I am writing to record my concerns about the developing perception, which some ministers seem to share, that academic "review days" are not a legitimate use of a school day.
I do not believe any real investigation has been undertaken to prove these days are a waste of time. Indeed, I am sure the evidence in most "outstanding" Ofsted reports will record that the provision of information and guidance is vital to a school's success in raising standards.
Schools such as Bitterne Park can clearly map their journey to success alongside the introduction of "review" days and their subsequent fine- tuning into a rigorous one-to-one analysis of progress, expectations and aspirations, target-setting with an ECM (Every Child Matters), including individualised learning health checks.
To guarantee this quality of advice is not easy, yet our Ofsted Inspection confirmed it as an "outstanding" aspect of our school. We now find parents are increasingly taking up invitations to join one-to-ones with their child: 98 per cent of our 1,365 young people take part in our review days. Compare this with the alternative after-school parents evenings, where attendance is 60 per cent if one is lucky, and which are least likely to attract the students and families most in need of advice and guidance. It is not compulsory to attend after-school advice events but it can be if it takes place during the school day.
This system is valued by all involved at Bitterne Park School. Flexibility, innovation, imagination and creativity are at the heart of moving the school from 40 per cent to the 75 per cent-plus A*-Cs that we will reach this year (71 per cent in 2007). We would urge ministers not to return to the rules and regulations that limit what we know can and does work.
Susan Trigger, Headteacher, Bitterne Park School, Southampton.