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EDITIONS
Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 00:13 GMT
What makes a top school tick
Head and students
The head with some of her stars - now sixth-formers
A healthy interest in extra-curricular activities is a necessary requirement for pupils at the Coopers' Company and Coborn School in Essex.


Families have to belong to a Christian faith and agree to go along with the Christian ethos of the school

And according to the head teacher, Davina Lloyd, it is one of the main reasons for the school's success.

The comprehensive has always featured highly in national leagues tables for its GCSE and A-level results.

But this year, for the first time, it has warded off competition from grammar and independent schools across the country to take top place in the GCSE/GNVQ results table.

Click here for this school's results

Click here for the main tables

Its pupils achieved a 100% pass rate at grades A* to C.

Last year, with a 96% pass rate, the school was ranked 304th.


We are not an exam factory and we don't focus purely on academia

Dr Davina Lloyd
But Dr Lloyd stresses that her pupils are not academic "bookworms".

Instead, through a combination of self-imposed personal targets, a mentoring system for individual students and a hard-working, experienced teaching staff, Dr Lloyd hopes the school has hit on a formula for success.

She told BBC News Online: "The school is run on a success culture.

"But we are not an exam factory and we don't focus purely on academia.

Enjoyable experience

"We try to give them a balance of everything they need. A lot of our pupils are self-motivated learners because that is the culture of the school.

Head Davina Lloyd and students
Winning ethos: Head Davina Lloyd and students
"If things are always imposed on them, children will not enjoy the learning experience as much."

The system certainly seems to have worked at the Cooper's Company and Coborn school.

Pupils set themselves personal targets, which may be anything from being punctual or more organised to improving grades, with the help of their form teacher.

The targets are reviewed twice a year and once achieved, another one is set.

In cases where the school knows a pupil could do better, a mentoring service is in place.

'Supportive parents'

Dr Lloyd said: "The personal targets are good because they make children see what they are capable of.

"It promptly turns what would have been failures in the past, into successes."

She added that parents of pupils at the school played an important role.

"If children are in an environment in which they can learn and their parents are supportive, they will be successful."

Christian faith

The Cooper's Company and Coborn School has an impressive history dating back 1546.

The Cooper's Company took on the management of the school in 1552. The school was amalgamated with the Coburn School for Girls at the end of the 19th century, and moved to its present site in Upminster in 1971.

It currently caters for about 1,250 pupils but competition for a place is tough.

Each year, the school receives an average of 1,000 applications for just 180 places.

Although billed as an ordinary state school, there are certain criteria for acceptance:

  • Families have to belong to a Christian faith and agree to go along with the Christian ethos of the school
  • Children must be involved in a separate extra-curricular activity such as art, drama or sport and demonstrate a commitment to it
Dr Lloyd said this last criterion was particularly important.

"We are looking for children who already do a lot outside school. Once you get someone with that sort of character, you can do something with them.

"Our children here never want to go home at the end of the day.

"The best thing about this school is when I interview parents who say they have sat outside the five secondary schools in the area and watched the children come and go and when they saw our school, they knew it was the one they wanted their children to go to."

However, despite the success in the exam league table, achieving Investor in people status and a Sportsmark award, Dr Lloyd insists there is no room for complacency.

"We are always looking for ways of making this a better experience for children."

The 2001 school and college performance tables

ENGLAND PRIMARY

Analysis

SCOTLAND

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ENGLAND 11-18

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