Special attention takes time and money

31st March 2006 at 01:00
Andrea Berkeley is a pioneer in personalised learning. The head of Preston Manor high, north London, looked at how the school could better meet pupils' needs six years ago, before the phrase had been coined. "Instead of saying in the traditional way, 'This is the curriculum and this is what the school offers,' we try to think of it the other way round: 'What does this pupil need?'" she said.

Today the school runs intensive literacy sessions in small groups for all pupils up to age 16. Mentors tutor underachieving pupils and there is help for the gifted and talented, who can sit GCSEs early and get the chance to sample Latin and philosophy classes and drama and writing workshops.

Much depends on the goodwill of staff who are prepared to put in extra time because they believe in what they are doing. But it is expensive. To run the small-group literacy sessions the school has to employ two extra full-time teachers. Mrs Berkeley said the extra pound;100,000 she is likely to receive from Gordon Brown will make a big difference.

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