Well-behaved pupils earn executive perks

14th December 2007 at 00:00
One of the first of New Labour's trust schools is giving well-behaved pupils a "platinum award" card that gives them access to an executive games room.

Selly Oak School in Birmingham is one of 30 of the new trust schools, which are owned and managed by charitable trusts and have external partners that can include businesses.

It is giving its best-behaved pupils a different uniform in maroon and gold, and a club card that allows access to a room where they can play Nintendo Wii, Xbox consoles and other games.

Such special treatment for the elect may sound like an airline business-class lounge, but the headteacher says the school is anything but elitist.

Selly Oak's 410 pupils all have special needs and its trust partners are not high-flying City stock-broking firms but the Midlands Co-operative Society, which will be joined this month by the school's parents' association.

"It's community-based. It's proper old-fashioned socialism in action," said Graham Ridley, the head. "Socialism doesn't mean you can't earn rewards."

This week, the Government announced that it had met its target of approving 300 schools for trust status by the end of this year.

Selly Oak was given a pound;10,000 government grant to help speed it through the process to become a trust school. It consulted with the community in June, formally applied in July and was granted trust status only two months later.

The platinum incentives scheme is supported by the Co-op and the parents' association, which will contribute about pound;5,000 a year when it becomes a trust partner.

One pupil who is not a member is Dorinda Reynolds, the 15-year-old daughter of Mike Reynolds, chair of the school's parent teacher association. Mr Reynolds said that children with autism or ADHD needed a structured environment in which to work.

He said: "For the first couple of years, Dorinda was virtually excluded from the playground - her behaviour was so unacceptable."

But in the past few terms she had been getting good conduct marks. "We hope she can become a platinum girl," Mr Reynolds said.

The majority of the school's pupils who are not members of the platinum award club can see the games from outside, reminding them of what they are missing.

When The TES visited the games room, Julia Henwood, 14, was playing an athletics and gymnastics game on a PlayStation console.

"Some children don't have passes and aren't allowed to go into the games room," she said.

"You have to be good, work hard and behave and everything to get a pass. I've been well-behaved for a long while."

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