Secondaries face closure while opening free schools will be easier

While nearly 200 secondary schools may be closed because they failed to meet the government’s target for GCSE passes, planning rules have been relaxed to make it easier for free schools to open.

195 secondary schools haven’t reached the government’s GCSE target, having failed to get 40% of their pupils to achieve five ‘good’ GCSE passes, The Independent reports. However, this year the target was raised from the previous 35%, and some schools have struggled to reach the target because of last summer’s GCSE English grading problems.

Schools that don’t meet the target can be closed or forced to become academies – although 60 academies appear in a list of the 200 schools with the worst GCSE results. “Michael Gove will be facing a dilemma as to how he addresses the number of academies that are failing his imposed floor targets,” said the NUT’s Christine Blower, “Local authorities no longer have the right to step in and address issues in academies such as falling standards. This is now the responsibility of the Secretary of State who, it would appear, is going to be kept quite busy.”

Meanwhile, changes in planning rules will make it easier for free schools to open in offices, hotels and shops, the BBC reports. They will be able to operate in buildings for a year without having planning permission for change of use, because the government wants to remove barriers to more free schools opening. Critics are warning that pupils’ safety may be put at risk.

What do you think of the knock-on effects of the exam league tables? And should planning rules make it easier to open free schools?

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