Worst schools ‘to improve or close’
Press Assoc. London UK – Tuesday, June 10 08:05 am Hundreds of failing schools face being closed down or replaced with more privately-backed academies under a £400 million drive to raise standards of education, it has been announced.
Children's Secretary Ed Balls is doubling the cash available for the 638 secondary schools in England where more than 70% of teenagers fail to get five C grades in their GCSEs.
The "National Challenge" initiative will also see an expansion of the controversial academies programme, with up to 313 of the privately-sponsored schools set to be open by 2010.
Local authorities will be given a 50-day deadline to come up with a rescue plan for each of the schools on the Government's hit list.
But teachers warned that the plan must not set out to "name and shame" schools doing their best in tough areas.
Christine Blower, acting general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "If Ed Balls is to provide meaningful support to the 638 secondary schools he has identified he has to lift the threat of school closure for failing to meet arbitrary targets.
"No headteacher or teacher mindful of their career will join a National Challenge school if they think it will be closed and turned into an academy in the following year."
Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: "If the National Challenge does what it says on the tin – namely support these schools with increased resources, targeted assistance and, crucially, the brokering of local solutions between schools and local authorities – it has ATL's support.
"But if the National Challenge turns out to be more naming and shaming, a disgrace and failure of a policy, it will not improve school standards and the chances of the children in those schools."
The Government's target is for no state school to have fewer than 30% of their pupils gaining five C grades in subjects including maths and English by 2011.