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RESULTS NOT ABOUT MONEY, SAYS BLUNKETT

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Britain's worst 500 secondary schools cannot blame poverty for failure, according to evidence to be published this ...
Britain's worst 500 secondary schools cannot blame poverty for failure, according to evidence to be published this week, reported The Sunday Telegraph (p4).

Education secretary David Blunkett will tell teachers there is no clear link between the number of children receiving free school meals - the traditional benchmark of poverty - and a school's GCSE performance. Government statistics show that some schools with a high

proportion of pupils receiving free meals are achieving GCSE results in line with, or above, the national average.

By contrast, other schools with few pupils receiving free meals are performing dismlly year after year. There is also a wide variation in the achievements of schools where the number of pupils on free meals is almost identical.

Mr Blunkett will release the findings at an NUT conference in London on the future of secondary education. He will give warning that he has lost patience with such excuses and announce measures to raise achievement at the country's worst schools.

His main target will be schools where fewer than 25% of pupils gain five GCSEs at grade C or above, the equivalent of the old O-level. Last year year there were 530 such schools, approximately one in seven of all secondaries. Each will be set targets and deadlines for

improvements, and there will be a more ruthless approach to removing poor teachers.

Some schools will be 'twinned' with successful neighboiurs - effectively meaning that the head of the other school will take over. Where progress is still too slow, schools will be closed and reopened under new management.

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