No one's ever regretted coming here

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JAYNE BECKETT, 17, never regrets deciding to stay on at school to do her A-levels. Now at the end of the lower sixth at Walmer School in Deal, Kent, she is doing A-levels in English, business studies, media studies and general studies, hoping for a place at university to study law next year.

She's one of 90 students at the secondary modern's small but growing sixth form, which was set up four years ago in response to demand from parents and students. Jayne, who got five As, two Bs and two Cs at GCSE at the school, says: "I was seriously considering going to a grammar school sixth form or to college, but my mum and dad were absolutely right. They said `Stay at school', because I knew the teachers and would be in a familiar environment. I'm quite a self-motivated person, but everyone needs a little extra push under the school regime. None of my family has ever been to university: my dad is a roofing and building contractor. The school really encourages it, though.

"No one has regretted coming here. People were worried because all their friends were off to college. Now they realise that half of them have dropped out," she says.

The school offers a dozen A-levels, and students gain an average 13.5 points - equivalent to a B and a C. That, says Roger Cross, the headteacher, is a good result for a school that loses the county's academic high-flyers to the grammar schools.

"Having a sixth form is a motivator for the youngsters. We require five or more higher grades. We offer subjects that students here are succeeding in at GCSE. They aren't all subjects you can do at the grammar school, so we offer an alternative," he believes.