Warning to ‘underperforming’ schools

Dr Elizabeth Sidwell
Dr Elizabeth Sidwell
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Chorley’s underperforming schools could be pushed into becoming academies.

Education ministers have today revealed Chorley’s two worst performing primary schools could be taken out of local authority control if they don’t improve.

Highfield Primary School on Wright Street and Clayton Brook Primary School on Great Greens Lane are among 36 primary schools in Lancashire which have failed to make the grades.

Test results for 11-year-olds and Ofsted judgements of 36 primaries across the county have been deemed “stubbornly low – resulting in thousands of pupils receiving an unacceptable standard of education.”

Of these 36 primary schools, 32 are below the Government’s “floor standard” for results in Key Stage 2 tests.

This means Lancashire has the highest number of underperforming primary schools in the North West and around a third of pupils leaving primary school below the standard expected in reading, writing and maths. There are also four underperforming schools in Preston and two in South Ribble.

The Government’s Schools Commissioner, Dr Liz Sidwell, says the Government wants to team up with education organisations and schools with a track record of successful results to quickly make under-performing schools into academies. Academies are not controlled by the local authority – in Chorley’s case Lancashire County Council. Instead, they would be taken over by local education groups or management at stronger schools.

Dr Sidwell said: “When schools have been struggling for years, we simply cannot stand by and allow things to continue as they are.”

She said by the end of the year around 200 primary school will have re-opened as sponsored academies.

Dr Sidwell added: “By becoming academies, these primary schools will thrive under the leadership of some of our best school leaders – rather than staying under the control of the local authority, which clearly isn’t working.”

Research carried out by the Department for Education suggests that between 2010 and 2011, results for pupils in sponsored academies improved at a faster rate than in state-funded schools.

County Coun Susie Charles, cabinet Member for Children and Schools, said: “We are totally committed to ensuring that every child in Lancashire achieves the best that they can do. The attainment of primary school pupils in Lancashire is consistently above the national average. Our early indications of key stage 2 results for this year indicate that many of the schools that were below the government’s new higher floor target last year have made very significant improvements.”

The leader of the county Council, County Coun Geoff Driver, added: “I am surprised and disappointed that the Department for Education have chosen to make an announcement in this way. Not only does it seriously distort the position in Lancashire but also there is a danger it undermines all the very good work done by our dedicated teachers and, most of all, by the children themselves.”