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Struggling schools to face single target

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Using a single “trigger” point to indicate when struggling schools in England require intervention would help to create a more simple system, the education secretary has said.

Damian Hinds will tell head teachers there are too many confusing ways for schools to be judged as underachieving.

There would also be fewer ways for schools to be made to become academies.

This “clarity” over expected standards was “just what we’ve been calling for”, said heads’ leader Paul Whiteman.

At the moment, as well as Ofsted inspections, there are classifications of so-called “coasting” schools and those that fall below minimum targets for exam results.

‘Real confusion’

In a speech to the National Association of Head Teachers, Mr Hinds will announce a consultation on a new, simplified system for identifying when schools are judged as underperforming.

Mr Hinds will tell head teachers there is a “real confusion” over this and school leaders need a much more transparent system.

This will have implications for turning schools into academies when they are judged to be failing – with the education secretary saying this will happen in future only after a ruling from inspectors.

“This means we will not be forcibly turning schools into academies unless Ofsted has judged it to be inadequate,” Mr Hinds will tell the NAHT conference.

He will say that he wants schools to voluntarily choose to become academies, as a “positive choice for more and more schools”.

The consultation will examine how to set up a single threshold for when schools have fallen below expected standards.

Mr Whiteman, the NAHT general secretary, welcomed the announcement.

“It’s absolutely right that there should only be one agency with the remit to inspect schools. Clarity about the standards that are expected is just what we’ve been calling for.

“Removing the coasting and floor standards will do much to address the confusion felt by many school leaders,” he said.

Mr Hinds will also announce a £5m pilot scheme to give experienced teachers a sabbatical to stop them burning out and leaving the profession.

Teachers will be able to spend time in other settings, such as carrying out research or on work placements in industry.

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