to 16. Almost seven out of every 10 pupils at the school are eligible for free school meals while boys outnumber girls two to one.

Mr Atkinson is obviously delighted at the school coming off special measures but said: "This is no excuse for complacency. There is still a long way to go."

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