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Small changes produce big results at London school

17/04/2015 Joanna
Small changes such as introducing free breakfast and banning 'street language' have produced big results at a school in London.

City Academy Hackney, which opened in 2009 on the site of failing school Homerton House, has improved more than any other London school over recent years and is second in the country for student progress, the Telegraph reports.

Principal Mark Emmerson attributes the institution's "phenomenal" success to the introduction of a 'marginal gains' strategy, which was inspired by the Great Britain cycling team's achievements.

"If you can improve each area by one per cent then the progress is huge," said Mr Emmerson. "Our five key areas are expectation, behaviour, teaching, assessment and feedback."

Along with the free porridge and the ban on street language, measures to boost attainment include rewards for success such as surprise pizza parties, one-to-one reading lessons for new pupils and additional studies lessons after school.

A BBC Radio Four inspired 'Just A Minute' game is played in lessons, where pupils are encouraged to speak eloquently about a subject they have been studying without using language such as 'basically' and 'like'.

In addition, a communal atmosphere is encouraged by the school, involving greater interaction between teachers and students. This even extends to lunch breaks, when staff and pupils eat their meals together.

Extending professionalism across academia, arts and sport has led to the school achieving a 100 per cent participation rate in PE, while all students take part in the Duke of Edinburgh award in sixth form.

Mr Emmerson acknowledges the strategies may seem austere, but said he has always received very positive student feedback.

"In year 7 it seems very strict," said school prefect Jessica Faria. "But it actually benefits us. We had a 100 per cent pass rate in this year’s exams."

The school's reputation has led to fierce competition for places, with 1,300 applicants for 180 places in year 7 this year.

Posted by Harriet McGowanADNFCR-2164-ID-801784015-ADNFCR
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