John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
  Why do the government like the "C" word - closure
The link is to the details of the government's announcement of the National Challenge programme. This includes the following:
As well as Academies, where a school is completely unable to raise their exam results, the Government will encourage local authorities to close the school and replace it with a National Challenge Trust, providing that they forge new improvement partnerships led by a successful school and a business or university partner. The aim would be to give the school and the community a fresh beginning and a break with previous underachievement.

What I cannot work out is why the government always like to issue a threat of closure. It hasn't been seen to work reliably in the past. Obviously there will always be some times when schools close. However, it should not appear as an explicit threat relating to 638 schools.

If you take two local schools Sheldon Heath and Yardleys which appear on this list, both have been improving. Sheldon Heath has taken the number of 5 GCSE from 28% to 57% in two years and English and Maths from 14% to 20%. Yardleys have also improved and are only 1% off the current target of 25%. Note for example that Yardleys have 70% of pupils with English as an Additional Language and 50% on the Special Educational Needs Code of Practise. This means that they face far more challenges than other schools.

This approach of waving a stick at schools is not a good way to motivate staff who face all sort of problems with discipline - often caused by central government.

There are aspects of the National Challenge programme that are good, but they should stop waving around the threat of closure. It undermines schools and is frequently a false threat as it doesn't help in aggregate.

Looking at the list of schools it is rather obvious that the majority are specialist schools. Why was it such a good idea to have specialist schools and then give them a big kicking. The idea of specialist schools was that they would be better than "bog standard comprehensives". If that is the case then why are most of the National Challenge schools also specialist?
 
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