Weakest schools to be targeted by Gove


Michael Gove has unveiled plan to convert primary schools that have fallen below the government's minimum standard into academies, with the weakest 200 being converted from September 2012.

The primaries that will be turned into academies are those that have fallen below the government's minimum standards for five years. The standards require at least 60% of pupils to achieve a basic level – level four – in English and maths by the age of 11, and also require them to have made at least average progress between the ages of seven and 11.

Around 500 primaries have fallen below the minimum standards for three or four years, and local authorities have been asked to draw up plans to show how they intend to improve them. Those authorities with particularly large numbers of struggling primaries will be identified for urgent collaboration with the Department for Education.

Mr Gove warned that the government could intervene where authorities were "recalcitrant" or tried to "stand in the way of improvement".

He said: "Wherever possible, we want to find solutions that everyone can agree on, as we have done with the vast majority of the secondary schools that will become academies next year."

Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said compelling schools to turn into academies would not improve standards.

She said: "This is a totally unacceptable experiment to undertake with our primary school children. Since last September, few primaries have voluntarily converted to academy status.

"Schools value and need the additional support they receive from their local authority and neighbouring schools. Simply closing schools and replacing them with academies will not have the impact sought, but will cause a great deal of confusion and distress for parents, pupils and staff."

By 2015, the education secretary said he expected every secondary school in England to be achieving the current national average of at least 50% of pupils achieving five A*-C grades at GCSE, including English and maths. If not, the school will be regarded as underperforming.

The current threshold to avoid that label is 35% of pupils getting five "good" GCSEs, including in English and maths.

As an interim measure, after the 2012 exams the floor of minimum performance will be raised to 40% of pupils achieving five A*-Cs including in English and maths. At present, 407 secondaries are below that level.

In addition, Michael Gove has announced that nearly 900 secondary schools in England must raise standards so that at least 50 percent of pupils get five A*-C grades at GCSE, Education Secretary Michael Gove has announced.The stringent new targets are to be imposed on schools in an attempt to raise flagging standards.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said every state secondary school must achieve the national average GCSE performance by 2015. The current target is 35 per cent of pupils, which Mr Gove last year raised from Labour’s 30 per cent.

Those schools which fail could face closure or takeover by a successful neighbouring academy school. In the most recent round of exams, 870 out of the 3,000 secondaries in England fell short of the benchmark.

The 50 per cent target will  be phased in, with the minimum standard rising to 40 per cent in 2012. At present, 407 secondaries are below that level.

Mr Gove has already raised the benchmark to 35 percent but said further improvements are needed to prevent Britain falling behind rapidly rising Asian economies like China and India.