A friend of mine brought me the prospectus of a school that she was considering for her daughter. The appearance of the publication was impressive. It was printed on high quality paper, and had plenty of photographs.My friend’s daughter is mixed race, and my friend was anxious that she went to a school which celebrated multi-culturalism.We were heartened by the choice of photographs, revealing a diverse school community,engaged in a variety of activities, academic, vocational and extra-curricular. We appreciated the Head teacher’s address. It was friendly and mentioned how much the school celebrated and valued the diverse needs of its student cohort. My friend was anxious that the school was ‘strict’ so was pleased to see how the enforcement of uniform rules was mentioned, along with a clear behaviour code, and high expectations of politeness. As her daughter is musical,my friend was encouraged to find that the school was an Arts and Media Specialist college, and was impressed by the regular school productions staged. We both felt it was a promising touch that the prospectus included a  glowing review from the local paper of the latest production,‘The Little Shop of Horrors’. However, the enclosed data told a potentially different story to the one narrated in the text of the prospectus. In the results from the current year, there were no ‘A*’ or ‘A’ grades in Art, Music or Drama, which suggested that the gifted and talented in these areas were being short changed, even though the school was an Arts and Media College. It was also a cause for concern that over half of the cohort for BTEC Performing Arts did not pass. In Science the number of students at grade ‘D’ was twice as many as at ‘C’, which suggested that this subject was not good at moving students up from the ‘C/D’ borderline, and did not add enough value, particularly because this pattern was not reflected in English and Maths. My friend and I were concerned about sending her daughter to a school where the child apparently did not have an equal chance of reaching her potential in all three core subjects. It was also noticeable that compared to the Arts subjects, the Humanities appeared to do much better. For example, in History, a quarter of all students achieved ‘A’ grades. This again suggested that the school’s Arts and Media specialist status was misleading.

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