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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 January 2008, 00:55 GMT
Tradition underpins 'best' school
By Gary Eason
Education editor, BBC News website

head and pupils at Moreton Community School
Head and pupils at "best value" Moreton Community School
A passion for teaching and learning - and a bit of borrowed tradition - have propelled a community school in a tough part of Wolverhampton to the top of the pupil progress table.

Youngsters at Moreton Community School in Wolverhampton achieved the best contextual value added score in England in their GCSE results last year.

The school's score of 1090.5 meant they typically scored one and a half grades better than had been expected from their previous test results, compared with other pupils nationally.

Head teacher Tony Leach said it had all been down to hard work by pupils and staff.

He said Moreton was known locally as "the zoo on the hill" and was under threat of closure by Ofsted when he arrived seven years ago.

As part of the transformation he got pupils themselves to choose a motto and crest.

They adopted a highly traditional grammar school style, complete with a Latin motto: labor omnia vincit - hard work conquers all.

This is likely to be music to the ears of the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who started something of a trend for recalling old school mottos after he took office citing his own, "I will try my utmost".

Commitment

"We have done a raft of things to raise self-esteem," said Mr Leach.

"It was the school council that said, 'we want that very traditional Latin motto and traditional grammar-school motif.

"Their view was, 'if that is good enough for the grammar school that is good enough for Moreton'.

"It is all to do with making sure that our students feel totally valued."

Continuing commitment had been vital.

"Our students and staff are relentless and passionate about achievement.

"It comes down to being passionate about what we believe." Ofsted now calls Moreton "outstanding" for raising the aspirations of pupils in a deeply deprived area.

That said, the school is only barely out of the threat zone in terms of its core GCSE performance.

Gordon Brown wants all schools to have at least 30% of their pupils attaining at least five good GCSEs including English and maths.

Moreton just achieved that this year, up from 25% last year.

Brightest

Academic selection was defended at the grammar school which topped the "raw" GCSE results table.

Pupils at Chelmsford County High School for Girls scored an average of almost 13 A* grades each last summer.

Deputy head Julian Dutnall said it was more difficult to stretch the very brightest pupils in mixed ability classes in comprehensives.

"I clearly think that there is a place for grammar schools in the system," he said.

"Differentiation in a comprehensive is incredibly difficult.

"The advantage is that there is differentiation in a grammar school but we have got teachers who have the skills to work with highly able students."


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SEE ALSO
New school motto: Hit that target
03 Nov 07 |  Education



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