Sunday, 13 November 2011

Henrietta Barnet named State School of the Year

Congratulations to Henrietta Barnet on being named state school of the year.

The school this year celebrates its centenary and I am pleased that the achievements of the staff and pupils has been recognised in this way. The school has got a track record of outstanding results and along with St Michaels and QE Boys, often graces the very top of the league tables for exam results. Most Boroughs don't have a single school which performs as highly as these three, so it is should be a source of great pride for us all to have three such high performing schools. I'm a great believer in horses for courses and for high achievers such schools provide a fantastic education.

I was emailed by a reader who suggested I may have a comment on the success of selective schools in Barnet. I have. I'm a great believer in the old adage, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. These schools clearly are anything but broken. Let's concentrate our efforts on fixing those where there are problems. I think that the London Academy is a shining testament to what can be done with a school, given proper funding, resources and good leadership. There are arguments that under achieving pupils need to be mixed with high achievers to succeed. As someone who spent most of my school years under achieving, I believe the opposite to be true. I believe under achievers need special help and attention. As someone who is dyslexic with a degree of learning difficulties, I found the comparison between myself and the star pupils humiliating and demoralising. From conversations with parents of average children (often who fail to meet parents expectations), the issue is actually the parents. They place a huge burden of expectation on children. They coach them to pas exams to enter schools where they struggle and then are left dealing with stress of failure. I'm all for having elite schools for the super brainy. Teaching brainy kids who want to succeed is prbably quite an easy gig.Teaching problem kids is far harder and I'd pay the teachers who do this and are good at it 50% more. Then we'd soon see an improvement in standards.


Mrs Angry said...

All very well, but for those three schools to do so well is no real achievement as they cannot in fact be described as local in the sense of intake.Not only are they selective, they take pupils from anywhere, greater London and beyond. It would be impossible for such a school not to perform well with such an intake. A far higher acheivement is by a school like FCH, which is not selective,has a wide intake in terms of ability and reaches the challenge of excellent results all the same. I would like to see the head teacher of these three schools work on sabbatical for a couple of years in one of the failing schools in the borough, and see if they can help to improve education for less advantaged pupils: now that would be a real challenge, and a real acheivement.

Rog T said...

Mrs Angry,

I think being recognised as school of the year or getting such a high exam result is an achievement however you look at it.

I'd be interested to know the criteria for being chosen. I agree that FCHS does a great job, thats why mys on goes there. I just think we have to recognise our local successes.

You obviously didn't get down to the bit in the blog where I said teachers teaching in difficult schools should get 50% more pay.

Mrs Angry said...

All three schools simply take the very highest scoring children. Location is irrelevant, which I feel is wrong. St Michael's, my old school was always selective and highly academic but was a school for local girls: not any more. There may be an argument for such a highly selective school if there is fair provision for the girls - Catholic girls in this case - who have no school to attend locally. As for QE Boys, one of my son's friends who was a pupil there had a class mate who commuted from Peterbro every day with his father! Madness. My son did brilliantly at FCH and my daughter is at sixth form there now: unfortunately there was no equivalent for younger girls. Selective schools come at a high cost for those children who are not able to gain a place at such schools.