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Supporting struggling schools to raise education standards

November 27, 2014 2:44 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

More than 2,000 struggling schools could be turned around if they had effective support, Liberal Democrat Schools Minister David Laws has said.

Speaking to CentreForum, David said the Conservatives' determination to monitor all schools from Whitehall threatens standards in education.

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He said the Conservatives refused to introduce proper oversight for academies and free schools, relying only on the Department for Education.

David said this led to large numbers of schools getting no proper support to improve and problems going unnoticed.

He added that if all academy chains and local authorities were performing to their best, there would be 2,000 fewer schools requiring improvement, or in special measures.

David said:

"Here lies an inherent contradiction in the drive for autonomy - it has led to even more meddling from the centre.

"But this provides a limited capacity for scrutiny which inevitably drives attention towards only the very weakest schools.

"Regional Schools Commissioners are a response to this limited capacity and limited ability to micromanage from the centre. But they still cover absurdly large areas.

"As a consequence of not putting enough focus on a middle tier of accountability, we are allowing too many underperforming schools, weak local authorities and mediocre academy chains to deliver poor education for too long.

"Top down oversight, led by officials often hundreds of miles away, is allowing schools to slip through the net and contributing directly to lower standards.

"Many chains and local authorities across the country are doing a good job in driving up school performance.

"But others are lagging behind, with significantly higher levels of underperforming schools.

"If all local authorities and chains were performing at the level reached by many of the better middle tier bodies across the country, we would today have over 2,000 fewer 'requires improvement and inadequate' schools."