Improving Poorly Performing Schools in England: Fifty-ninth Report of Session 2005-06; Report, Together with Formal Minutes, Oral and Written Evidence

In 2004-05, approximately £837 million was spent in England on a range of national programmes to help address problems in schools that were failing or at risk of failing to provide an acceptable standard of education for their pupils. Following on from a NAO report (HC 679, session 2005-06; ISBN 0102936633) published in January 2006, the Committee's report examines the activities of the DfES and Ofsted to identify and deal with poorly performing schools, to strengthen school leadership and to develop simpler relationships with schools. Findings include that, although the number of poorly performing schools has been reducing, there are still around 1,500 in England that are under-performing. Improvements in data on secondary school performance has helped to identify schools in decline at an earlier stage so that they can benefit from increased support, and similar improvement needs to be done at primary school level. The system of shorter Ofsted inspections, based on school self-evaluation of performance, may be appropriate for the majority of schools, but some schools are not evaluating themselves effectively and incentives needs to be created to help achieve this. School leadership is essential to achieving and maintaining improvements, and Ofsted reports need to diagnose any leadership problems in failing schools explicitly. Local authorities and other schools are important sources of support for struggling schools and there should be greater opportunities for schools to collaborate and share good practice.

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