Sunday, September 30, 2007

Britain: Number of failing schools jumps 18 per cent in a year

The number of all schools judged to be failing rose by 18 per cent between the summer terms last year and this after changes to the inspection regime. Government figures show that 246 schools were in "special measures" by the end of last term, up from 208 at the end of the previous year. The rise was sharpest for primary schools, with 181 in special measures, up from 137 last year. The increase reflects the introduction of an inspection regime that has allowed many more schools to be inspected, to tougher new standards.Ofsted, the schools inspectorate, said that 2.7 per cent of the 6,100 schools inspected had been in special measures, compared with 2.2 per cent of the 8,300 schools inspected this year.

Lord Adonis, the Schools Minister, said schools in special measures must improve within one year or face closure, but emphasised that fewer schools were failing now than ten years ago. Separate figures showed that hundreds of primary schools were unable to appoint permanent head teachers this year. A government analysis found 520 nursery and primary schools had filled head teacher posts on a temporary basis.

Meanwhile, plans for job-related diplomas to run alongside A levels suffered a setback yesterday when nearly half of the country's leading independent schools said that they would not introduce them. The new specialist diplomas, for 14 to 19-year-olds, have been heralded by the Government as the most important education reform in 40 years. Starting from next September, they will combine practical work experience with academic study.

Ministers and officials have emphasised that the diplomas' credibility rests heavily on their acceptance by employers, universities and parents. But a survey of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference group of independent schools yesterday revealed that only two members were considering them seriously.Private schools have been deterred by widespread concerns that the diplomas will not be ready in time and by flaws in their development.


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