Kim Sparling, headteacher at Oldfield School in Bath, analyses the ingredients of her school’s high achievements and concludes that an ongoing and relentless drive for improvement lies at the heart of its success.

Headteacher Carole Hawkins lays to rest the common perception that independent schools enjoy a privileged and problem-free position in today’s education market.

In July 2005, there were 1,557 poorly performing schools in England, according to the National Audit Office’s recent report, Improving Poorly Performing Schools in England. Around 23% of secondary schools were in the ‘poorly performing’ category.

Earlier this year, the Teacher Support Network’s Wellbeing and Exam Results survey showed that 62% of secondary teachers believe that performance league tables have a negative effect on their wellbeing and that meeting targets, increased workload, poor work-life balance and school managers who pile on the pressure are all leading to high levels of stress.