Letter: Private school role

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Every year with the publication of primary school league tables, we read about the "best schools in the country" ("The best school in England", 8 December). Undoubtedly the schools with the highest results are good schools. But are we really to believe that the only difference between high-achieving schools and others is the "expectations" of the teachers?

In schools each year some children make extraordinary progress; children with learning difficulties, children who cannot get to sleep at night because they sleep in overcrowded rooms or on the floor, children who arrive without breakfast or who exist on a poor diet, some who are refugees from war-torn countries. But who knows of their efforts, or recognises the skill and dedication of their teachers?

The league tables are not only misleading; they are destructive. What does being named as "one of the bottom 10 primary schools in the country" do to the morale of the pupils and parents of the school? How do head teachers appoint good staff for such schools? How do they attract the pupils who will help to raise standards? How many good teachers leave and look for jobs in the "best schools"?

If teacher expectations are the "simple secret" to success, then we should carry out a simple experiment. The staff from the "best" school could change places with those from one of the "worst," and within time positions will be reversed. Anyone prepared to test the hypothesis?

JANE FULFORD

Head Teacher

Winton Primary School

London N1

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