Congratulations to Henrietta Barnet on being named state school of the year.
The school this year celebrates its centenary and I am pleased that the achievements of the staff and pupils has been recognised in this way. The school has got a track record of outstanding results and along with St Michaels and QE Boys, often graces the very top of the league tables for exam results. Most Boroughs don't have a single school which performs as highly as these three, so it is should be a source of great pride for us all to have three such high performing schools. I'm a great believer in horses for courses and for high achievers such schools provide a fantastic education.
I was emailed by a reader who suggested I may have a comment on the success of selective schools in Barnet. I have. I'm a great believer in the old adage, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. These schools clearly are anything but broken. Let's concentrate our efforts on fixing those where there are problems. I think that the London Academy is a shining testament to what can be done with a school, given proper funding, resources and good leadership. There are arguments that under achieving pupils need to be mixed with high achievers to succeed. As someone who spent most of my school years under achieving, I believe the opposite to be true. I believe under achievers need special help and attention. As someone who is dyslexic with a degree of learning difficulties, I found the comparison between myself and the star pupils humiliating and demoralising. From conversations with parents of average children (often who fail to meet parents expectations), the issue is actually the parents. They place a huge burden of expectation on children. They coach them to pas exams to enter schools where they struggle and then are left dealing with stress of failure. I'm all for having elite schools for the super brainy. Teaching brainy kids who want to succeed is prbably quite an easy gig.Teaching problem kids is far harder and I'd pay the teachers who do this and are good at it 50% more. Then we'd soon see an improvement in standards.