Press release

Nicky Morgan: no tolerance of areas where majority of pupils fail

Plans for a National Teaching Service to provide elite teachers to struggling areas announced.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan will announce tomorrow (3 November 2015) the next phase of the government’s education reform programme with a package designed to tackle underperformance and deliver on the government’s commitment to give every child an excellent education.

Thanks to the education reforms of the past 5 years, significant progress has been made in raising standards, with a million more pupils in ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools compared to 2010; but too many places are lagging behind, meaning young people in these areas are not being given a fair shot.

Latest figures show more than 20 local authorities where the majority of pupils are still unable to secure 5 good GCSEs, despite an improving picture across the country.

They include:

  • Knowsley in the North West, where almost 2 in every 3 young people are not securing 5 A* to C at GCSE (including English and maths)
  • Salford, where results have bucked the improving trend and fallen by 3% since 2010
  • Rochdale in Greater Manchester, where results fell 4% in 5 years to just 47.6%

In a speech at the Policy Exchange think tank tomorrow, Nicky Morgan will set out details for reforms which will help ensure high standards throughout every child’s education and tackle entrenched underperformance - delivering on the government’s commitment to give every child the security and opportunity of an excellent education.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said:

Over the past 5 years we’ve extended opportunity to thousands of young people, through raised standards, heightened expectations and a rigour revolution.

But for all we’ve achieved, too many young people aren’t being given a fair shot to succeed because of where they live. That’s why today I’m announcing the creation of a National Teaching Service - sending some of our best teachers to schools in struggling areas.

At the same time, we’re taking further steps to ensure that every pupil masters the 3Rs in primary school and studies the core academic subjects in secondary school - ensuring that every young person gets the best start in life.

The measures being announced today will include:

National Teaching Service (NTS)

Deploying the country’s best teachers and leaders to underperforming schools that struggle to attract and retain the professionals they need, the new service will give teachers that take part fast-track development opportunities, ensuring we get the brightest and best to schools that are struggling.

By 2020, there will be 1,500 outstanding teachers and leaders in the service, deployed across the country to the schools that need them most. The service will offer schools that request help an injection of talent from an NTS teacher or leader who will work with them for a period of up to 3 years to help drive up standards. Outstanding teachers who sign up to the NTS will receive a package of support including a clear path to promotion and leadership roles.

An initial pilot has been launched today in the North West to enlist up to 100 teachers and leaders to start work in primary and secondary schools from September 2016.

Brett Wigdortz OBE, CEO and Founder of Teach First:

We know great teaching and leadership are among the most powerful forces for social change, and for improving children’s life chances.

Yet challenges persist for pupils from low-income communities, especially in coastal and dispersed areas. We therefore warmly welcome the National Teaching Service and hope it will have a clear focus on attracting and developing talented teachers and leaders in areas where there are the greatest challenges, enabling young people from low-income backgrounds to realise their full potential.

Every day, teachers and schools across the country are doing incredible work to support their pupils. We look forward to working with the Department for Education to explore how the National Teaching Service can build on this work further, and give more pupils the fair start in life they deserve.

Supporting greater rigour

In her speech on Tuesday, the Education Secretary will underline the government’s commitment to make sure every child masters the basics of literacy and numeracy at primary school - and for those who fail to do so, they must resit tests at secondary school.

This is part of the government’s commitment to making sure that every child get the best start in life and can start secondary ready to succeed.

Schools have already made major improvements in this area, with the number of pupils not reaching the expected level in the 3Rs at the end of primary falling from 1 in 3 in 2010 to 1 in 5 this year.

However, there are still thousands of young people who are at risk of falling behind and evidence shows that pupils leaving primary without a good grasp of English and maths are much less likely to go on and secure good GCSEs. Only 6% of pupils unable to read, write and add up at the expected level subsequently get 5 good GCSEs, compared to 50% of those who achieve the expected level and 90% of those who exceed it.

New, more rigorous standard assessment tests (SATs) are already being introduced at the end of primary school, and the new ‘reception baseline’ assessment has been introduced in primary schools this year. But to be really confident that students are progressing well through primary school, the government will be looking at the tests for pupils at age 7 - to make sure they provide a firm basis for calculating progress to key stage 2. The government will be working with headteachers in the coming months on how to get this right, holding schools to account and giving them full credit for the progress they achieve.

English Baccalaureate (EBacc)

In 2010 just 22% of young people were studying the EBacc. Since then, and thanks to the reforms in the last Parliament, that has risen to 39%. Today the Education Secretary will announce a consultation on achieving the government’s goal for 90% of pupils to be studying the vital Ebacc subjects of maths, English, science, a foreign language and either history or geography. She will also announce plans for the proportion of pupils entering the EBacc to become a headline measure used to hold schools to account through Ofsted.

This is part of the government’s aim to ensure every child receives a rigorous education in the core academic subjects that open doors to young people’s futures and are respected by employers and universities alike.

Top-performing academy sponsors for the north

Also today, the Education Secretary will announce the details of 5 academy sponsors that will be tasked with driving up standards in schools across the north of England where historically performance has been poor. Five sponsors have been awarded grants totalling nearly £5 million, to make an impact on improving performance for pupils in some of the most challenging and disadvantaged areas of the county.

They are:

  • REAch2, who have set up a new entity called ‘REAch4’ to work in the north - REAch2 now sponsors 49 schools across the country

  • Outwood Grange Academies Trust, a sponsor set up by the ‘outstanding’ Outwood Grange Academy in Outwood, near Wakefield

  • Wakefield City Academies Trust, which has already successfully opened 16 schools across the northern fund regions

  • Tauheedul Education Trust, a sponsor with an excellent track record in running schools - all of its schools inspected so far are rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted

  • Bright Tribe, a well established sponsor with a proven track record of successfully managing geographically dispersed academy hubs, making it well-matched to the challenge of working in the north

Minister for the Northern Powerhouse James Wharton said:

A key part of building a Northern Powerhouse is to ensure our schools are performing at the highest level, so children are equipped for the skilled jobs of the future.

This £5 million grant will help some of the best academy sponsors bring in their expertise to help turn around underperforming schools across the north of England.

The sponsors bring with them experience, leadership, and a strong track record of success which will mean these school children have the best possible chance of fulfilling their academic potential.

Notes to editors

  1. Pupils in Knowsley were 20 percentage points below the national average for children achieving 5 A* to C GCSEs (including English and maths).

  2. The 5 academy chains are setting up 7 new academy hubs in 5 target areas which regional schools commissioners have identified as being those which stand to gain the most from the additional capacity of high-quality sponsors. Work is underway with an expectation that schools will become sponsored academies and join these hubs over course of the next year.

  3. Read the ‘Implementing the English Baccalaureate’ consultation.

  4. Read about the National Teaching Service: for teachers and middle leaders and the National Teaching Service for schools.

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