Turnover cushioning

16th October 1998 at 01:00
Janet Dobson's article (TES, October 2) makes crucial points about the impact of high-pupil turnover. But while turnover rate is only one of many key factors that league tables do not - some would say, cannot - reflect, it is altogether more serious that funding formulas also ignore it.

Research just completed for the Association of London Government proves conclusively that schools in the capital have much greater problems caused by pupil movement and turnover than elsewhere.

The London Research Centre listed the 108 English local authorities in order of pupil turnover rates. The first table, covering children aged five to nine, shows London authorities occupying 30 of the top 31 positions (Manchester creeps into fourth spot); while for 10 to 15-year-olds London authorities occupy 29 of the first 30 places (Manchester, in sixth place this time, prevents a clean sweep).

As Janet Dobson points out, much of the movement involves children from ethnic-minority backgrounds. It is ironic therefore that currently the Government is considering an option to remove "country of origin" as a factor from the Revenue Support Grant funding formula - a move which would hit London authorities extremely hard. If this goes ahead, then a new factor of pupil turnover would at least go some way towards cushioning the impact for the London boroughs.

Gavin Moore. Chair of education. Association of London Government. 36 Old Queen Street. London SW1H

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