My sympathy goes out to the parents, says head

JOHN HUDSON, an Islington headmaster, has great sympathy for parents who feel forced to turn their backs on state education in the borough.

He has reversed the slide in standards at Holloway School, the north London comprehensive rejected by Claudia Corbyn, who separated from her husband, Jeremy Corbyn - the left-wing MP for Islington North - after choosing to send their son to a high-performing grammar school.

Inspectors are due to arrive at Holloway in July and are expected to confirm that the 700-strong boys' school will come off the failing list after three years of "special measures".

Mr Hudson's aim is to turn the school into one that will appeal to parents from across the whole community.

Nineteen per cent of boys left with five or more good GCSEs last year. But the results are improving quickly: in 1995, the figure was 10 per cent; a decade ago, it was 2 per cent.

Holloway School occupies a mixture of Victorian, 1950s and 1960s buildings in Lower Holloway, surrounded by affluent neighbourhoods. But 60 per cent of its pupils have some form of special needs and about one-third need help with languages.

Mr Hudson, who took over at the school in 1997, said: "I have great sympathy for parents. It's very important that children have the best possible opportunity and it's an important responsibility for parents.

"Before league tables started and people were not quite so aware of the differences there were more people locally coming to schools such as this. We can do it again; we can demonstrate that we are a good school."

Mr Hudson has praise for the local authority official assigned to advise the school as part of its special measures. Islington is also investing pounds 4m in a project to renovate the site.

"What we need to do is make sure we have a school here with teachers who are good enough to meet the challenge. There are challenges but we have staff who are prepared to tackle those challenges. We have people who leave very late and get in phenomenally early.

"The lovely thing, however, is that it is a very multicultural school and children get on together. It's a huge strength because that's what life in the inner city is like. Islington seems to be there for people to have a go at and that's desperately unfortunate."

A mile and a half away, Highbury Fields School is the borough's best-performing secondary. More than a third of the 140 girls who join each year have a reading age of nine or younger, yet 43 per cent left with five or more good GCSEs last year, a whisker below the national average of 44.4 per cent. Ann Mullins, the school's head, has seen the figure rise from 25 per cent when she took over five years ago.

Some girls get straight As, and one sixth former is looking forward to a place studying medicine at Oxford in the autumn.

The 1920s building is bright, well-maintained, and has been extended, most recently only two years ago. The green-tiled corridors are lined with posters, children's work and ranks of traditional school photographs, dating back to 1919.

Highbury Fields is surrounded by grand brick and stucco terraces and is a short walk from the borough's fashionable heart. Girls are drawn from no more than a mile away, but the school's catchment area covers council estates and areas of high deprivation.

"We have to make the most positive and successful way forward we can ..." said Mrs Mullins. "Eggs are going to be broken in Islington. From the schools' point of view, it's important that they manage to make a decent omelette."

News
i100
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial Property

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: KENT MARKET TOWN - An exciting new role has ar...

Financial Accountants, Cardiff, £250 p/day

£180 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Financial Accountants - Key Banking...

Regulatory Reporting-MI-Bank-Cardiff-£300/day

£200 - £500 per day + competitive: Orgtel: I am currently working on a large p...

Recruitment Consultant - Bristol - Computer Futures - £18-25k

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices