Letter: Negative portrayal angers disadvantaged school pupils

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The Independent Online
Sir: I read with interest the account of the recent Ofsted report which judged Dyke House school, Hartlepool as 'causing concern'. As manager of Cleveland Compact, I have worked with the school since December 1989 and would support the report's view that Dyke House staff are hard-working and sensitive to the problems facing pupils.

Dyke House school has been involved in Cleveland Compact since the summer of 1989 and has made great progress in developing the partnership between itself, industry and the wider community to enhance the delivery of the curriculum. Much of the work focuses on preparing young people for the challenges they will meet as they leave school and enter education, training or employment. These activities are delivered through the curriculum and make use of good links with

industry.

A recent example was the maths department working with representatives from ICI, Royal Mail and Northern Electric to deliver lessons preparing young people for the annual round of aptitude testing. In addition, a programme of support is in place for those young people who, often understandably, lack motivation and are failing to fulfil their potential. When young people are identified as needing additional support, 'mentors' - volunteers from the local community - are called upon to work on an individual basis with pupils.

Mentoring has proved to be an effective way of motivating young people, and the pilot scheme developed at Dyke House school has become a model for the development of mentoring on a national basis.

Another project that has been piloted at Dyke House school and now extended to more schools within Cleveland county is student tutoring. Former pupils from Dyke House school, currently students at Hartlepool Sixth Form College, worked as tutors under the supervision and direction of Dyke House teachers, on a weekly basis over the past two terms.

They worked in small groups on projects and also on an individual basis with pupils. Both pupils and students benefited from this project. Pupils were able to learn what it is like to be a student in further education, and students were able to develop their social, organisational and communication skills. The feedback from everyone involved has been excellent. Student tutoring has been extended to other schools and colleges as a result.

The above examples are typical of Dyke House school's positive attitude to seeking alternative ways of teaching and motivating what is admittedly a group of young people with more than their fair share of disadvantages. Surely, it is a 'cause for concern' that these positive aspects of the work of Dyke House have not been included in your article?

Yours faithfully,

CHERYL OATWAY

Compact Manager

Cleveland Compact

Middlesbrough, Cleveland

28 May

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