Government pledges extra support for underperforming schools

The Department for Education has released an outline of how it plans to support underperforming schools

The government has pledged to offer extra support to underperforming schools with the aim of raising standards in the classroom.

Schools minister Lord Agnew has set out how the department will support schools that are underperforming and how they will be identified. These measures include:

  • The floor and coasting standards being used as ways to identify schools that need help, rather than as triggers for intervention ahead of an academy conversion;
  • Where a school is struggling it will receive support from a high-performing school leader, as well as access to up to £16,000 for the small number of schools judged as ‘requires improvement’ in their last two Ofsted inspections; and
  • The ‘coasting’ measure will no longer be used as the starting point of a formal intervention.
  • Regional Schools Commissioners will no longer issue warning notices to schools on educational grounds, unless they have been rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted.

Agnew said:

“Standards in our schools have risen, with the proportion of pupils in good or outstanding schools up from 66% in 2010 to 86% in 2018.

“Today’s changes will simplify the school accountability system so teachers and school leaders know where they stand and simplify a system that we know can be a concern amongst the profession.

“Where a school is struggling, we will aim to take swift action, providing practical hands on support and, where necessary, more formal steps.

“The support that we are offering will be focused around delivering support that can be embedded into a school’s teaching programme for the long term.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), responded:

“[The] announcement is a welcome clarification of the promises made by the secretary of state at our annual conference in May this year. It also marks a significant point in the ongoing work between NAHT and the DfE to address some of the big concerns of school leaders.

“Accountability is obviously a key concern, and today’s announcement clears up some of the confusion regarding the roles of Ofsted and RSCs, as well as providing much needed reassurance that schools seeking to improve will receive support rather than sanction. This is an important step forward, and consistent with the findings of our Improving School Accountability report which was published in September.”

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