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8 March 2000 ...
8 March 2000

An OFSTED report on effective primary and secondary schools in

disadvantaged areas says there is no single recipe for success.

But the schools which show steady improvement, against the odds,

display some common characteristics. These include:

- strong management;

- good teaching;

- a well-focused curriculum;

- close monitoring and effective personal support for pupils; and

- clear communication with parents.

'Essentially what makes the difference are the clarity, intensity and

persistence of the school's work and the rigour with which it is

scrutinised. At best, all the energy of the school serves the same

end: raising standards,' the report says.

Improving City Schools is part of OFSTED's work on social exclusion

and follows up the influential 1993 report Access and Achievement in

Urban Education.

Its purpose is to identify and illustrate features of success in

effective urban schools, evaluate how these schools engage

potentially disaffected pupils, and raise questions about further

support needed by schools in disadvantaged areas.

Among the challenges which many of the schools have in common are

large numbers of pupils with poor basic skills on entry and high

levels of special educational needs. The most successful schools

give high priority to developing basic skills, but they do this

without compromising on the provision of a full National Curriculum.

Indeed, many of them put particular emphasis on the arts and,

sometimes, on physical education.

In the more effective schools pupils with special educational needs

generally made clear progress as a result of well focused and

consistent teaching. Support for bilingual pupils is usually

impressive too.

Above all there is the common characteristic of high expectations of

what pupils can attain. The reports says: 'There is no deviation

from the demand that pupils give of their best. A culture of hard

work is supported by good relationships and the tracking of progress,

a positive approach to attainment and progress goes hand in hand with

a positive approach to behaviour and attitudes.'

The report says that some of the schools would benefit from more

resources to do the job. Their budgets are only loosely related to

need and there is over-reliance on bidding for short-term grants.

Commenting on the report, which was released today to coincide with

an OFSTED invitation conference on urban schools, Her Majesty's Chief

Inspector, Chris Woodhead, said: 'Nobody, least of all the schools

themselves, is claiming these schools are perfect. But they

illustrate what can be done to improve standards in circumstances

where any progress is hard won. For that achievement they demand our

respect and acknowledgement. But we must also learn from them. The

number of such schools needs to grow rapidly in order to cut the long

tail of underachievement which blights the education service in the

disadvantaged areas of England.'

Estelle Morris Minister for Schools Standards said:

'I welcome the publication of this OFSTED report on effective

schools in urban areas. It recognises that there are a range of

factors, including good leadership and effective teaching, which are

important in turning round failing schools and in succeeding against

the odds.

'We have recognised that such schools need to be more effectively

resourced, both through the new Excellence in Cities Programme and

the substantial extra resources available through the Standards



1. Improving City Schools will be formally published by OFSTED in

Spring 2000. It is part of a small series of publications reporting

on OFSTED's work on social inclusion, in response to the Government's

Social Exclusion Unit's 1998 document Bringing Britain Together.

The report covers schools which are more effective than others in

similarly disadvantaged areas. The definition of disadvantage used is

schools that have more than 35 per cent of pupils on free school


The survey is based on data and schools inspection reports on 804

primary and 178 secondary schools in this category and on visits by

Her Majesty's Inspectors (HMI) to 20 primary and 20 secondary

schools. The primary schools visited had an average free school meals

eligibility of 62 per cent. The secondary schools averaged 57 per

cent. A list of the schools visited, which were mainly in London,

Merseyside and the Midlands, follows.

List of the schools visited



Anglesey Junior Birmingham

Avondale Park Primary Kensington and Chelsea

Banks Road Junior Mixed Infants Liverpool

Bonner Primary Tower Hamlets

CE School of The Resurrection Manchester

Gateway Primary Westminster

Hague Primary Tower Hamlets

High Greave Junior Rotherham

Holy Cross Catholic Primary Wirral

Holy Trinity Catholic Primary Liverpool

Mellers Primary and Nursery Nottingham

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Primary Liverpool

Our Lady of Reconciliation Catholic Primary Liverpool

Sir James Barrie Primary Wandsworth

Sir William Burrough Tower Hamlets

St. Hugh's Catholic Primary Liverpool

St. Stephen's CE Primary Westminster

St. Vincent's Catholic Primary Birmingham

Sudbourne Primary Lambeth

Thomas Gray Junior Sefton


Alsop High School Liverpool

Bordesley Green Girls' Birmingham

Brookfield High Knowsley

Cardinal Wiseman RC Birmingham

Central Foundation Girls' Tower Hamlets

Challney High School for Boys

and Community College Luton

Challney High School for Girls Luton

Deptford Green Lewisham

Haggerston Hackney

Hurlingham and Chelsea Hammersmith and Fulham

Litherland High Sefton

Morpeth Tower Hamlets

Mount Carmel RC Girls' Islington

Mulberry School for Girls Tower Hamlets

Norlington School for Boys Waltham Forest

Ruffwood Knowsley

Sion-Manning RC School for Girls Kensington and Chelsea

Stepney Green Tower Hamlets

Stretford High Trafford

Wright Robinson Sports College Manchester

2. OFSTED is a non-ministerial government department established

under the Education (Schools) Act 1992 to take responsibility for the

inspection of all schools in England. Its staff include Her

Majesty's Inspectors (HMI), who draw on inspection evidence to report

on good practice in schools and on a wide range of educational


Press enquiries 020 7 421 6773/6574/6617

General enquiries 020 7 421 6744

Press Office fax 020 7 421 6522

OFSTED Web site

080952 03

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