READERS would have gained the impression that your article headlined "Gap widens between rich and poor pupils" (TES, October 8) was concerned predominantly with key stage 2 tests and GCSE results rather than reporting on the wider inspection findings in relation to three local education authorities - Haringey, Middlesbrough and Newcastle.
Middlesbrough has faced some significant challenges since gaining unitary status in 1996 and has consistently focused on "raising and celebrating achievement" as a priority. The inspectors acknowledge that the authority "is pursuing the right issues" and is providing many effective services including support in such areas as governing bodies, literacy, numeracy, behaviour, financial and personnel services, child protection, property management and, not least, special measures. Sadly, these and other positive features don't seem to warrant mention in an article seemingly preoccupied with social deprivation than with wider inspection findings.
Incidentally, returning to performance, it would be less misleading if accurate figures were printed. Certainly in the case of Middlesbrough we achieved our best ever results in 1999. Increases at key stage 2 in the percentages getting Level 4 or higher were: English up 6 per cent; maths up 14 per cent; science up 10 per cent.
Dr Cheryle Berry
Corporate director of education and leisure
Editor writes: Our apologies to Middlesbrough schools for publishing incorrect 1998 test scores