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Thursday, 24 August, 2000, 08:50 GMT 09:50 UK
Deputy head's gamble pays off
Tim McCarthy
Tim McCarthy: "Good teaching isn't good enough"
A deputy head teacher will be 1,000 better off having bet on a 10% improvement in his pupils' GCSE results - a target they exceeded.

Horse racing fan Tim McCarthy, of Avondale High School in Stockport, Greater Manchester, bet 100 at odds of 10-1 that the results would go up from 20% getting top grades to 30%.

In the results revealed on Thursday, 32% of the youngsters had achieved five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C.

Mr McCarthy, 40, who paid for his honeymoon in Venice six years ago by placing a bet on a horse at the Cheltenham Festival, intends to put 100 aside for staff and pupil celebration drinks.

He said the rest of the money would be put into school projects.

"The idea of the bet was just tongue-in-cheek to start with, but it became a real motivating force for the children. They really put a big effort into their exams this year," he said.

Higher expectations, higher results

Mr McCarthy was brought in specifically to improve the schools' results but stressed that it was very much a team effort, driven by the slogan "good teaching is not good enough".

"It's about teachers trying their very best to teach the best lessons," he said.

"It's the end of four or five years long, hard work. We started very young with these youngsters."

The school has to an extent narrowed the gender gap which now sees girls outperforming boys at GCSE level by having a boys' underachievement group and some single sex lessons.

"The girls have done better again, but it's not as significant as nationally."

His experience leads him to believe that raising the performance of one year group, as the school has done this year, is the key to a continuing rise in standards in years to come.

"But really it's about trying to raise the expectations of the youngsters, trying to give them the thought that education can be a route to success for them. It's making a difference in their lives, basically."

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Tim McCarthy
"It's about trying to raise expectations"

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