Teacher wins first ever bet on exam grades

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The Independent Online

A deputy head was celebrating a win of £1000 last night after he gambled £100 on his pupils improving their GCSE results.

A deputy head was celebrating a win of £1000 last night after he gambled £100 on his pupils improving their GCSE results.

Tim McCarthy, deputy head of Avondale High School in Stockport, Greater Manchester, bet 10-1 that 30 per cent of his pupils would achieve five A* to C grades this year, compared with 20 per cent last year. Yesterday, he found the target had been reached by 32 per cent.

Mr McCarthy, who likes an occasional flutter on the horses, said: "I'm cock-a-hoop. We have a new senior team at the school and we are trying to create a culture of academic success.

"I originally said I'd buy the staff a drink if we got 30 per cent. When I realised that would cost about £200, I wrote a joke letter to William Hill, asking for the odds to see if that would be cheaper." Now staff and pupils will get their drink and the rest of the money will go to charity. William Hill said yesterday that it was the first time a teacher had placed such a bet. "I expect we'll be inundated next year," a spokeswoman said.

Pupils throughout the country were celebrating yesterday. At Colchester County High School for Girls in Essex, the identical twins Nicola and Suzannah Robertson achieved identical grades in identical GCSE subjects - four A*s and six As. Another pair of identical twins at the same school, Bahar and Negar Mirshekar-Syahkal got eight A* and two A grades each, in slightly different subjects.

At the nearby Philip Morant comprehensive school, triplets Helen, Laura and Gareth Tye scored 13 A*s and 12 As between them. In Nottingham, identical twins Jonathan and Jeremy Lewis who attend Trinity Roman Catholic comprehensive, obtained 12 A*s each.

In The Independent's shap-shot survey of high-performing grammar and comprehensive schools, two city technology colleges vied with each other for the top slot.

At Thomas Telford School in Telford, Shropshire, 99.4 per cent of pupils scored five or more A* to C grades. The school's hopes of becoming the first comprehensive to notch up 100 per cent were dashed when one pupil failed to reach the threshold of five top grades. At Emmanuel College, Gateshead, the percentage was 99.

Kevin Satchwell, the head, said much of the success was due to the school having operated under a system of performance related pay for 10 years. "I expect more of them but they get more in terms of financial reward and professional development. They don't teach more than four days a week... I pay them for taking after-school activities... If other schools had these conditions, we would have more schools doing well."

Many top comprehensives select some of their pupils. At the London Oratory, which two of the Prime Minister's sons attend and which interviews pupils for admission, 93 per cent of pupils got five A* to C grades, the same as last year.

The survey, which is not definitive, shows that 41 of the 164 grammar schools - one in four - scores 100 per cent for the proportion of pupils getting five A* to C grades, though they select all of their pupils.

Meanwhile, some 2000 pupils will be offered shares according to their GCSE grades by Totalise, a company set up by teachers offering internet services. To qualify, they must register on the company's website.