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The government sets out plans to support underperforming schools

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The Department for Education has set out how it will support schools that are underperforming in the future, and how they will be identified.

From now on, the following measures will be used to identify schools that need additional support. They include:

  • the floor and coasting standards being used as ways to identify schools that need help, rather than as triggers for intervention ahead of an academy conversion;
  • where a school is struggling, it will receive support from a high-performing school leader, as well as access to up to £16,000 for the small number of schools judged as 'Requires Improvement' in their last two Ofsted inspections; and
  • the 'coasting' measure will no longer be used as the starting point of a formal intervention – this was a key pledge by the education secretary during a speech at NAHT’s Annual Conference earlier this year.

Regional schools commissioners will no longer issue warning notices to schools on educational grounds unless they have been rated 'Inadequate' by Ofsted.

The changes come ahead of a 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.

Schools that meet the criteria for extra support will be able to do so in two ways:

  • Up to three days' support from a designated national leader of education (NLE) who will work with the senior leadership of the school or trust to identify their specific needs and ways these can be addressed through DfE funded programmes; and
  • For those also judged as 'Requires Improvement' in their last two Ofsted inspections, an additional offer of up to £16,000 that can be put towards the costs of implementing the activity agreed between the NLE and school.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of 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 this 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."

First published 14 November 2018