Business approach is paying dividends, says head

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The Independent Online

They are seriously into the language of business at Knutsford High School. For the past two years the Cheshire school has, according to the headteacher Kevin Hollins, been "doing a lot of work on targeting".

They are seriously into the language of business at Knutsford High School. For the past two years the Cheshire school has, according to the headteacher Kevin Hollins, been "doing a lot of work on targeting".

The aim, he said, is to motivate students by focusing them on aiming for the "optimum" grades. Such an approach appears to have paid off. The school has produced the best return for some years.

Although the odds were on 55 per cent of students securing five or more A to Cs - a modest prognosis based on the historically accurate results of tests set by the local authority before the children even left primary school - the motivation to "surpass the average projection and reach the optimum" paid off.

Excluding the special school which forms part of the comprehensive, 66 per cent of students secured five or more A to Cs, a 16 per cent improvement on last year and 11 per cent higher than expectations.

The competitive nature of the school's motivational strategy appealed particularly to the boys, said Mr Hollins.

Pass rates of 90 per cent in IT and 73 per cent in English were among the strongest performances for a comprehensive facing heavy competition from the private schools which attract 17 per cent of local children - twice the national average.

Mr Hollins believes the shift from the O level to GCSE system has suited girls best, as their greater levels of application are better suited to its coursework. "If you study syllabi, you also see a shift towards social issues and interpretive work which girls respond to."

Gillian Ashton, with an A*, six As, a B, C and D, attributed the girls' superior performance - a 68.7 per cent A to C pass rate against 59.7 per cent for the boys - to "less messing about in class" and greater maturity.

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