Government enhances support for underperforming schools


New measures to identify and support underperforming schools in England are in the pipeline, the government has announced.

Schools minister Lord Agnew has unveiled proposals designed to simplify the school accountability system and free-up time for teaching staff, raising standards across the country.

The measures will help to identify schools that require additional help – the current floor and coasting standards will no longer be used as a trigger for intervention but instead as an indicator of schools that need support.

High-performing school leaders will help guide schools facing difficulties, while up to £16,000 will be made available to schools where two-consecutive Ofsted inspections mark a need for improvement.

No longer using the ‘coasting’ measure as an initial point for intervention was a key pledge listed by Education Secretary Damian Hinds earlier this year.

A consultation into whether the floor and coasting standards should be replaced by a single measure is due in the early part of 2019.

Minister for the School System, Lord Agnew, said the proportion of pupils in good or outstanding schools has climbed by 20% since 2010, although that figure can be boosted further.

“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,” he explained.

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

He added that he wants the systems of support to be “embedded” into long-term teaching programmes and that efforts are being made to make the school system easier to understand.

Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), described accountability as a key concern for schools but welcomed support methodology rather than sanctions.

He said the move represents an “important step forward” and a welcome boost for school leaders across England.