[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 13 January, 2005, 00:15 GMT
Modesty best policy - top school
Feversham College, Bradford
Feversham College has high expectations of students
Some head teachers, had their school been named the best in England, would be falling over themselves to publicise the achievement.

But not Jane Tiller of Feversham College, the Islamic girls' school in Bradford which tops this year's "value added" table.

It shows pupils' academic improvement during their time in secondary education.

Mrs Tiller is reluctant to allow journalists in.

'Clear guidance'

Such "modesty" is deemed vital to the success of the school, which has 454 students aged 11 to 18.

Feversham's website invokes the "clear guidance on modesty and rules of behaviour for all believers" promoted by the Koran.

But the school is keen to bring out the best from its girls.

In a statement, Mrs Tiller said: "Our added value has increased because we monitor student progress and teaching and learning with a rigorous focus on exam preparation.

"Everyone associated with the college has high expectations for exceptional achievement, including the girls themselves.

"This has reaped rewards and we are delighted with the outstanding performance of our school."

Expansion

Feversham has an unusual history. It has been a state school for only four years.

It opened as a private institution in 1984, after Muslims complained of a lack of single-sex education in Bradford.

At first it charged the families of its 24 pupils up to 700 a year and relied heavily on private donations.

The school expanded over the next few years, moving to bigger premises.

By the early 1990s, the governors decided Feversham should become state-funded, providing free single-sex education for Muslim girls.

The government turned down the idea in 1995 but another application, five years later, succeeded.

Feversham is now jointly run by the local authority and the Muslim Association of Bradford.

Its improved performances are testament to the quiet confidence promoted by Mrs Tiller.

In 2002, 53% of pupils gained five or more A* to C grades at GCSE and equivalent vocational exams.

By 2003 it was 61%, and in 2004 it was 70%. The average for England is 53.7%.

Individualism

Feversham focuses strongly on two things - its religion and its single-sex status.

Collective worship and faith-based assemblies are used to "promote and celebrate achievement".

All students, even sixth-formers, wear a uniform.

All staff at Feversham are female and it prefers men not to visit.

Some might argue that academic success is coming at the expense of a broader social education.

However, Mrs Tiller insists she is not looking to produce timid bookworms.

"Our students and staff are talented individuals and in the highly supportive college atmosphere everyone is encouraged to grow to their full identity," Feversham's website says.

Of course, league tables cannot measure this aspect of a school.

But in the area that can be measured - academic success - Feversham must be doing something right.

Not that Mrs Tiller would boast about it.


English secondary schools 2004

TYPE IN A FULL POSTCODE:
OR SEARCH BY AREA:
 


English primary schools 2004

TYPE IN A FULL POSTCODE:
OR SEARCH BY AREA:
 


Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do not publish tables.


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific