Hundreds Of ‘Failing’ Schools Face Closure

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Enthusiastic students joined UCU lecturers on the picket line during the April 24th strike of lecturers, civil servants and teachers
Enthusiastic students joined UCU lecturers on the picket line during the April 24th strike of lecturers, civil servants and teachers

Hundreds of so-called ‘failing’ schools are to be told to ‘improve’ within three years or face closure.

Alternatively they may be merged or turned into privately-run academies, under the latest government edict.

‘This government should improve or be closed down, their performance is a lot worse than any of the schools in this country,’ National Union of Teachers executive member and anti-academy campaigner, Hank Roberts told News Line yesterday.

As many as 638 secondary schools are being given improve or face closure ultimatums if they do not present a viable three year rescue plan in the next 50 days – the end of the summer term.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) is targeting schools in England currently judged to be failing to reach minimum standards for GCSEs.

The government target is for 30% of pupils to get at least five grade C GCSEs or above.

Children’s Secretary, Ed Balls, has told 134 out of the 150 local authorities in England to produce the detailed plans for specific schools alleged to be ‘failing’ located in their areas.

Some local authorities will be offered extra resources but schools will face ‘formal intervention’ if they do not progress.

Ed Balls said: ‘Each of these schools faces different challenges in getting up to and over 30%.

‘That is why I am asking local authorities for a specific plan of action for each National Challenge school by the end of July, so that we can be confident that all of them will succeed.

‘Every National Challenge school will get its own package of extra support and extra funding to help them improve pupils’ results.

‘But I will not hesitate to challenge local authorities to do more for their local schools where bigger changes or faster improvements are needed.’

Under the government’s ‘National Challenge’ programme, all schools must reach the 30% target by 2011.

As part of the government’s clampdown, children’s secretary Balls plans to impose ‘expert’ individual advisers and National Leaders of Education to work alongside existing heads, to turn schools around.

Meanwhile, prime minister Brown has made it clear he intends to drive through plans for 400 academies.

• Health secretary Johnson yesterday lashed out at the BMA over its opposition to planned privately-run polyclinics.

In a comment published in the Observer newspaper, Johnson said: ‘I reject totally the inaccurate claim that we are cutting or closing services.’

He accused the BMA of ‘scaremongering and misleading claims’.