BY JOE JENKINS
CHRIS WOODHEAD, the Chief Inspector of Schools, last week listed 159 flagship schools in his annual report to the Government — a high proportion of them Catholic secondary and primary schools. 17 per cent of the secondary schools in the list are Catholic, well above their ten per cent representation in the secondary sector.
However, Mr Woodhead was critical of the competence of head teachers, up to 3,000 of whom, he said, did not have their "finger on the pulse".
The Government has not ruled out the introduction of a competency test for aspiring head teachers.
The report, which indicated that standards had risen over the last year, was welcomed by Education and Employment Minister, Gillian Shephard, as "encouraging news".
She acknowledged, however, that standards had to rise further. The Catholic secondary schools included in the list are: Bishop Challoner, Basingstoke; Cardinal Langley, Rochdale; Cardinal Newman and Community College, Coventry; Finchley, Barnet; St Augustine, Trowbridge, Wilts; St Bede's, Blackburn; St Edmund Arrowsmith, Wigan; St Mary's, Wigan; Bishop Milner, Dudley; Our Lady and St John, Blackburn; London Oratory, Hammersmith and Fulham.
Primary schools included are: St Bede's, Redcar; St John Vianney, Coventry; St Joseph's, Billingham; St Joseph's, Westminster; St Mary's, Newcastle-underLyme, and Our Lady of Lourdes, Wanstead.
Meanwhile, educational history was made in Cornwall this week when boys at senior level were told that they will be able to have a Catholic education without having to leave Cornwall, following the move by Tremough Convent School at Penryn, Cornwall's only Catholic secondary school, to admit boys as well as girls to its senior school. Until now, the 54-year-old school has only been co-educational from nursery to primary stage.