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GCSE gallery was 'a misjudgement'
PUPILS failing to make the grade have had their names and pictures plastered on the wall of their school canteen.
Larkmead School in Abingdon put up photographs of about 30 Year 11 students who scored Cs and below in January’s mock GCSE exams in a scheme teachers hoped would motivate them to improve.
But it backfired and, after two days, it was removed.
Headteacher Chris Harris admitted the gallery was a misjudgement.
One mum, 38, who did not want to be named, said her 15-year-old daughter had been left humiliated.
She said: “This could be seen as bullying people to get higher grades. The school should be ashamed.
“She was quite upset by it and doesn’t want to go to school.
“She was in two minds about going to sixth form, but she wants to leave now.
“She is no underachiever in my mind – she has achieved a lot in her life.”
The ‘Year 11 Target Board’ was put up on Friday, but taken down on Monday after pupils and parents complained.
The mum added: “It has come down, but the damage could last forever. They have really upset some of the kids.
“They shouldn’t let the children become statistics.”
Headteacher Chris Harris said staff worked hard to help students, but the gallery had been counter-productive.
He said: “It was done out of a desire to support and help them, not a desire to humiliate.”
The head said teachers often gave up their time during lunch and after school to help the 150 pupils in the year group prepare for GCSE exams this summer.
He added: “The decision to take it down was that clearly it was counter-productive. The intention was good, but it was clearly having the opposite impact.”
He said a similar wall chart, with every pupil grouped according to their attendance and without photographs, had led to increased attendance.
Teachers will explain the decision to put the chart up to pupils at an assembly tomorrow.
Melinda Tilley, Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for schools and improvement, said: “I am sure they did it in good faith and I am sorry it has backfired.
“It was probably meant as a wake-up call and somebody has taken it the wrong way.”
David Lever, chairman of governors at Larkmead, said: “The school has an excellent reputation and it is very keen to do the best for all the students and support them.
“Chris is an excellent headteacher and I have total confidence in him.”
Gwain Little, secretary of Oxfordshire National Union of Teachers, said: “It is important when there are children underachieving that we look at supportive ways of tackling it.”
He said there was too much pressure on schools to perform and move up the league tables, adding: “It is unsurprising it sometimes filters down into the school itself.”
Mike Curtis, Oxfordshire branch secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the motive would have been to encourage the pupils.
But he added: “In most schools we try to celebrate the successes and not highlight the failures.”
Department for Education spokesman Charles Heymann added: “It is an issue for the school to judge what is appropriate.”
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