Tory ‘rescue package’ for schools


Published: Monday 13th October 2014 by The News Editor

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New powers to impose tough classroom discipline and immediately sack school leaders at failing state schools would be introduced under Conservative plans to rescue 500 failing English schools, David Cameron has announced.

A crack squad of teachers would also be set up under a Conservative government so the top talent in the profession could be swiftly despatched to classrooms that are not up to scratch, the Prime Minister said.

It comes amid concerns about the time it takes to turn around badly-performing schools and the impact that can have on the education of the 100,000 pupils affected.

Ex perts will be consulted to help develop the “rescue package”, which will be included in the Conservatives’ general election manifesto.

Mr Cameron said: “We want to build a Britain with an education system that helps our children reach their potential and succeed in life.

“That’s why we’re going to rescue 500 schools and help 100,000 children get new opportunities. That’s what our long-term plan means for you – a decent education system and the chance for your child to get on.”

Regional School Commissioners (RSCs) – former headteachers and teaching experts who oversee all free schools and academies – will be given wider powers to immediately intervene in any state school ruled inadequate by watchdog Ofsted.

They will be able to order immediate personnel changes to governing bodies, introduce punishments for bad behaviour and bring in behaviour experts to implement new policies on classroom discipline, school uniform standards and homework.

The Conservatives would also set up a National Teaching Service (NTS), funded centrally, that would be made up of high-quality teachers ready to be sent out to poor performing schools.

More than 1,000 failing schools have converted to academy status since the Coalition took power but the process takes around 13 months to complete.

The reforms are aimed at ensuring experts can intervene from day one so schools can start to improve as soon as possible.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “Labour failed an entire generation, breaking our education system so badly that some children couldn’t read or write properly. Our plan for education is clearing up Labour’s mess.

“We have witnessed a revolution in school standards over the past four years, with more young people being taught in good or outstanding schools today than ever before. But there is more to do, and the next phase of the plan must go further and faster in targeting the schools where failure has become ingrained.

“Every child deserves the right to go to a good local school where they learn the skills and experiences they need to succeed in modern Britain. The new early intervention powers and National Teaching Service will ensure every child can truly enjoy that right for the first time.

“We will not tolerate failure, and where we find it we will use tried and trusted interventions to turn things around in the interests of young people everywhere”.

Concerns have been raised about whether Department for Education (DfE) processes for overseeing free schools are working after a number hit the headlines.

The Al-Madinah School in Derby and the Discovery New School in Crawley, West Sussex, were both closed down after damning assessments of how they were being run.

In Birmingham, four separate probes were conducted into the allegations originally sparked by the so-called ”Trojan Horse” letter – now widely believed to be a hoax – that referred to an alleged plot by hardline Muslims to seize control of a number of school governing boards in the city.

Ofsted issued a damning verdict on the running of a number of the city’s schools and declared five failing, placing them into special measures.

Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt said: ” The events in Birmingham have exposed David Cameron’s government’s failure to deliver effective oversight of our schools. This government’s failure has meant school standards suffer.

“I have announced that Labour will introduce new local Directors of School Standards to provide rigorous oversight of all state schools, spotting and acting on problems before it is too late. But ministers have refused to take action throughout the entirety of this Parliament.

” On the issue of teacher quality, the Government has changed the rules to allow unqualified teachers into the classroom. Labour will end this damaging policy, focusing on delivering highly qualified teachers in every classroom.

“Ministers are now trying to play catch-up but the public will see that it is this Government’s damaging schools policy that has failed pupils.”

Published: Monday 13th October 2014 by The News Editor

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