With seven Namakkal students in the top three positions, the poultry town has aced the higher secondary board examinations for the seventh year in a row.

Students of this district cornered two first tanks, a second, and four thirds in the class 12 examination conducted in March, results of which were announced on Thursday.

Schools in Namakkal have a reputation for putting in place a demanding regimen. Ambitious parents seek them out for the results they bring every year.

From being envied for their outcomes to being derided for their all-work, no-play approach, and even being suspected of malpractices, these institutions, dubbed as ‘super schools’, attract attention unfailingly every year.

Following allegations that some schools that have consistently produced State rank holders were involved in malpractices, officials shuffled invigilators in examinations centres — especially in the super schools – thrice during the examinations this year.

Four special teams headed by two directors and two joint director-level officials were also on the move across the district to keep a close eye. “Schools here have proved they never indulged in any malpractice. The achievement was out of sheer effort,” a correspondent of a private school here told The Hindu.

For the school managements, the result is a number game. Secretary and managing director of Vidyaa Vikas Schools, S. Gunasekaran, said his schools had produced 13 ranks in the higher secondary exams since they were founded 14 years ago. These included five first ranks, four seconds and four thirds.

“We have to produce a State rank every year to maintain admissions to class XI,” a school correspondent said. He said students were made to study from dawn to dusk, often starting as early as 4 a.m. and continuing until 11 p.m., to score higher than students in other districts and schools.

One of the strategies employed to ensure high marks is attracting district and school toppers with scores of more than 96 per cent in class X examinations by offering them free seats — wherein boarding, tuition fees and other education-related expenses are taken care of by the schools.

Managements said they set aside 20 per cent of their total intake for such students. The intake of each of these schools is around 1,000 to 1,500 in the higher secondary section.

But for one or two students, all the other State rank holders are from other districts. “More than 70 per cent of the students admitted in our schools are from other districts and 75 per cent of them are hostelites. In addition to regular classes, students of classes 9 to 12 staying in hostels have access to extra coaching and tuition before and after school hours,” said K. Thangavel, managing director of Kurinji Schools that has seven State ranks in its kitty.

“We complete portions for class XI in the first three months of the academic year and begin class XII,” said the managing director of another school. They also said that ‘super schools’ did not have as many holidays as schools in other districts.

“Students write 10 model examinations before the board exam. This gives them more confidence and practise to answer all the questions in time,” he said.

Interactions with the students in these schools revealed they were given enough time to relax or to participate in extra-curricular activities.