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Thursday, 17 June, 1999, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
Expecting high standards
graphic
"We try hard," says the head of West Bridgford School, Nottinghamshire - an ordinary mixed comprehensive among the list of "outstanding" secondary schools in Ofsted's annual report.

"We regard ourselves as a centre for excellence. We expect high standards, we set high standards," David Cokeham added.

Ofsted annual 98
Mr Cokeham praises the commitment of his teaching staff to providing a quality education to the 1,400 or so pupils.

The one thing he needs is more money. Nottinghamshire suffers in the system which allocates funds from central government to local education authorities, he says. Until the formula is adjusted he will be badly done by compared with similar sized schools in many other parts of England.

Government announcements of extra money for schools are not as simple as people might think - often linked to particular initiatives that a school or area is running, or requiring matched funding from elsewhere.

Shabby

If he had a decent injection of money tomorrow he would spend it on the school fabric, which has deteriorated alongside other public buildings in the area.

Ofsted said: "Much of the accommodation is unsatisfactory. It is in poor repair and, for example, in the drama studio, unsafe. The excessive noise in music rooms is a health hazard."

"It is one of the shabbiest places the children go into," Mr Cokeham said. "That's because one has to do a balancing act with the funds, where you put them into classrooms and concentrate on the teaching."

The school, in a southern suburb of Nottingham, near Trent Bridge cricket ground, has GCSE results way above the national average and top of the league for state schools in its area.

Ofsted's inspectors said: "The high quality of teaching is a strength of the school. It contributes substantially to the pupils' well above average standards, complementing their positive attitudes to study."

Mr Cokeham is pleased to have done well in Ofsted's eyes, although he found the inspection process itself stressful.

"But we can always do better," he said, "you can never be complacent."

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