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Central City News: Language of achievement; BALSALL HEATH: School praised for work with ethnic minority pupils.

Byline: By Tony Collins

AN inner city primary school has been praised by Government inspectors for raising the standards of children who do not speak English as a first language.

Tindal Junior and Infants School, in Tindal Street, Balsall Heath, is said to serve an area with very high levels of social and economic disadvantage, resulting in many pupils having very low levels of attainment when they start school.

Its 400 pupils also come from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, the majority of Pakistani heritage, as well as small numbers of refugees and asylum seekers who attend for short periods.

Ofsted inspectors who visited the school in December said the vast majority of pupils are learning English as a new language, with more than 20 different languages spoken at home.

But they said that, despite the low starting point, most pupils achieve satisfactorily.

"The school is effective in helping the high number of pupils new to the school to settle well and to make a confident start in learning English as a new language.

But although children make good progress in the Foundation stage, they still do not reach average standards because they have so much ground to make up in learning English.

The quality of teaching is described as satisfactory overall, helped by teachers planning interesting learning activities.

Inspectors said head teacher Susan Skillett, fully supported by the deputy and her colleagues, has a clear vision for the school's future.

They added: "There is a shared agreement that standards are not high enough and the school improvement plan rightly highlights improving standards in English, maths and science as its first priority."

An intensified support programme is already helping to make improvements to English and maths.

Attendance is described as well below average which hinders progress for some pupils.

However, Ofsted said Tindal has improved satisfactorily since its last inspection and has good capacity to improve further.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jan 31, 2006
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