Coast to Coast

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Under new plans to try and improve schools across England, the first education bill of the new Parliament promises to create hundreds of academies and free schools, with plans to replace head teachers at schools that are considered ‘coasting’.

Any school not performing to the levels deemed acceptable by the Education Secretary are to be put on immediate notice to improve. If placed on this notice schools will face having their leadership replaced by a specialist team chosen by Nicky Morgan and her colleagues and converted into academies unless they can produce a clear improvement plan. This bill will tie in with David Cameron election vow to fight against ‘mediocrity’, stating that any school not rated ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’ by the inspectorate would ‘have to change or face the consequences’.

This bill comes in the wake of Nicky Morgan promising that one of her primary priorities “is to speed up the process for tackling failing schools”, as currently there are 3,300 schools across England that “require improvement”. But what defines a ‘coasting school’? When asked to define this Nicky Morgan didn’t have a definitive answer but did state that “just good isn’t good enough” and that “it’s not ok to be just above failing”. But is changing leadership for ‘coasting schools’ the answer? Brian Lightman, the general secretary of the ASCL (Association of School and College Leaders), has responded saying that forcing a school into change and becoming an academy is unlikely to provide a quick solution to an often complex issue, nor is changing the leadership going to mean instant success.

But hasn’t this all been done before?

Back in 2007 the BBC reported that “Hundreds of schools in England which are considered to be ‘coasting’ are facing a government crackdown.” And again in 1999 an extremely similar story “The school standards watchdog in England is to crack down on ‘coasting’ schools“. It’s also worth noting that at the same time in 1999 Ofsted were just announcing that they were reducing the amount of inspection notice schools would receive from two terms warning to six to ten working weeks. It’s now less than one day’s notice. The real question is 16 years later why are schools still “coasting”?

One of the main questions that also needs answering is, who does this specialist leadership team consist of?  Heads’ leaders are all aso asking where are all these ‘armies of superstar replacement heads waiting to be “parachuted” into schools’ when there is such a huge leadership shortage.

As we reported in our blog at the beginning of May recent research carried out by the NAHT (National Association of Head Teachers) showed that over 60% of school leaders struggled to recruit teachers for leadership roles and over a quarter of senior positions advertised in the UK were not filled due to a recruitment crisis in this area. Statistics have shown that 50% of head teachers are set to retire in the next 10 years, with 25% of these looking to retire within the next year. Also, with 67% of deputy head teachers showing no ambition to move further up the ladder. So who are these ‘teams’ going to be taking over these ‘coasting schools’?

Do you think this plan for schools across England will work? Is it just the same old thing time and time again? Are academies the future? What do you think? Have your say…


4 thoughts on “Coast to Coast

  1. Just glad I’m out of the whole system. It’s a system that doesn’t work and is nothing but negative for all who work there. I worked in a ‘good’ school and did my best for 14 years but could no longer listen to the powers that be who then wanted to become ‘outstanding’. The pressure’s never ending. No wonder there were less students signing up onto teacher training courses last year with all the negative press about teachers. I wouldn’t do it again!

  2. It would be useful to see a coherent plan to really understand what the government intend. It is certain that there will not be enough schools ready for the population surge. Free schools are often in places where there are already enough schools so what happens is pupils move from established schools and those schools begin to die because of a mis placed idea that free schools will be better. So far that has not proven to be the case in most instances. When,oh when will governments of all colours take a long term view and consider the advice of those who actually work in education? I am not holding my breath….

  3. As a teacher with 17 years of experience , I still fail to understand one thing : where and what is the SUPPORT schools need ?
    Because of their resourcing , catchment areas , etc, schools do not all start with standard pupils. If a school requires improvement , it needs help. Just like we would give a struggling child that extra helping hand which may set them off. A struggling school doesn’t need however, some pretend know it all executive head , as they often call themselves , who will fly in such a superman of education and make it alright.
    To me, Support is guidance, advice, practical help for teachers who often suffer even more the failing school, status as their leaders get under more pressure and cascade the pressure own.
    So ofsted talk a load of rubbish, they are not helpful, well, us teacher all already know that. But an academy is not a solution . It’s just a way of masking , dressing up a problem to help more people who know nothing of education, take the reigns.
    My final question is, if any joe blog can rescue a school by flying in or naming it an academy , why don’t they teach the kids as well hey, and maybe blame themselves for their own bad jobs like they do teachers ?

  4. Apologies for the spelling errors above, it’s been a long half term day of report writing …..

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