By Kate Loveys
Last updated at 11:59 AM on 27th July 2011
A secondary school is ‘streaming’ pupils based on ability in an attempt to attract those from well-off families.
From the age of 11 all pupils are segregated – taught in separate colour-coordinated buildings, play in fenced-off areas and eat lunch at separate times.
Pupils are ranked as they leave primary school and placed into one of three mini schools at Crown Woods College, Greenwich.
Segregation: Crown Woods College in Greenwich is separating pupils into different mini-schools based on ability - and also giving them different uniforms
The gifted and talented go to Delamere and wear purple ties and purple badges.
The rest go to Ashwood, which wears blue, or Sherwood, which wears red.
These two schools are more mixed ability but are still streamed into three tiers.
Michael Murphy said he took the decision to impose streaming to attract high-ability children to the school
Critics yesterday warned the move is demoralising for pupils and would merely increase competition and animosity between them rather than raise standards.
But headteacher Michael Murphy insists the measure is the only way to attract pupils of well-off parents.
Mr Murphy is one of the highest-paid headteachers in England, last year earning £171,483.
When he took over Crown Woods it was in special measures and he claims was ‘losing out’ to grammar schools in nearby Bexley and the selective schools in Bromley.
Now Mr Murphy claims the school is oversubscribed for the first time and bright pupils no longer have their lessons disrupted by badly behaved youths.
Mr Murphy said the school would not have survived without streaming.
He said: ‘I felt if we made explicit the provision for high-ability children we would be able to attract those children and their parents who would rather not put them in to a grammar,’ he said.
‘Mrs Thatcher said you can’t ignore the market, you have to respond to it.’
Streaming existed on the schools’ previous site but was less rigorous. And pupils did not wear different uniforms and were not taught in separate buildings. Kevin Courtney, deputy secretary of the National Union of Teachers has condemned the practice.
He said: ‘The idea of taking a large school and turning it into three mini schools is likely to be good for [the school’s] relationships, but streaming is a step backwards. It leads to competition for children rather than improvement in teaching.’
Crown Woods College is hoping to attract more pupils from well-off families