Like most parents I was interested to see the GCSE league tables that came out this week. Papers get a sneak preview of the league tables a few days before they can be published and I was a bit shocked to see Devizes School (where my 15-year-old daughter is a pupil) could only manage 38 per cent of its pupils passing five or more gcses at grade C or above when subjects included maths and English.
I was pleased though that, unlike some other head teachers, Devizes head Malcolm Irons, did not duck the question when asked why the result was so low.
He explained that there had been problems with teachers in the two core subjects but he was happy that these had now been ironed out and he had high hopes of this year's GCSE students.
So I was somewhat dismayed when my daughter told me yesterday that she has still not had the result of her maths mock GCSE because the teacher was off sick and was not expected to return next week.
Her form is being taken by a supply teacher who can do little more than hand out work sheets and try and use her own rudimentary knowledge of maths (she gave the subject up after GCSE) to help the class.
My daughter's form is in a middle set for maths. At a recent parents evening I was told she should get a C but if she works hard this could become a B. The danger is that without a qualified teacher it could drop to a D and this would be useless to both her and the school. Two weeks of proper maths teaching lost now could mean the difference between those crucial two grades.
When my children were younger and we lived in Bishops Cannings it was vogue to send youngsters to either St John's or Lavington for senior eduction. We decided to stick with Devizes and I have been pleased with Mr Irons' approach. But with St John's getting 65 per cent of its pupils to pass five or more GCSEs, including maths and English, and Lavington 57 per cent many parents may be thinking the extra travelling is worth the better results.