ANN Enefer was sceptical about enticing some of the tougher boys in Tilbury to attend school on Saturdays.
Mrs Enefer, headteacher at St Mary's RC primary, said: "When children are in the same class all the time and are badly behaved, they see it as a reputation they have to live up to. But it wasn't a problem here. They settled down, worked hard and got on well together."
The classes were part of a national initiative to provide extra tuition in English and maths for children who were just below level 4. At St Mary's, six pupils were picked to come in on Saturdays, along with pupils from Tilbury Manor junior, Jack Lobley primary and Orsett CofE primary.
Mrs Enefer said: "A lot of the other children were upset because they wanted to come. Parents were phoning up the authority complaining that their children had not been chosen.
"The kids thought it was really cool. I don't know whether it was because they had different teachers, were in a different school or the fact that they had been chosen.
"I think it made a big difference that they knew someone was bothering to put this on for them.
"It is amazing what a teacher can do with a small group in just two hours.
Parents told us their children really enjoyed it. And they all kept coming even when it was nice weather."
Seven schools in Thurrock ran Saturday classes. Across the borough 257 children attended, around 15 per cent of the children taking tests this year.