A successful charter school

Imagine what they could do in South Auckland if the teachers union and their political wing, the Labour party, don’t get in the way.

DANIEL RILEY, a young trainee teacher from west London, attended a school so bad that it was shut down while he was there. It was, he recalls with commendable understatement, an “unstructured” place. Fewer than 20% of pupils achieved five good GCSE passes, including mathematics and English (the main benchmark for secondary students, involving exams commonly taken at 16). There were fights. Some, involving knives, ended with arrests. There were drugs—the school drew its pupils from tough housing estates, and gangs prowled at the gates. The teaching was “not inspired,” Mr Riley says, sticking with the understatement. He recalls lessons spent copying texts from books.

As happened to a few dozen failing institutions under the previous Labour government, Mr Riley’s school was turned into an academy—a state school removed from local council control and given new freedoms over staffing and teaching methods. Six years on, Paddington Academy draws its pupils from the same estates. But the school is unrecognisable.

Last summer 69% of pupils met the benchmark for good GCSEs, easily beating the national average. More than half come from homes poor enough to earn free school meals and more than three-quarters do not speak English as a first language, making its intake exceptionally “challenging”, in Whitehall jargon.

Now when Mr Riley meets teenage students they seek advice about university. His dream is to return to Paddington Academy to teach full-time. It is easy to see why. The school is a success, recently earning an “Outstanding” grade from Ofsted school inspectors. It is, more subjectively, an impressive place. It feels calm and academically ambitious. It hums with optimism.

We actually have nothing to lose in trialling Charter Schools…it is apparent as the nose on your face that the current system is failing those in lower decile schools.

Read the rest of the article and learn what makes a great school.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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