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03.11.15

Failing schools to be ‘rescued’ by 1,500 teachers in new national service

To improve the country’s education standards, 1,500 teachers will be deployed to the most underperforming schools for three years as part of a new National Teaching Service (NTS).

Announced today (3 November), the NTS is part of a series of reforms by education secretary Nicky Morgan to rescue schools lagging behind in the state system.

Morgan’s reforms were motivated in part by recent figures showing that there are more than 20 local authorities where most pupils are still failing to secure five good GCSEs. In Knowsley, for example, not one single secondary school has been rated ‘outstanding’.

In a speech at the Policy Exchange think tank today, she set out details of her full proposal and launched an initial pilot of the NTS in the north west – which will see up to 100 teachers enlisted in primary and secondary schools from September 2016.

By the end of the decade, she hopes to see more than 1,000 teachers and leaders sent to failing schools that request help from an “injection of talent”. Teachers will work with the school for up to three years to help drive up standards.

Teachers and leaders who sign up for the programme will receive a package of support including a “clear path to promotion and leadership roles”.

Teach First will also work with the Department for Education to explore how the new national service can help develop and deploy talented teachers to areas of primarily low income levels.

Brett Wigdortz OBE, CEO and founder of Teach First, said: “Every day, teachers and schools across the country are doing incredible work to support their pupils. We look forward to working with the [department] to explore how the NTS can build on this work further, and give more pupils the fair start to life they deserve.”

Further reforms announced today include a stronger commitment to boost literacy and numeracy in primary schools, particularly by forcing struggling children to re-sit tests at secondary school.

More rigorous standard assessment tests are already being introduced at the end of primary school, but the government will now look into tests for students at the age of seven to guarantee a solid foundation from earlier on.

Whitehall will be working in partnership with headteachers in the coming months to refine this idea and assess how it can hold schools to account should young students be failing.

Morgan has also begun consulting on government plans to extend the English Baccalaureate to 90% of students. She has also secured plans for the proportion of pupils entering the baccalaureate scheme to become a headline measure used to hold schools to account through Ofsted inspections.

Finally, the education secretary revealed details of five academy sponsors now tasked with driving up standards across the north of England where performance has been historically poor.

The sponsors were awarded grants pooled at nearly £5m to make a significant impact on performance in the most challenging and disadvantaged areas in the country.

James Wharton, minister for the Northern Powerhouse, said: “For too long, too many children in the north have been let down by underperforming schools. These sponsors bring with them experience, leadership, and a strong track record of success which will mean these school children can now fulfil their academic potential.”

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