A new “gold club” of schools should be established to stretch the brightest pupils and ensure they aim high for A* or A grade passes at GCSE, a blueprint for education published by London Mayor Boris Johnson declared today.
The report unashamedly uses the theme of this summer's Olympics by asserting that the capital's education system should be “going for gold”.
It also sees as a main aim pushing “middle tier” pupils “to go beyond C grade passes” - a theme likely to be snapped up by ministers in the Department for Education.
Education Secretary Michael Gove is anxious to get away from the focus on C grade passes - caused by schools be rated in exam league table by the percentage of pupils obtaining five A* to C grade passes in English and maths.
As a consequence, teachers often breathe a sigh of relief when a pupil achieves a C grade standard in English and then go on to try and bolster their performance in maths - when they could be stretched to achieve a higher English grade pass, MPs on the Commons education select committee heard last night.
“Gold Club” status would be available to any schools “bucking the trend”, the report commissioned by Mr Johnson says, but would particularly target those serving disadvantaged areas that have above average national performance in exams.
The report also revealed that white pupils are most likely to play truant from school in London - while those from afro-Caribbean backgrounds are three times more likely to be excluded from school.
It recommends introducing a “London curriculum” so schools can take advantage of visiting famous landmarks for history lessons and great technological achievements like the Emirates Cable Car and Crossrail to further their understanding of science and maths.
“Throughout the course of this inquiry we have also heard a common lament that children barely leave their estate or know their city,” the report team, headed by Dr Tony Sewell, said.
“A large proportion of young Londoners are missing out on a wealth of opportunity around them - for example 46 per cent pf young Londoners say they rarely or never go to cultural events, concerts, plays, musicals or art galleries.”