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Staff hailed for high standards which help pupils achieve

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A school at which 95 per cent of pupils get free dinners has been named as the poorest in the country.

But despite that unenviable tag, Duncombe Primary School, in Sussex Way, Upper Holloway, has defied the odds to be rated good with outstanding features by watchdog Ofsted.

Around 75 per cent of 460 pupils at the school don’t speak English as their first language, but that hasn’t stopped them beating the national average in test scores at Key Stage 2.

And teachers at the school go beyond the call of duty to help families tackle serious problems like housing, immigration or even domestic violence.

Not content with helping its own pupils, the school has also allowed teenagers who have been thrown out of their own school to complete their GCSEs there, thus keeping them out of trouble, in return for them helping out with the younger pupils.

Cllr Richard Watts, Islington Council’s executive member for children and families, said that much of the secret is down to challenging the parents as well as the kids.

He said: “There is a really high expectation on both children and families. Even the youngest get set homework and the parents have to read to their children every day. They get told off if they don’t.

“The teachers encourage the students so much and provide a great support network for the families.”

Innovative teaching methods include maths lessons in Turkish and other first languages spoken at the school, which parents must attend to ensure they can support their children.

Cllr Watts said: “For me Duncombe is the model of what a successful community school in a borough like Islington should do.

He added: “A lot of that is down to the head teacher Barrie O’Shea. These high standards aren’t new, but it’s nice that Duncombe has been recognised for the challenges it faces and does such a good job.”

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