Governors, teachers and dinner ladies, too

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The Independent Online
Chris Lindop, head of the Lawrence Weston School in Bristol, had made enormous efforts to raise expectations in a school where many children arrived with very low attainment in maths and reading. Exam results remained obstinately low, so he decided to adopt some accelerated learning approaches.

First all the adults - from governors to dinner staff - did training in raising self-confidence and self-esteem. "If the staff don't believe that they can deliver the goods, then the pupils won't," Mr Lindop says.

Two years ago, only 6 per cent of GCSE students gained five A to C grades; the year after that, it went up to 17 per cent; last summer to 23 per cent. "Next year we are aiming for 30 per cent. Our long-term target, set by the staff not me, is 50 per cent."

Teachers are beginning to deliver lessons in the way pupils learn best, using accelerated learning techniques. "It's all about ambition and using the skills many teachers already have in a more systematic way," Mr Lindop says.

"I am already hearing pupils talking about their work in the corridors in an entirely new way. If we used this approach with the very brightest pupils, I think they could fly to the moon."