Top of the class, but Clifton plays down its success

The irony of school league tables is that only those at the top have the confidence to voice reservations, while those at the bottom jostle to be seen to endorse their value.

High-scoring Clifton Church of England Primary, tucked in a valley near Ashbourne in the Derbyshire Peak District, will not be proclaiming its success from the hilltops.

Despite being one of only 15 to gain 100 per cent in the English, maths and science tests last summer, the school is keen, if anything, to play down their significance. "They are just a part of what we do," says the headteacher, Anne Oliver. "We certainly don't teach to the tests, and they don't tell us anything about the children that we don't already know. We are about getting each child to fulfill their full potential."

Clifton's test scores confirm the findings of inspectors, who two years ago praised its standards in English and maths and noted the high quality of preparation and planning. Mrs Oliver, sitting beneath rows of neatly- labelled box files of curriculum materials in the 150-year-old school's tiny staffroom, agrees long- and medium-term planning is "meticulous". Hard work and commitment from staff and enthusiastic support from parents provide the extra ingredients for success.

Though Clifton is spared many of the challenges faced by the urban primaries further down the league tables, its 88 pupils represent a wide range of abilities. "We've come top this year because each child performed as well as they could, and no one was absent. Next year, it could easily change," Mrs Oliver said.

Parents, she finds, have had little understanding of the tests and tables, but are beginning to become more concerned. "Everyone wants their children to do well but I am wary of too much pressure."

At the other end of the scale, Grange Primary School in Bermondsey, south London, is in no position to challenge the concept of tables.

The new headmaster, David McElroy, describes last year's results - the worst in the country at 8 per cent for English and science and zero per cent for maths - as "entirely unacceptable".

The school has gone back to basics; teaching reading through phonics and testing spelling and tables. It is on course for a 30 per cent improvement in results this year across the board.

Mr McElroy does not offer excuses, though fellow heads gazing down from the highest echelons of the tables might do so for him. Almost 40 per cent of Grange's 221 pupils do not speak English as a first language, and two-thirds qualify for free school meals.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine