St Hugh's RC school, Liverpool

10th March 2000 at 00:00
Inspectors insist that poverty is an excuse. Call for extra funding for schools in deprived areas undermines Education Secretary's hardline ultimatum.

St Hugh's RC school Liverpool

Number of pupils: 212

Percentage on free school meals: 68 per cent

Results: (key stage 2) level 4 and above - 61 per cent in English, 61 per cent in maths, and 74 per cent in science

PATRICIA DEUS, 49, has been head of St Hugh's primary for nine years. She attributes the school's success to the quality of teaching, high expectations and an excellent behaviour policy.

"It's not easy. It's particularly hard for staff because they can be drained emotionally dealing with very troubled children.

"We're in an old Twenties building with pupils from troubled backgrounds who live in areas of high unemployment. To be honest the Wavertree area is bleak...

"But w have been an improving school for many years. One key issue is the need to get across to the value of education. In some homes where there has been long-term unemployment the value of education has lost its meaning.

"We don't just concentrate on exam results. A child cannot work if he is hungry or upset. I'd like to see more input from welfare education officers sooner. I'd like to introduce breakfast and homework clubs. I know if we can get into families coping with some difficult social problems when the children are very young we can turn those families around.

"We have a strong, collective approach in school which includes pupils, we know how to help them to improve. We celebrate achievement in school, we have a rewards policy with certificates and trips away. We want the community and parents to be proud of their children and their school."

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