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Upbeat BAT

My school is to be sponsored by BAT Industries plc for the project of having acquired, in a highly competitive bidding round, technology college status (TES, June 14). This was at the third attempt since 1994.

In the UK, BAT Industries plc is the parent company of Allied Dunbar Associates and Eagle Star Insurance.

To be eligible for consideration, a school has to have a pledge of at least Pounds 100,000 of sponsorship. The sponsor(s) isare entitled to up to four seats on the governing body. These four seats are matched by an additional four seats filled by nominees in the name of the foundation of the school, in our case, the Church of England.

The governors have been scrupulous in considering the offer made by BAT Industries plc, and they voted unanimously in favour of accepting for the following reasons: * The enhancements to the curriculum, the improvements to the site and the increased staffing will collectively assist in raising our young people's achievement.

* A formal business-education partnership can but enhance the educational opportunities of our young people.

* The existing governors are satisfied through the available evidence that the knowledge and expertise of the new governors will serve to inform not influence the management or the curriculum content of the school.

Our school is situated in the second most deprived area of the country (according to the 1995 Index of Local Conditions). Almost 70 per cent of our pupils are entitled to free meals and just one in seven families has an adult earner in full employment. Last summer, 24 per cent of the teaching group for Year 11 achieved 5-plus grades A-C at GCSE, yet only 8 per cent of that cohort had a reading age of 11 and above on entry in Year 7.

We aim to create a centre of learning par excellence: this we shall be able to do with the continued hard work by a dedicated team and the enhanced provision.

The gospel teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ form the basis of our mission statement where we say that we are committed to providing a quality learning experience for all our pupils. I am glad that my pupils and staff are to be the beneficiaries of a philanthropic gesture from private industry: it can only better their lot and society's.

WDC Parmley Headteacher The Archbishop Michael Ramsey School Farmers Road Camberwell London SE5

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