Plans to support underperforming schools announced

Schools Minister Lord Agnew has announced plans to provide extra support for underperforming schools in England in a bid to raise standards in classrooms across the country.

The measures, announced following a recent pledge by the Secretary of State to simplify the school accountability system, include plans for the ‘coasting’ measure to stop being used as the starting point of a formal intervention and for the floor and coasting standards to be used as ways to identify schools that need help, rather than as triggers for intervention ahead of an academy conversion.

Lord Agnew also said that, where a school is struggling, it will receive support from a high-performing school leader and that the small number of schools judged as ‘Requires Improvement’ in their last two Ofsted inspections will gain access to up to £16,000.

Lord Agnew, said: “Standards in our schools have risen, with the proportion of pupils in good or outstanding schools up from 66 per cent in 2010 to 86 per cent in 2018. These 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. The changes precede an expected formal consultation in the New Year looking at whether the floor and coasting standards used to judge school performance should be replaced by a single measure.”

Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said: “This 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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