Picking up the pieces

11th April 2003 at 01:00
It's not easy when top pupils suddenly move schools, writes Rachel Howard

Our key stage 1 teacher, Kate, is gutted. She's gone from confident to demoralised in a few weeks. A few dead cert level 2s are worth their weight in gold in our school, and mock SATs had produced a percentage of level 2s that more than met our modest target of 60 per cent.

Then, just at the crucial moment, a spate of euphemistically named "turbulence" came, and off they went. It started with George. He'd moved in halfway through the autumn term. Kate was surprised to find he had attended an independent school - not common in our area. She assumed his mum was down on her luck. Not the case. We had been a stop-gap while mum looked for a new house and a suitable substitute school. She found it, so George was off.

Soon after, it was Annette. No problem with the school, said her mum, but Annette had got friendly with some girls at Sunday school and wanted to join them. It suited mum as it was nearer her work. Annette's new teacher commented to Kate that she must have been sorry to lose her. She didn't know the half of it.

Louise's move was totally unexpected. One morning her mother announced that Louise would not be there the next day. We find that is usually the way with social housing. No chance for preparation or for goodbyes.

The final straw was the twins. Due to be rehoused, Kate held her breath as their mum went to view the accommodation offered - on the other side of town. She turned the first house down; we crossed our fingers. Would they still be there in May for the national tests? Sadly, no. The second house was fine. Two capable children departing at once was a bitter blow.

In the space of a few weeks, Kate lost 20 per cent of her class, all from the most able group. She already imagines the comments: "Key stage 1 results have taken a dive this year." "And I thought she was a good teacher." "I don't know about keeping him in the juniors there now." No wonder Kate is gutted. She says she's trying hard to put on a brave face, but she really feels like weeping.

Rachel Howard is a governor at an inner-city school in the south-east. She writes under a pseudonym

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